Every mom knows it all too well; that feeling in your gut like you just swallowed a heavy rock and there is no way in hell it's getting digested.
It consumes us. Defines us. Defeats us.
As moms, we can't get away from it; try as we might.
I've always suffered from guilt, though in a much different way. In the last few years, it has transformed from, "I wish I didn't get so stressed" to, "I don't see my kids enough; what if I ruined them forever with divorce? I hate what I've become."
From the second I pick my kids up from their dad's on Sunday night, they say "I want daddy."
Literally, seconds after I just picked them up. After not having seen them for several days. And then every single day after that, we count down the days until they see daddy. Don't get me wrong; I'm so happy that they miss him and love him - but it can be a bit disheartening when that's all you hear. They see their dad every weekend, but I know it's still not enough. I know they want to see him every day, just like I want to see them every day.
Add to that the fact that we don't get to spend any "fun time" with them. We get school days, which means we wake them up at 6:10 only to rush them out the door by 7:15, badgering them the entire time to "hurry up!" My husband picks all of the older kids up by 5 o'clock, giving them a little time to play before dinner (if they don't have homework) and then it's all business; dinner, baths/showers, reading and bed. Charlee still takes an evening nap, so by the time I get home with her at 5:40, she's ready to lay down, just in time for me to make dinner for the older kids and start their routines.
Fridays are even worse. Steven picks all of them up, meets me half way, and we go our separate ways to drop them off with their other parents. I have a day and a half to get caught up on laundry and half-ass clean the house only to start again on Sunday evening.
Our situation is just one of many. Everyone has their own stories feeding the guilt.
Maybe you're a stay at home mom and just feel like you can't get it all done. You take them to do fun things, but yell the whole time. Or you feel like the activity wasn't educational enough. Or you didn't pack a good enough lunch.
Maybe you're a working mom who is tired by the end of the day and doesn't have the energy to be "fun" mom. You forgot to put a note in their lunch or make their lunch at all.
Maybe you're doing both, from home, and you feel like all you do is yell and work.
Maybe you just want to get a run in but you don't want to take 30 selfish minutes away from seeing your kids because you don't spend enough time with them.
Maybe your kid throws a giant fit in public and you wonder what the hell you did wrong as a parent.
The truth is, we all have it. The guilt. There's always something we feel we are screwing up. That we could be doing better.
But the fact is, when it gets down to it, all our kids need is us. They just need us.
They don't need fancy trips to Disney, or (despite what they think) the newest toys, or our all-consuming time.
They need us, in all our imperfect glory. We've gotta embrace the imperfect, ladies. We can't do it all. We just can't. So please stop trying. Stop trying to be the perfect mom. She doesn't exist. And if she does, your kid doesn't give a shit about her. Your kid wants you. Your kid wants to tell you about the sticker they got at school today. They want to tell you about their latest project. They want to sit on YOUR lap to read a book for the millionth time.
Let's all band together and let go of some of the guilt. I know it won't all go away. It can't. But we need to let go of some of it, because it will eat us alive. We're all doing our damnedest. And even if you think that's not good enough, I'm here to tell you that it is. We only have so much to give. We only have so much of our bodies to be grabbed on to; we only have two hands to hold and we only have two feet to carry us through the day (some of us, not even that).
So work with what you've got. Hug those kiddos. Read them a book or sing them a song and tell yourself that you are doing everything you can to keep them happy. And that is all they need.
Give yourself a freaking break, because you are enough.