You seem to have forgotten to include my "gift receipt" and we all know that even places like Target won't tinker with the idea of taking back merchandise without one of those things, so I need to know the correct way to make an exchange. No, I'm not dissatisfied with any of the sweet bundles of joy you have so generously delivered to us, almost every year for four years in a row... It would be the other bundle that arrived simultaneously, yet growing abundantly with each precious package that landed on our doorstep. I'm referring to a Mother's GUILT.
The very same moment Lucy was placed into my arms, an overwhelming sense of love and affection came over me, like nothing I've ever experienced nor can fully describe. Just moments later, guilt was also placed there. Why? Suddenly I felt guilty for having such a perfect and healthy baby that was so beautiful, and I did absolutely nothing to deserve her. The next few days I felt guilty for the tiniest things... I literally cried after I paged the nurse to take her to the hospital nursery so I could get some sleep. I called my Mother and apologized for everything I had ever done in my youth and said, "I just didn't get it until now. I never appreciated you like I should have. I'm so sorry." I felt guilty when I left her for the first time, with my Mother and ran to Wal-mart with Bert, just to get out of the house for a few moments by ourselves.
As our babies get older, all new Moms experience some form of guilt... Work or stay home? The guilt is there for the working mother, leaving her child during many of his/her waking hours. The guilt is there for the stay-home mom for no longer contributing financially. Often there is the guilt of wishing you were back at work, and not being thankful that you get to be at home. And it doesn't stop there.... The first time your baby rolls off your bed, when you had no idea her rolling capabilities were so advanced, guilt is happy to greet you. Bert has heard me scream once or twice, "You don't need to say ANYTHING! I feel bad enough on my own!" Poor Bert; so many times he never said anything in the first place other than, "What happened?" Logical question, but when guilt is already at play, one feels as if they are being attacked. Guilt is there to greet you when she "cries it out" for the first time and literally cries out for three solid hours before passing out from sheer exhaustion. When you go to tuck her back in and hear her breathing pattern still slightly off-beat from all the crying, you tear up yourself... again... since you cried a good part of that three hours outside her door. But why? You know it's the right thing to do. She can't sleep with you forever. Especially since number two will be here in a few short weeks, and besides, she's now 16 months old. Enter more guilt, only doubled this time.
The last few weeks of my pregnancy with Jack, I felt awful. I was on partial bed rest and barely had the energy to get up and put in another Barney video for Lucy. I felt awful that all she did was watch tv. I felt awful that my last few weeks with just the two of us was being spent like that. I felt bad for robbing Lucy of her babyhood, and forcing her to grow up too fast since a new baby was going to be a part of our lives soon. Friends and even strangers would make comments about how her world was about to be turned upside down, and she didn't have a clue since she was still so young. My heart would sink to think that what they were saying was true. GUILT. It's always there, someway, somehow. I knew that eventually Lucy and Jack would be best buddies, and that in the long run a sibling so close in age was a gift for Lucy. But, at that time I didn't feel that way. I felt guilty with the other two pregnancies as well.
Guilt is there even now, when I receive outside help with childcare. What is it with this nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach that tells me I have to be Super Mom?
Recently, after a tough day with the boys (rain + no running and playing outside = EXTRA WILD HUDSON BOYS) I screamed when it was bedtime, no make that threw a mega temper tantrum at bedtime, and pointed my finger in each of their sweet faces, stomped my foot and literally threw each of them in their beds. As I was walking out of Lucy's room, she whispered, "Momma?" I snapped back, "This is the LAST thing you get to say today, now what?!" She calmly whispered, "I love you." My heart just sank. At this point in my motherhood career, guilt has pushed my heart down to well below my belly button. Later that same night I caught an episode of "Extreme Home Makeover Edition." GUILT-GUILT-GUILT. What's MY problem? There are so many others out there who wake up and struggle just to get out of the bed in the morning. And though I do have an over-dramatic daughter and three of the craziest boys God ever created, they are healthy and happy children! Not to mention St. Jude's fundraising shows-- I won't even go there. But, the guilt... Oh for crying out loud!
Should I keep breastfeeding even though I've gotten mastitis twice in a month?
Should we force her to quit sucking her thumb/give up a passy/blankie/etc at this age? Should I really let him scream the entire time during Bible class, he's only 10 months old!? Should we hold her back a year since she has a late birthday? Public or private schools? Should I have spanked him for that, or am I just being too hard on him today? (Usually not the latter in this house though.) Am I being selfish for using Mother's Day Out and CLEANING MY OWN HOUSE? Is it wrong for me to scream at my husband, in front of my kids, that all I want to do is take a shower ALONE for once without four little heads popping in at various times to tell me pointless details of what's going on in the other rooms? Why didn't I spend more time with Bert instead of going out with my girlfriends? Why haven't I called and checked- up on my girlfriends more?
The list goes on forever.
Is Satan to blame for all of this guilt and doubt? I feel most certain. Satan wants me to think that I have to be Super Mom only to find out that I can't be, which leads to pain, sorrow and guilt to the max. So, I wrote all of this to say, I'm taking my life back.
Mr. Stork, my guilt will be on my doorstep for you to collect first thing in the morning. GOD is back in control of this Momma, and HIS love will be replacing all that wasted guilt. I refuse to feel guilty for being a great mother who makes mistakes sometimes. I refuse to let my messy house get in the way of storytime at the library and playdates at the park. I will not feel guilty for watching "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" instead of folding laundry, or feel guilty that I have four healthy kids. I will pray for those families in need and be more grateful that my life is so easy, and realize that I can do a better job if I'm not bogged down by all that guilt.
Whew, I feel better already.