Hi, my name is Katie. I'm 5 foot 7, weigh an undisclosed (but steadily dropping!) amount, have brown hair and blue eyes. I love cheap wine (Arbor Mist is best), shopping and long walks on the beach. I would like to introduce you to my constant companion. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Mommy Guilt.
During my pregnancy I thought I might have successfully eluded Mommy Guilt. I didn't feel guilty for eating whatever I wanted and being as inactive as humanly possible (although I wish I had, because then maybe it wouldn't have taken me 4 months to comfortably fit into most of my pre-pregnancy jeans). I didn't feel guilty for occasionally indulging in a caffeinated beverage. I didn't feel guilty for letting people do things for me. Even now, I'm still surprised when my co-worker expects me to lift things at work because she would not let me carry anything when I was pregnant - and I mean anything. One time she went to Costco for the office and I picked up a package of 3 Kleenex boxes and she literally grabbed them out of my hands, told me not to strain myself and made me go sit down. I was surprised that she was concerned about me carrying something that weighed less than a pound (I mean really, is there anything lighter than a box of Kleenex? Maybe a feather.) But I didn't feel guilty.
Maybe I'm making up for lost time now. Mommy Guilt has become my worst best friend. Any time something remotely negative is said about my child, I take it as a personal assault.
"Lucas is fussy, do you think he might be hungry?"
Oh my gosh, of course he's hungry, what a terrible mom I am that I couldn't anticipate that!
"Lucas sure does like it when you hold him, he stops crying as soon as you take him!"
If only I hadn't spoiled him when he was 2 weeks old by snuggling him because I was in awe of his newness, his sweetness, his tinyness. It's all my fault and now he's a mama's boy.
"Lucas really doesn't like it when you lay him flat!"
It's all because we discovered at 3 months that he would sleep in the swing at night. We never should have put him in the swing, now we'll have to install a toddler-sized swing in his nursery because he'll never, ever, ever sleep in his crib and it's all because we were exhausted and it was either sleep or go mentally insane. I should have let myself go crazy because then they would have checked me in the loony bin and someone more fitting could have taken care of him.
Seriously, these are only slight exaggerations of what goes through my frazzled mind. I have no clue what I'm doing, and I feel like it's completely apparent to the entire world just from looking at him. It doesn't help that everyone has their own ideas and experience of what worked for them and they want to share it with me. I'm not trying to be sarcastic at all (for once). I totally understand that when people give me advice, it's well-intended. It's just unbelievably frustrating to hear conflicting ideas constantly - each time it seems like it's designed to make you feel like you're doing something wrong.
Working full time only compounds the Mommy Guilt. I see Lucas 4 hours a day, max. Maybe 2.5 of these hours are quality time when I can snuggle him and play with him. That in itself is enough guilt to keep me completely occupied. I look forward to the weekends when I can spend some time with him and relax a bit.
This past weekend, Dan's mom was watching Lucas for a couple hours so we could take care of some errands. By some strange miracle, Dan and I were alone at our house for 10 minutes or so before we had to pick him up. We were sitting there just basking in the quiet, when the thought crossed my mind that I wouldn't mind leaving Lucas at the in-laws' for a few more hours so we could just enjoy laying around the house for a while more.
Enter Mommy Guilt. How could I wish for alone time when I hardly saw Lucas during the week? On an intellectual level, I know that i need some time for myself, to rest and recharge. But Mommy Guilt knows right where I live. And let me tell you, it's not on the intellectual level. I live on the emotional level. And the emotional level does not allow me to take time for myself guilt-free. If I'm going to have alone time, you can bet it's going to have a price on it. (And I'm not saying all this to try to garner sympathy or anything. I just figure that if I'm going to over-share my life for the world to see, I might as well be honest!)
It's a constant war with Mommy Guilt. Hopefully one day it will go off and quietly die somewhere. For now, we're engaged in emotional combat. Mommy Guilt: 100; Mommy: 5.