I'm having one of those days where I feel like I'm pretty sure I don't deserve to have children. I'm tired. I've had a crick in my neck for the past three days and it's affecting my sleep. I've been working late to finish several articles before we go on vacation ONE WEEK FROM TODAY. The house is a mess. Declan woke up on three separate occasions last night with nightmares. And this morning I yelled at Finn for spilling his milk at breakfast. I. Feel. Horrible. I know nothing is to be gained by the Guilt Trip, but will I ever learn? Probably not.
In fairness, Finn was playing with toys at the table, something he has been told not to do over and over and over. . . .again, which resulted in the spill. And it all happened while I was trying to get breakfast over with, lunches packed, snacks packed, sunscreen on, everyone out the door to school, and prepare for a meeting.
So while Finn went up to his room and changed out of his milky pajamas into clothes, crying all the while that he "wanted Daddy," I got down on my hands and knees, sopped up the mess and cleaned the floor, I seethed. Was I seething at myself or at him? I find I lose it more with them when I am out of control in my own life. They're suffering for my poor planning, poor timing, poor whatever. And I hate it. UGH.
Finn gets over things pretty quickly. After he came back down and we discussed for the 50 bazillionth time that we don't bring toys to the table, hugs restored his happiness and he went off to school seemingly unscathed. Not so for me. I have dwelled on my behavior all morning. Whatever happened to not crying over spilled milk? You'd think with all of the other challenges our family has had, I'd have a little perspective. Apparently not.
Sometimes being self-employed and working at home stresses me out as much as working full-time used to create stress. To be home or not to be home? That is the question. You think you get it right, but it's really all just a big guessing game. One of my friends told me once that she's a better parent because she works. I found that when I worked full-time after Declan was born, I couldn't get my head in the game at work. And when I was at home, I was worried about work. What was my problem? Why couldn't I do what so many other mothers do? I still ask myself that. Should I be able to run the house, work part-time, serve on PTA committees, volunteer for school activities, run errands, and generally get done what needs to be done without breaking a sweat? It seems like everyone else can do it, and many of them work full-time. What is my problem?
An incident involving mother guilt happened this winter that has been causing me angst ever since. It involved me and another person who had an e-mail conversation about a third person and their personal choices about parenting. Lame, I know. A fourth person came into the e-mail chain and was upset about the conversation--rightfully so--because even though the conversation wasn't directed at her, she is in the same situation. Bottom line: I have no business commenting on other people's choices in life. Heck, I can't deal with my own.
Why would I bring this up now? Because I've been fretting about the whole thing for months because I hurt a friend's feelings. And besides, who am I to pass judgment anyway? What could I have been thinking? Even if I had my own house in perfect order, which of course, I don't; never made a mistake, which of course, I always do; never second-guessed my decisions about work/life balance, which I do all the time, I still should not be making judgments about other people in any regard.
And so, a little spilled milk has caused all of this angst and reflection today. Right now I just want to go over to Finn's school and give him a hug and tell him I'm sorry. And SM, I don't know if you still read or if you've gone away because of what I wrote, but please know, I feel terrible for having those thoughts, for verbalizing them and that I hurt your feelings/made you mad. I am so sorry.
I hate it when I learn things the hard way, especially, when like Finn, I know better. Hmmm, except that supposedly I have a few more years of experience.