Monday, March 29, 2010

Mom Guilt - an AH HA Moment!

Recently, got the book I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids, by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile at the library.  Holy Moly!!! - as I read it, at times, I felt like the authors must have been living inside my brain recording and documenting my every thought!  It didn't take me long to read the entire thing and now I am going back and rereading parts.  When I checked it out, I expected it to be a fun read.  But what I didn't expect was all the practical and wonderful solutions that the book offered.  So I decided that this week I would share some of the wondeful nuggets and the "AH-HA moments" that I got from the book.

The first one is about Mommy Guilt.  What I found incredibly interesting was that, in the book, they compared how men and women experience guilt.  They noted that dads don't seem to have the "guilt gene".  And while they may occasionally have some guilt, it is not nearly as much as moms. 
"Yes, a father who inadvertently whacks his daughter in the head while tossing around a baseball is going to feel guilty. But he's probably not going to question his choices. He won't take the accident as a referendum on whether he's a good father."

I read that, and realized something incredibly important - My husband does not understand the guilt that I feel and therefore may not understand some of my behaviors.

For instance, there are times when I feel guilty because as I am finishing a post on my blog, I hear my children arguing.  I immediately think that, obviously (in my mind), they are fighting because they need to spend quality time with me *guilt*.  So I decide to stop what I am doing to go to the playroom.  On the way, I pass through the kitchen and I see the dirty dishes *guilt* in the sink.  Which reminds me that the laundry hasn't been started *guilt*, and my husband is on his last pair of sock *guilt* ...which leads me to the questioning of my abilities as a wife and a mother .  Typically, this is when I feel overwhelmed - because of course I have thrown in everything (we are out of milk, and the floor need to be mopped, and...) and the kitchen sink *guilt, guilt, guilt, more guilt*  into the evidence.  And since I am the judge and jury, the verdict is GUILTY...horrible mom, horrible wife. 

All of this leads me to a type of paralyzed state.  I am so overwhelmed by all that I have to do and, more importantly, by the guilt, that I don't know what to do.  I don't know where to start and my emotions are ready to explode.  I try to manage it.  I know to tackle one thing at a time and just move forward.  But, at times, I struggle, because all I want to do is escape.  Escape from my feelings, the guilt, the preschool arguments, and the mundane tasks.  And, when I have told (read: complained to) my husband about my day, he doesn't get it.  He says, "just make a list and start getting things done." 

AH HA Moment Alert!: After reading the guilt chapter in this book, I realized, he is not meaning to be SO damn condescending!  He just has no clue.  No experience with overwhelming guilt.  So, he doesn't understand my paralysis.  He is sincerely trying to be helpful.  AH HA!  I need to clue him in!

So I shared the quote with him and I explain how I feel, and you know what?  I think he got it (at least a little). 

I know that I need to work on my issues surrounding guilt, but having him hear me (I mean really hear me) and say, "I never realized you were feeling that"...Ahhhhh, that feels good.


Jackie said...

I'm going to check that one out next time we head to the library - it sounds fantastic. The mom guilt is something I struggle with all.the.time too. It just snowballs from one thing into the next into the next & paralyzes me from doing anything about it sometimes - particularly when it comes to carving out time for me. Thanks for posting this!

Jen said...

I have guilt 24/7. I completely understand the overwhelmed by all that needs to be done and then not actually getting it done because you need to escape, but don't because that would make you feel even more guilty. Ugh!

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