Mommy Guilt: Tis the Season

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This post is a huge shout out to my Mom who made every Christmas magic for me. It’s also a culmination to three different blog posts (and one TV show) I read this week that shared a common thread. It brought back some things I wrote in these two posts of my own as well. The underlying message is consistent: Take time for yourself, be kind to yourself and Gosh Darnit, don’t let your egg nog curdle while you are sick in bed with classic case of Guilt-itis, the Mommy strain.

Christmas time is when we relive all our greatest holiday memories, evoke intense emotional nostalgia and hyper-focus on our family. Christmas can bring on powerful feelings ranging anywhere from psychotic happiness to “I think I am going to eat my feelings in peanut blossoms and hibernate.” Full on raging holiday hormones. Wrapped, ever so perfectly, with tight tight tight ribbons of Mommy guilt.

My parents separated when I was eight, making most of the Christmases I remember being with a single Mom. And, every Christmas was full, not just of presents and cookies and a great dinner— but of that je ne sais quoi of holiday time— the gushy squishy lovey-ness of yule.

That being said, I cannot imagine the Mom guilt my Mom endured in her years raising me. I saw a lot of it firsthand– the presents born out of being at work late, the fast food dinners, the extra hugs and kisses. She must have been shrink wrapped in Mommy guilt. Right down to her nylon wearing, pink high heeled peep toes.

You see, the disease of Mommy guilt exists because of this: Moms thinking about what they should be doing as Moms versus what they are actually able to do. They measure themselves against “Fun Kid Kraft” pinboards they see on Pinterest rather than the content of their very own amazing talents and sparkling personality. Whether it’s more time, more money, more hugs, more kisses, more listening, more loving or just more talking to your kids. We all agree that we need to probably do more of it. And any stolen time we are not doing something Mommyish leaves us feeling somewhat selfish and also simultaneously panic stricken— what should I do? There’s too many options!

And no matter how much we acknowledge it to ourselves, our friends and even our spouses, there it is glaring at us while we sit eating Halloween candy alone in the bathroom. You? You call yourself a mother? It says. Pfft. Do you know the Festivus is at preschool tomorrow? Did you know you’re signed up for “snookies”? (That’s snowman cookies, it’s a thing).

And we sit, like children in the principal’s office and think, A good Mom would ______. A REALLY good Mom would _______. And we leave ourselves out of the sentence, because the things we do that are good are never glaring at us so authoritatively.

Here’s the conundrum: Parenthood, like childhood is fleeting. We are only actively parenting for a limited amount of time. There will be days when we will long for our children to call us, visit us and spend time with us. So, shouldn’t we squeeze in all the time with THEM before it’s too late?

(I don’t really have the answer to this question but I am going to pretend to for a minute).

Yes and no. You ideally want to give your kids the best you— the most financially, mentally and emotionally stable you as possible. Sometime that requires more sleep, more time at work, more candy by yourself or even more time with your girlfriends or other family members. There are things that make us into a more well-rounded person. And (gasp!) many of those things are separate from motherhood. While we take our work hats off at a certain time every day (and I know for some of you this is hard too), our Mom hat is always on. And man, it’s on tight. With a childproof cap. And a double knotted bow.

So when you hand over your Mom self, make sure you pay attention to what she needs too. Yes, you should get a babysitter so you can boogie down at the office Christmas party. Yes, you should get the doll house because you never had one. Yes, you should buy a couple extra things for yourself and act surprised by the magic of Santa when you find them in your stocking (this ritual of mine is a personal favorite ). And yes, you should get a holiday themed manicure. Sparkle it up, girl, you deserve it.

But…no, you should not feel guilty for “not having that much this year” (something my mother would say to me annually). You should not feel silly for not having perfected your Christmas crack recipe for the pre-school party. And please don’t stress about how much to spend on the teacher gift, or the mailman gift, or the hairdresser gift. And no, don’t regift those earrings. They’re heinous.

Because, really, all those bad thoughts just makes you a less confident, less content, less carefree Mom. And I know you are more than that. So, take this holiday to celebrate the Mom you are and the family, however big or small, you have to celebrate with. Sans snookies, sans kid krafts, sans guilt.

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