Here’s a blog that I love from a
woman I love even more. Kelly has been part of the Care.com team for almost as
long as we’ve existed. As part of our Workplace Solutions team, Kelly helps place Care.com services with companies
so employees can use us for free.
I’m sitting on an airplane. I have a three hour flight ahead of me where I’m supposed to do work and all I can think about are my kids. They were both up all night. My 5-year old daughter had a stomach bug and my 3-year old son had Croup. And I was running between them.
Why didn’t I wake my husband? I don’t know.
I got 3 hours of sleep. Most of which was in a toddler bed. And this morning I had to leave for a work trip. So as I kissed their sweet sleeping heads goodbye (why do sick kids always sleep during the day!?) and thanked my mom for being my back-up care, I felt that old beast of a shadow lurking over me again.
It was my Mom Guilt. I’d say she greets me at least once a day, often as I’m trying to be the best mom, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law and employee I can possibly be. And I hate her. She is my nemesis. "They need you" she whispers in my ear. "You’re their Mom," she says in the back of my mind as I get in the taxi and head to the airport.
This time my response was different. This time, I wasn’t taking it. I had to tell this lurking shadow to stop bullying me. This was my inner tirade:
"Back off, Guilt! Don’t tell me how to live my life. Don’t get in my head and make me feel inferior to the other moms in this world. My kids are doing great. My kids are loved and know they’re loved. They have parents and grandparents, friends, family, teachers and babysitters who take incredible care of them. They are thriving. They are sweet, fun, smart and happy. Yes, they’re happy, Guilt. So why do you invade my brain when I leave them on days like this, when meetings run late, when dinner is microwavable, when I have to leave my husband alone with bedtime just so I can get my hair cut, or when I accept favors from my family or SAHM friends who ‘want to help’?
And why oh why don’t you invade my husband’s brain?
I’ve had ENOUGH of you, Mom Guilt. I’ve had enough."
And then I almost cried. (The poor cab driver!) Not only was I having a therapeutic moment, but I was also realizing that this guilt was me. And would always be me. It’s the inner perfectionist who got me to this place and will continue to strive for perfection, even though she knows it doesn’t exist. It’s the woman who idolizes June Cleaver, Martha Stewart and Sheryl Sandberg and will do whatever she can to be the next female role model for her children and yours.
And while I might try to tame this inner voice that makes me strive to do better next time even when I’m getting a promotion, apologizes to family when they don’t see watching the kids as "childcare" but as "quality time with the grandkids," and feels like a terrible friend and wife even though everyone else is busy too. I will probably always be the one who gets up for vomit and coughing fits. In a way it’s because I want to. It’s also my job -- I’m "Mom." These dark circles under my eyes and stains on my clothes are just the battle wounds from the best job in the world.
So, here’s what I realized on that plane trip: Mom Guilt is my fr-enemy for life. It’s a waste of energy to hate her, so I will follow the age-old advice and "keep my friends close and my fr-enemies closer." But I’ve got to watch my back ‘cause that chick has the power to take me down. If I let her.