|Motherhood is like a flower. A beautiful, stunning, guilt ridden flower.|
One of the things I know to be true about motherhood is that it involves guilt.
That guilt is hard to shake in no small part because our fears often dress up in a WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?! outfit. That kid who’s constantly whining for candy? Don’t blame the kid, blame the parents. Whatever you do make sure you blame someone because if non-ideal outcomes sometimes just happen despite everyone’s best efforts then they can happen to you and me.
That kid over there who just pantsed herself in the middle of the grocery store? There’s no way I want that to be my kid. So it’s probably her mom’s fault. If she just spent more quality time with her rather than going to her book club or whatever then she’d have much better manners. I mean, seriously, lady – what’s more important? Chardonnay and “Gone Girl” or YOUR CHILD? You’re a mother. Act like it.
Motherhood as martyrdom always shows up to the party at some point. I don’t know about you but all I need in the world is the look of joy in my precious baby’s eyes. I understand that some mothers feel the need to do regular human person stuff that has nothing to do with children. And I don’t judge them. I respect their choice to prioritize their own selfish needs over those of their poor, helpless children. But me? I prefer to focus on cherishing my family. When I’m doing pee soaked laundry I don’t think of it as a chore. It’s a blessing.
Only that’s bullshit. Motherhood is only one aspect of the human experience and as with all the others, it has its pluses and minuses. You can pretend otherwise and make a point of telling everyone about it but then you’re kind of a… what’s a nice way to say “disingenuous asshole?”
Even if you roll your eyes at its inherent obnoxiousness, motherhood as martyrdom has this weird sway because it’s hard to know how to navigate ourselves through all our roles. Many of the authentic, non-jerk mothers I make a point of surrounding myself with face guilt about wanting non-family time on Mother’s Day.
“Truthfully, all I want is to do on Mother’s Day is sleep in, pee alone, read a good book, and maybe get a pedicure. But I feel bad even saying that. I feel like I should be spending Mother’s Day, you know, mothering.” That’s the kind of thing these good mothers say.
But not me. I say, “I’m gonna spend the afternoon doing me stuff. Do not attempt to contact me, loving family. I’ll see you at dinner. Could you make reservations at that seafood place I love but you guys aren’t that big on?”
I’m an unabashed me-time enthusiast.
Now that I’m having my alone time, though, I’m thinking about how maybe it’s weird that I’m so okay with telling my family to shove off. I don’t feel selfish, exactly. Just kind of like a mutant.
How is this mutation going to express itself in other aspects of my parenting? Will it make me too detached? What if my kid is being pressured to do drugs and thinks, “I’ll talk to my mom about this… Wait. No. She’s an unapproachable me-time enthusiast who wouldn’t even let me pick out a restaurant for her on Mother’s Day. So cocaine it is, I guess?”
Motherhood, man. It brings the guilt.