Just Heather
A Case of Mommy Guilt

I wear so many hats: wife, Mommy, chef, maid, Brownie leader, business owner. Why do I feel so guilty if I take them all off for an hour to just be Heather? We have a routine at our house. Every night at 8 p.m. we give each girl a kiss and tuck them into bed. Hubby heads off to the office—which is now a corner of our bedroom. I take a nice, long bubble bath. This has been going on for about 3 years now. Yet every night, I feel like I should spend what little time we have in the evenings as his wife.

We don’t have a lot of alone time as a couple. Stacia came along 4 months after the wedding. Go ahead, do the math. Now that we have 3 kids, there’s rarely a moment’s peace. A part of me feels like our quiet evenings should be spent together. Then I remember why I do it. It rejuvenates me. It restores my soul. I can truly be his wife, instead of sitting next to him on the couch all evening as an exhausted shell of a mom. I spend an hour each evening washing the mom off, and the next two being a woman.

Bathtime isn’t the only time guilt sets in. Last year, I left town all by myself. Spencer played single dad for the first time ever. Oh, I’ve left for an evening or afternoon, but never before had he been in charge for a full 2 days. The girls wanted to go with me, and when they clung and pouted as I walked out the door I had a hard time remembering all the reasons they shouldn’t. Brenia was sick. Three hours in a car would not be fun. Stacia gets so emotional that she did not need to go to a funeral when she didn’t know the person. I needed the time to say goodbye when I wasn’t surrounded by others who needed me. But none of those reminders did anything to quell the guilt.

I think Mommy Guilt multiplies with each child. I worry phenomenally more about being a better mom. It filters into every aspect of our lives. I stress now over splitting my time even further and end up over compensating. Case in point: learning to sew in 3 days so I could make 18 aprons for my daughter’s Baking Birthday Party. I was successful, by the way, but at the expense of added guilt over how little time I spent planning the last birthday—nevermind that she’s only 3—and the feelings of abandonment the wee one suddenly developed while I spent several hours hunched over my new sewing machine.

She has now figured out the bathtime ritual and begins a preemptive tantrum as I start the water to prevent me from leaving her. She is not usually successful, though I do tend to rush out when her screams begin to waft up the stairs. My baths have gone from over an hour to barely 30 minutes, but I still manage to squeeze it in-guilt and all. Plus I get to feel guilty that he no longer gets to spend his alone time because he’s too busy dealing with our spoiled rotten mommy’s girl. I have decided to ignore that pang because I need it more.

Today I walked to the mailbox in my pajamas—greasy, I-haven’t-showered-in-two-days hair and all—just to get a break. I had an extra child yesterday so I have cuddle time to make up for baby. She cries if I set her down for a minute—even in her beloved swing. So off I went to get the mail as if my life depended on while she wailed her teeny head off inside. Now she’s snoring and I feel guilty that I have to put her down so I fix something to eat, but considering that both our bodies depend on that sustenance I’d best get to it.

I tell myself it will get better. One day she’ll outgrow the need for constant reassurance. One day none of them will even remember the things I guiltily stress over. One day I will sleep again. One day I will have the time to devote to my husband. One day I will see my children all grown up and realize I didn’t do so bad afterall—I hope.

2 Responses to “A Case of Mommy Guilt”

  1. Tell this mom that I did not do so bad myself so I can stop feeling guilty about when you were growing up. Love you, Mom

  2. Heather, you are absoutely normal! According to our survey in our book “Mommy Guilt” we discovered Mommy Guilt increases with the addition of more kids. So keep bathing yourself, but not in unecessary guilt! You are absolutely doing the best thing for yourself and your family by taking care of you. It might make you feel better to teach the bathing ritual to your daughter. Make her bathtime special too, then when she freaks out about yours, you can say “Remember when you have your special time? How great that makes you feel…” might work, but nothing in parenting is a guarentee. Your mileage may vary ; )