The struggle is real.
Yesterday was just one of those days. I don’t even know why. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened. There wasn’t a trigger that I could pin point to tipping me over that edge I work so hard to stay balanced on every day. I had even gotten a really good, dead to the world, full night of sleep the night before.
But, I was drowning.
I was struggling hard to keep my head above the rough waters that include my two kids under 5, watching my daycare kids, taking care of our home, cooking meals, paying bills, all of it. It was one wave after another pushing me under. There wasn’t a sudden ripe tide that pulled me down, but just the normal tide going in and out. I was drowning in it.
You might be thinking this girl needs a vacation! Or a stiff drink! Or both! And you might be right, however, I had to take what I could get and that was a trip to the local grocery store by myself.
There I was. Strolling the aisles of paradise for thirty blissful minutes. I even treated myself to a candy bar. Why I didn’t buy a whole bag of chocolate is a question I pondered all day today, but I would have ended up sharing with my kids anyway. So, there I was sitting in my car, in the dark, with the radio on, and enjoying a Milky Way down to the last bite; when it hit.
I felt guilty for everything all at once.
Why didn’t I bring the girls with me to the grocery store when they had asked?
Why didn’t I get them a treat when I got myself one?
Did I not love my kids enough?
Why did I feel like I needed to get away so strongly?
Shouldn’t I sprinting through the aisles so I could get back home?
What made today such a bad day when nothing bad had happened?
Why did I buy this candy bar when we’re suppose to be on a diet?
I should really get my butt back to the gym!
I need to take better care of myself, but I just don’t have time.
So I did what my mom guilt told me to do, and I started back home. I wasn’t feeling better about myself or my day, and I knew I wasn’t ready to walk back into that swelling ocean, but that’s what I was suppose to do, right? On the drive across town I took the longer route, I drove exactly the speed limit and I didn’t mind when I hit every single red light. I might have even been a little happy about it if I’m being completely honest. However, at that last red light, it hit me again.
Why wasn’t I rushing to get back home?
Shouldn’t I be there for bath time?
Shouldn’t I be spending the few hours we have in the evening together as a family?
What if they need me for something?
I should be more patient.
Do they feel abandoned by me when I leave?
I hope they aren’t watching tv. I let them watch too much tv.
I should have bought more vegetables.
They probably eat too much sugar.
Why do I even feel guilty?
Can’t I have my own time?
I was buying groceries for my family!
This shouldn’t even count as me time.
Great, now I feel guilty about feeling guilty!
The list goes on and on and on….
The truth, I got home and everything was fine. My husband had them in the tub. I put the groceries away and joined them. They were happy to see me, yes, but they didn’t seem to feel abandoned at all. There were no tears, no fears of me leaving them forever, nothing but the normal love and cuddling I get before they drift off to sleep.
The truth, I think it hurts me more to be away from them. It also hurts that I crave that time away from them.
The truth, I have amazing kids. They really are. I know it will kill me when they don’t need me for everything all day long. I mean, would I love a trip to the bathroom by myself? Absolutely! Someday, though, when those trips to pee alone are the new normal, I will miss them then too.
The truth, I have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about by going to the grocery store alone. I have nothing to feel guilty about by going anywhere alone. At the end of the day, I know that my kids feel loved. They will still feel loved if I’m buying more apple juice without them.
Now, even though I know these things, the mom guilt will continue. Do I have all the answers to make it go away? Nope, I sure don’t. So I will continue to sneak off to the grocery store and eat candy bars alone in my car. I will continue to have a want to be with them all the time, and also a want to be by myself.
So, next time you find yourself dreaming of some me time, know that you are not alone in your desire to be alone. We need to be alone sometimes so we can be better when we are with them. Take those little moments in the car eating a candy bar, soaking in the bathtub with the door locked, getting up before anyone else just to enjoy the quiet. Take those moment and enjoy them. We are all doing the best we can and our kids love us for that!
You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of you, so you can take care of them.