Oftentimes, in the summertime, I feel guilty because I don't feel like I'm doing "enough" with my kids. I dont' even know what "enough" looks like, but I feel guilty for not doing it.
I remember my friend Rach feeling guilty for not baking "enough" cookies with her daughter, Hannah, who passed away after a drowning accident. I can so easily relate to that...Asher has been asking us to put training wheels on his bike for weeks, and finally I looked at Scott and said, "Step up to the plate and take him to Home Depot to get nuts for his training wheels, dude."
But I always wonder, in our mothers' hearts, what would be "enough". You can be a TERRIFIC parent and still feel guilt over what you didn't do. We never think about all that we DID do, you know?
I think there are so many ways to feel guilty as a parent. I got into a discussion with my brother while we were on vacation. His contention was that "housewives have never had it easier." In some ways I agree, and in some ways I don't.
Ways we have it easier:
1. modern conveniences like refrigerators, washers, dryers, cars
2. grocery stores, easily accessible and convenient food
3. smaller families, not as many kids to take care of
My brother was saying that you hear lots of women with two kids talking about how "crazy" it is at home at night or how getting together a meal for the family is hard. And in that way, I suppose you could say we're soft.
But, here's my rebuttal. Every good debater in my family loves a rebuttal.
Ways it is harder:
1. My kids can't run around the neighborhood like stray dogs the way kids could do it 50 years ago in the summertime. Mothers wouldn't see their kids until twilight, when it was bath and bed time. The next day, they'd do it all over again. If I let my kids sit on the front step unattended while I load my ever-so-convenient dishwasher, I feel like my neighbors will call the cops. I don't feel like it's safe.
2. Social expectations are different. I was talking to a friend yesterday who feels like she has to put her three-year-old in preschool because that's what you do. If you don't do that, your kid is going to somehow be this underdeveloped freak who doesn't know how to interact with anyone else socially. I feel guilty if I don't take my kids to have 3 or more "play dates" a week, because maybe then they'll have problems relating to other kids in the future. (I don't truly believe this, but my heart sometimes has other ideas than my brain really knows.)
3. Barack Obama has made everything more difficult. It's all his fault. OK, I just threw that one in there.
4. Social media makes being a mother more difficult. Not only do I feel like I have to call someone back the same day they have called or I am being rude, I have a cell phone to contend with, texting to do, emails to check, and 476 social networking sites I need to maintain. Lots of people to keep up contact with, which takes considerable time away from my children. Another reason for guilt.
5. Getting together with other mothers is not as easy as it used to be. It used to be that getting together with other moms meant meeting at the local park. Most of us don't live in small communities any more. We live in big cities where a sense of real community is all but extinct.
6. #5 makes us feel more isolated than ever.
7. There are more pressures on children than ever before. I don't think, 50 years ago, some kid was asking her mom if she could dress like Lindsey Lohan at the ripe old age of 10. "Sorry, honey, mommy's not going to let you go to school looking like a hooker," was probably not something the mom of 50 years ago had to worry about saying.
8. Everywhere I go, everywhere my husband goes, everywhere my kids go, there is a barrage of information to take in. Television, internet, tv. You can't sit in a public restroom without an advertisement on the wall. You can't escape it. It is hard to be still, to be quiet. There is always something more "pressing" to do. Tyranny of the urgent, as one guy who lived a long time ago put it (can't remember his name).
8. There is an unspoken, everywhere, that the busier you are, the more important you are. Volunteer for church functions, volunteer at your kid's school, volunteer here, volunteer there. It's an interesting phenomenon to me, and one I've been paying attention to more lately. I often wonder how much quality time at home the people who are constantly volunteering are actually getting. As I recently told a friend, "There are only 24 hours in a day for ALL of us. No one gets more. So the person who is doing 9 billion things outside of the home is letting other things slide. It's a simple fact."
While I go cry into my soup, give me some more. Agree? Disagree?