Updated: Feb 25
Photograph by Subalpine Photography
Today I woke up feeling ready for the week. Sure, I had that typical guilt for indulging in my weekend bliss, with no schedule to adhere to, eating all the good food, staying up too late, watching too much Netflix, drinking too much wine... But I've realized something... Why should I feel guilty? I am enjoying my life! Life is hard, life is stressful, and we aren't truly programmed to live our lives with such strict routine. Why is it I punish myself for a weekend of overindulgence, but I don't praise myself for the hard work I put in the other 5 days? We are wired so hard to believe that if we aren't overly enthusiastic, PTA committed, extra-curricularly devoted parents, that we should shame ourselves for enjoying anything outside of that.
I am going to be real here... a lot of things don't come natural to me. And the pressure that society puts on us to be parental overachievers, is quite frankly BS. Being a mother is something I truly love, and is something that I've always wanted above anything else. I am so lucky and so grateful to have two of the sweetest, cutest little nuggets this side of the Mississippi! But, I am in no way a perfect mom, that's for sure. The infancy phase was a breeze for me, I'll be honest... feed them, hold them, bathe them, dress them, change their diapers... easy! That's the part I'm good at. Maybe I just had it easy? Maybe I lucked out? But I am realizing that the older my children get, the less I feel like I am crushing it. What is it that triggers this so called "Mommy Guilt" as these kids get older? I think I am starting understand what it is, so hear me out.
When I was young, life was wayyyy different than it is now. I lived in a mountain town as a young child, we moved a lot, my parents divorced, my mom was the sole provider for all of our needs, and we didn't have a lot of the extras. Life wasn't gumdrops and lollipops, but my needs were met, I felt loved, and I had support. We lived in a safe city, in a nice home, and we played with neighbor kids. I didn't go on a thousand playdates, I didn't play a ton of sports, and we didn't go on annual Hawaiian vacations. Now, in no way am I shaming anyone for being able to provide these things for their family, because this is something I want for mine too! This is just about me reflecting on why I personally feel the way I do about childhood and the pressures of being a perfect parent. This is just my story, and if anyone can relate, even a little, that's what this is about. What I think I am trying to say is that I feel like we are trying to live up to too much. We are all looking to society to model what the definition of good parenting is. When in reality, we are just humans with simple needs. Why is it that caring for my babies was so fulfilling, but as they get older it is harder to feel satisfied with the care I provide to them? What is it that makes me feel like I can't keep up or like I am constantly failing? What I have realized: There is just too much crap! Too many things to do, too many things to have, too many sports to play, too many places to go, too many people's feeling to worry about. Too many tiny surprise toys, too much crap food, too many activities! TOO MUCH. Too much to keep up with!
Just a thought: If I lived off-grid with only my family, would I feel this mommy guilt nonsense? If I lived on a remote property with only the essentials and minimal distractions, would I feel the pressure to keep up? Probably not as much. My day would consist of caring for my family, feeding them, bathing them, loving them, just like their infancy. Yes, this is 2020 and they would need an education and a social life, but I would feel more fulfilled as a parent caring for their basic needs, and not having to keep up with the endless list that will never get checked off! The reality is, we have made our checklists way too long! With all the extras in life, we have made it practically impossible to "keep up". It is impossible to check off all those boxes, therefore we can never feel truly fulfilled. We can't ever truly feel like we are crushing it as parents, because there is always something bigger and better we can be doing. This goes for our children too. How can they ever feel fulfilled, if us parents can't check those boxes off for THEM? It baffles me how often I am getting asked for something by my kids, and it's not their fault.
I do realize this is modern life, and the reality is we all have to adapt regardless of how we feel about society. But what if we could find a balance? Somehow find a way to be content with our parenting, by keeping our checklists a little smaller. What changes can we make to not feel the extreme pressure of society's expectations? How can we figure out a way to turn down the noise of it all? For me, it's enjoying the weekends with minimal plans, after a long hard week of so many. It's not saying yes to every birthday party invite, or saying no sometimes when I'm asked to volunteer at the school. It's saying no to my kids when they want another toy, that I could easily just say yes to, to shut them up. It's not running them and our family ragged, committing to too many extracurricular activities. It's taking them camping every summer, in the dirt, and breathing the fresh air. It's talking to them about my feelings after I lose my cool, or them overhearing a disagreement with my husband. It's explaining to them that stuff is just stuff, and the most important thing is human connection, compassion and family. Explaining to them, if there was nothing else, we would still have us, still have our health, still have each other, still have our foundation, and a lot of love.
I have the great privilege to stay home with my children, and it's truly the greatest gift I could ever ask for. But, it has come with a lot of sacrifice, and life's pressures haven't always allowed it to run smoothly. Part of the reason I started my own business was to create another source of income, utilize my creativity, and continue to have the flexibility to be present for my children. My brand represents simplicity, and basic necessities to care for your baby. And as I write that statement, I'm confirming all the more what kind of person I am, and what I am chasing. Simplicity. And for all the working parents out there, I praise you! They feel the pressure and parental guilt just as much as parents who stay home, if not more. We all deserve to be fulfilled with our roles as parents. If we all start with little things to turn down the noise of the daily chaos, I think we can really start having a positive impact. Stop shaming other parents by gloating about all the things our kids are doing. Stop comparing. Stop guilting others for not showing up. Stop feeling guilty over the past and stay present. Each day is a new day, a fresh start, and a new opportunity to make it a better one than the last. Let's start giving ourselves more credit for the things we do, versus the things we don't, so we can start to feel more content and fulfilled. Start now, so we can put our kids to bed each night, sit on our beloved sofas, with a glass of wine, and our crap TV, with a smile. Start now, so that even on the hardest days, no matter what, we can reassure ourselves that we are just doing our best. And don't forget to breathe.