Mom Guilt: The crime of being “put together” (or the appearance of…)

I am brand-spankin’ new to the “stay-at-home-mom” life and admittedly don’t really know what I’m doing besides surviving (this is true for us all, right?). However, when I was a “working-mom” I had a quirk about me that has transitioned into my new role as well. I worked from home the majority of the time and I had a REALLY hard time working if my house was a mess or if I was “messy”. Now of course I let some things slide simply for lack of time. (Side-note: Some folks had the idea that since I worked from home I could do whatever I wanted during the day and work “here and there”—this was not the case. I had a real job with 400 clients and was busy for 6-7 straight hours per day so there was hardly ever any extra time to do the dishes or sweep the floor.) However, I made sure that the bed was made, our room was picked up, the living room was tidy and dishes were done before getting to work. A clean house makes for a clear mind—at least for me. Along those same lines, one benefit from working from home is the ability to be in pajamas with unwashed hair because showers are totally overrated and drying your hair is really just the worst. BUT if I was too greasy it’s all I would think about. Now this doesn’t mean I would wake up every morning and put on a pantsuit just to stroll down into my home-office but I would try to put on new clothes (i.e. leggings and a cute tunic or something…you know the comfy but cute look!) and maybe even dab on a bit of makeup just to make myself feel a bit more confident. Now for me, this was important and motivating. I understand that for some, rolling out of bed and staying in your pajamas all day while being a total boss is completely possible and that is awesome too.

This brings me to my new gig: taking care of my two little monsters (read: children) all day and taking care of our home. This also brings me to a new type of mom-guilt. An article was circulating on social media for a few weeks that was really sweet but made me feel insanely guilty. Now let me clarify-this guilt is mine and I own it completely. This article was not about mom-shaming so the fact that I felt guilt after reading it is totally on me. The article essentially discussed how ordinary chores and cleaning take a backseat to sweet cuddles and time with your little one(s). It was beautifully written and the message is an important one. These times are fleeting. Our babes and kids get so big so fast so we should certainly cherish any moment we have to slow down and just “be” with the ones we love. Here’s where my guilt comes in: I have a REALLY hard time letting these ordinary chores and tasks take a backseat. Similarly to when I was working, my mind feels cluttered and distracted if my house is a mess or if I am a mess; meaning I wake up in the morning and some of the first things I do along with giving kisses and cuddles is straightening up and even *GASP* putting some make up on to make myself feel good. Translation: I feel like I am more present and a better mom and wife if these things are taken care of.

Nonetheless: GUILT.

This is an example of some internal dialogue I have had and have with myself on this topic:

Q:  Am I just incredibly vain? My 2 ½ year old and newborn could care less what I look like.

A: No you are not vain and it’s not about what your children think about you it’s about how you feel. If feeling “put together” will make you enjoy your time with them and be more present then by all means go on girl and put yo’self together! Also isn’t it important for your children to have a confident mother? Whatever that confidence looks or feels like? Yes to all of this.

Q: The floors and dusting and laundry can wait. M & C want to play. Where are your priorities?

A: Sure these things can wait, and sometimes they will. But this IS about being present and in order for you to be present you need to take care of the things that are preventing you from “being here now”. If that means you are quickly dusting while holding C and M is playing with trains independently then that is what that means. Even if that means that C is in his swing and M is watching Zootopia  while you mop the kitchen floor (because lets be real: TWO DOGS), then that is what that means. Go’head girl.

Q: Why can’t these things just wait until the evening or on weekends? Then ALL your time can be dedicated to entertaining and loving on these little kiddos during the week.  

A: Again with the realness: Show me a mom who spends literally ALL day entertaining even one child, much less 2 (or 3, 4, etc.). To be quite honest cleaning up and needing to have a clean house the majority of the time is in part because I have a Type A personality and for the reasons explained above. However another part to this neurosis is that it helps to break up the day. There are days where I’m constantly checking the clock and texting my husband if he’s left the office yet (…as soon as 4:59 turns to 5:00pm-WHERE ARE YOU?! But also I need you to bring wine and ice cream home). Having a schedule and doing things OTHER than changing diapers, making funny faces, and putting together Mr. Potato Head for the 375th time makes the day go by a bit quicker.

The second part to this question is one I’m pretty passionate about. I am not going to save my nights and weekends for cleaning. I refuse to have ZERO time to also be a wife, friend, sister, daughter, woman etc. These roles are also important to nourish and take care of. My nights and weekends are dedicated to me, my husband and just general family time where I’m not wiping butts, playing referee, or googling how to wash my entire couch because, well, fluids you guys. What’s that phrase? Something about having to fill your own cup before filling others? Yes to that, very much yes to that phrase-however it goes.

So it’s pretty silly to feel guilty about something like having a clean house and clean hair (or the appearance of clean hair because DRY SHAMPOO IS THE REAL HERO). And the opposite is silly too. I don’t say that to minimize our guilt and concerns as parents, whether we are working or not, because like I said we are all just surviving and what works for me is probably not going to work for you and that is just fine. I am an expert and a novice all at once when it comes to me and my family just like you are to your family. Some days we know all the things and some days we are just guessing. But I still like to think that it’s all quite beautiful-at least eventually.


2 thoughts on “Mom Guilt: The crime of being “put together” (or the appearance of…)

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