Monday, November 8, 2010

The Guilt of Being Someone’s Mother

Sometimes the guilt overwhelms and consumes me. This weekend when my husband and I went to my daughter’s cheerleading competition he said, “They did well, but they would’ve done better if they had a better coach.” I heard, “You were the head cheerleader at an NCAA college, why didn’t you coach our daughter’s squad so they could win the competition.” And I felt inside, so so guilty that I had said no to this very item. Having two other children and an opposite work schedule from my husband I didn’t have a choice to say yes. As I said to the person who had asked me to coach, “I can’t watch my own two toddler boys and coach a team of 15 or 20 pre-teen girls at the same time.” Not possible. Still, the moment rankles. I know that what he said wasn’t directed at me. But it’s so hard not to hear it that way.

More and more of my life I seem to be having these guilt-ridden moments. If only I stayed home with them then I wouldn’t have to make these awful choices. Part of me says that I don’t have a choice. We live in an expensive area and although we bought a very reasonable home in the not-so-fancy part of town our mortgage is still substantial. We couldn’t afford to own our home if I didn’t work. Would we be just as happy in some basement rental with mom at home? I read a lot of blogs these days about being fiscally and financially sound, frugal living, environmental choices, child rearing, couponing, etc. Many of the women and men who write these blogs have made the choice to stay home and live with less than ideal housing situations. I am thrilled to read their articles and even more thrilled when it saves my own family more money. I wonder though if their choices are permeating my shield.
Every time I have to say “no” to my children’s school or to coaching or to something related to one of their activities it pounds on my heart. It makes the guilt sink deeper into my soul.

At work, I feel like what I do makes a difference in other people’s lives. In the past two years, I have helped twelve families rehabilitate their homes through the no interest loan program I run. I have helped the Town I work for utilize their long term capital budgeting to make prudent choices on behalf of the community of over thirty thousand people. Over the fifteen years of my professional career, I have helped permit facilities for the elderly, day care homes and centers, home occupations, in-law apartments and more. The people that these facilities affect are important too, aren’t they?
Still, the guilt rankles. Today, I’m having a hard time putting it away…

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