All blogs are property of authors and copying is not permitted.

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Mom's Guilt

I want to share with you a piece I wrote a few years ago about a mom's guilt. We all deal with it. Some of us struggle more than others. Luckily I have some wonderful children, yet the guilt is still present each day. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

It is fitting that I had this conversation with my son just recently since Mother’s Day is coming up.  Often I hear other people tell me that being a parent means dealing with daily guilt and I suppose that is true.  Since children don’t come with instruction manuals, we are on our own to know what we need to do to make them successful, happy, well-adjusted, and loved. “Did you give them enough attention?  Did you listen to classical music while you were pregnant so that they will become the next Mozart?”  “Were you too brisk with them when they brought you that snake as a gift?”   Some of these things are easier than others and of course, there are times when all those things are very difficult.  If you don’t believe me, just wait until your teenager tells you that they had a “small accident” in your new car! 



As a divorced parent, you face even more guilt.  No matter how wonderful the divorce is, or how necessary, your children’s lives are changed for good.  You begin to question every decision that you made and wonder if you have somehow “damaged” your babies! “Is this house good enough?”  “Should I get mad if they act out or is it because of the divorce?”  If you are lucky enough to find someone who you love and want to spend time with... and are even more lucky to find someone who wants to be with you (kids and all), you face guilt over juggling this fresh romance with the needs of your children.  You might as well build a new garage to house your guilt! “Am I spending too much time with my new boyfriend?”  “Do my children feel that they have been replaced?”



Add to this mix, being a teacher and you have a treacherous situation!  Teachers look at children all day long and question what the parents did or didn’t do to produce these little wonders or little terrors!  We also worry about our progenies acting like some of our little challenges when our own children get to school!  “Will my daughter act up in class?”  “Will my son turn in his homework?”  And with the worry comes the conviction that if the child is a tribulation, it must be because of the parents!  Just shovel the guilt on our shoulders! 

Finally, I decided to call my almost 17 year old son to ask him this one question that had been on my mind all day - “With all that you had gone through in life, how did you turn out so trustworthy?”  I think he was a little shocked that I thought he was such a dependable and honorable young man because it isn’t something that we have talked about before.  He was probably also a little stunned that I wanted to hear his thoughts.  But I thought for sure he had the answer that would help me be a better teacher and give me some perfect insight into what I must have done right!



Let me tell you a little about my son.  He has a wonderful sarcastic sense of humor which hides a very caring nature.  He used to cry if he thought that you were upset or sad as a child.  He faced his share of childhood illnesses and accidents, yet came away not too scared to keep trying.  He looks up to his older sister and admits a little competitiveness to be better than her!  Nonetheless, she was his closest confidant and staunchest supporter when he faced bullies in middle school.  Finally my son has the nature of a miser and will not spend money on things if he feels that they are too expensive.  He would rather give up certain items (or now that he is older-get his own job) because he doesn’t want to hurt us (his parents) financially.

So this was the guy that I went to for some help.  One of the biggest things that he felt was important was the nagging that we did as parents.  He said that he did hear it.  So don’t give up on the million reminders to do your homework or to just walk away when you are being picked on!!  They do hear you!!  Another factor was his personal determination to be a success.  He doesn’t have an exact day or event that caused this but around 8th or 9th grade; he realized that good grades were important to him and his future goals, career, and successes.  And while the time and effort that he sometimes has to put into his school work is vast and the work that he has to do is tedious, the final outcome is worthwhile. My son’s final piece of advice was to have a good sense of humor, using this to be true to yourself and not let the world get you down.  With humor, he has found that it is easier to stand up for yourself, avoid conflicts, and surround yourself with people who accept you as you are. 



So after about an enjoyable hour on the phone, I thought, “Seems simple!  Seems like something that we all can do!!”  And I also was very glad that I had done something right throughout those almost 17 years! I have some pretty magnificent children!   Even with all the things that we worry about and feel guilty over; our children really do appreciate what we have given them, the foundation that they need to become breathtaking adults. 


Happy Mother’s Day!  Laugh a lot, live well, and love unconditionally!  

Melissa Keir is an award winning author of small town contemporary romances with sizzle. She loves to connect with readers and can be found on facebook and her website.

29 comments:

Kristen Brockmeyer said...

What a great post! I get mommy guilt all the time, being a working mom with a stay-at-home husband, and it does help to step back and take a good hard look at my kids and how proud I am of them. Happy Mother's Day!

Patricia Kiyono said...

Great post, Melissa. I felt guilty about all the time I spent away from my kids, and they did complain about the fact that I couldn't be there for some of the things they did in school, and couldn't bring things to them when they forgot. But later on - i think my older daughter was in junior high - one of them told me she was glad I worked, because it made her more independent than her friends whose moms were ALWAYS there. She was proud of herself for being able to do her own problem solving. And now she's a working mom with a thriving career and happy, well-adjusted kids. Best Mother's Day gift ever.

Tina Donahue said...

Um - as the child of two people who absolutely loathed each other and should have never married (but did) and should have been divorced quickly (but never did), divorce is a blessing I wish I had experienced. Their never ending fights, snide remarks, negative energy wore on me as a child. It took a long time for me to open up to people (still don't do it totally).

Never feel guilty for making the right choice. If you and your spouse simply can't get along, then divorce ASAP. It's healthier for everyone, especially the children.

Trust me, I know.

Paris said...

I think all parents worry and experience guilt at some point because, and this is just my opinion; we don't want to make the same mistakes we think our parents made. When your children smile and tell you they think you did a great job, it's Mother's Day, no matter what month or day it is. That's the most rewarding gift, ever:) Happy Mother's Day!

Lucy Naylor Kubash said...

Nice post, Melissa. I think we all suffer from guilt when our kids are little and as they progress through the teen-age years, but I'm happy to say that once they become adults and responsible for their own lives, things do (at least they did for me) change. My daughter and son make me very proud of the people they have become, and we are now more best friends than parent/child. They've always been supportive of my writing, too.
Happy Mother's Day to you!

Rose Gorham said...

What a wonderful post for Mother's Day! Thanks for sharing.

Lynda Bailey said...

Awesome post, Melissa! Yes, "mommy guilt" gets to us all... sigh. Even as a stay-home mom with a hubby who provided a darn fine living, there is guilt. You can't escape it. But when you see your kiddo (or kiddos) take responsibility for themselves, all that guilt melts into pride. ;)
Happy Mother's Day!

Melissa Keir said...

Kristen- Happy Mother's Day! It sure is a tough job. The hours are long but certainly worth the effort. I also did the stay at home when my kids were little. I cherished that time with them.

Patricia- I think guilt goes with the territory. I agree about teaching our children independence. I see too many helicopter parents who rescue their children and the children don't know how to take ownership. Happy Mother's Day!

Melissa Keir said...

Tina- I understand your pain. My parents used to say that they stayed together for us children. It was a hard situation to be in. I did take the divorce route but didn't do it until I was sure it was the best and only option. Now my children are better off and I'm sorry about your childhood. I'm glad to hear that sometimes divorce is worth it.

Melissa Keir said...

Paris-Isn't it funny when our parents are coming out of our mouths? We don't want to be our parents, yet we channel them! Happy Mother's Day!!

Lucy-I do like the new relationship I have with my children now that they are adults. It's certainly different but I'm so proud to see the people they've become. Happy Mother's Day!

Melissa Keir said...

Rose- Thank you for commenting. :)

Lynda- What a great feeling when your child acts in a responsible manner and you've known you taught them to be the best they can be. :) Happy Mother's Day!

D'Ann said...

Good post! I have an only child and have been blessed by a good girl. She was a dream kid. Honest, responsible, caring. Athlete, good student. I don't know what we did right, but I'd have ten more if they were like my kid, now an adult.

Maris said...

Love your post. Mom worry and Mom guilt never go away, no matter what the age of your children. The pleasure is when you discover your children are doing just fine (perhaps inspite of you).

Jennifer Lowery Kamptner said...

Beautiful post, Melissa! Guilt is a mom's burden and we carry is so well, lol. I'm blessed with two wonderful kids, but I feel guilty everyday with the things I should have done different, done more, done less, etc. Then I look at my kids and wonder how they turned out so good. Certainly not because of me, lol.
Happy Mother's Day to all you mom's out there!

Sandy said...

What a wonderful post. I don't feel a lot of guilt for our children, but I do over our grandchildren. I feel like we haven't been there for them, and I really blame my writing for that. Oh sure, it's really my fault because I made the choice to write rather than go to games.

vicki batman said...

OHG, Melissa! I love this post.

We aren't given the award-winning toolkit when we have kids. But it is our job to instill the values that will help them grow up to be contributing members of society. Ones who will laugh and love. Ones who will work and pray.

jean hart stewart said...

Great post....I have wonderful children and am so blessed. My son is visiting now. He makes it a point to spend every mother's day with me..

Molly Daniels said...

I often wonder if I've provided a bad model for my kids by staying in a borderline abusive marriage, simply so they would have both parents in the home and I could stay home and write. And now I'm second-guessing myself about home schooling my youngest next year.

You can't stop the guilt, but you can learn to let it go and trust in God that your decisions are wise ones. I now have a beautiful granddaughter and while I'm certainly not trying to make up for past mistakes, I AM working to provide her with a loving, stable, home until my daughter is able to provide for her. I hope to provide a solid foundation of loving discipline so when that time comes and I'm no longer the primary parent, my daughter can pick up where we left off. Does that make any sense?

Jill Hughey said...

Nice thoughtful post, as always, Melissa. I, too, have a 17 year old son. He's getting tons of attention right now because he's a stand-out athlete in track and has prom this weekend, so most of my guilt revolves around our younger son becoming lost in the shadow of elder brother. Sigh. Hopefully the awareness of our potential failures as parents means we are paying enough attention to ultimately succeed!!

Rohn Federbush said...

My sons' father and I were divorced when they were very small and I remarried enough to make their heads swim. But they turned out to be responsible adults with families of their own. I'm proud of both of them for ignoring most of what I taught them to live happy lives.

Rohn Federbush said...

My sons' father and I were divorced when they were very small and I remarried enough to make their heads swim. But they turned out to be responsible adults with families of their own. I'm proud of both of them for ignoring most of what I taught them to live happy lives.

Rohn Federbush said...

My sons' father and I were divorced when they were very small and I remarried enough to make their heads swim. But they turned out to be responsible adults with families of their own. I'm proud of both of them for ignoring most of what I taught them to live happy lives.

Daryl Devore said...

Great post. Sons like a wonderful son. Happy Mother's day on Sunday.

Diane Burton said...

I'm glad you reposted this. I can say "ditto" on the guilt. Now that my kids are grown & on their own, I see the terrific adults they are. Hubs & I must have done something good. :)

Melissa Keir said...

D'Ann- Isn't it wonderful to know now that we did something right? I wish I could have known some of that when they were little!

Maris- Thank you! I know that I do appreciate how well my children are doing. I feel so very fortunate.

Jennifer- Thank you! I do think you are a pretty awesome person so I'm sure your children do as well!

Melissa Keir said...

Sandy,
I don't have the grandchildren yet, but I can only imagine the guilt I will feel if I don't live closeby. I was so fortunate to have my grandparents close and it was the best part of childhood.

Thank you Vicki. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. It would have been so much more helpful to have that toolkit!

Melissa Keir said...

Jean- You are so blessed. I'm glad your son makes it a priority to spend time with you!

Molly- I'm sure it's hard. My step-sons have their own issues and we've had a hard time raising them. I never know when to rush in to help or to step back. I'm sure you doing a wonderful job with your granddaughter. I love hearing about her in your life.

Melissa Keir said...

Jill- I'm glad your son is enjoying his school years. I was in a hurry to leave and get away. Sure miss those years now. And no matter what age, it's hard to not be in one of your siblings' shadows (I'm the oldest of 5). Happy Mother's Day!

Rohn,
Thank you for posting. I wonder if other choices I make each day will continue to impact my children, even though they are adults. I'm glad you have some wonderful children.

Melissa Keir said...

Diane,
Thank you for visiting. It does feel good when you look back and know you did something good! Happy Mother's Day!

Daryl, Thanks for stopping by. Would you believe I worry about as much about my fur-babies too??

Share buttons