I’m sure this isn’t a phenomenon unique only to me, but ever since I became a parent, I carry with me a tremendous sense of overwhelming, all encompassing, sometimes crippling guilt.
It usually surfaces, unsurprisingly, when I surface. That is, when I emerge from the clutches of stay-at-home momness and leave kid-less for whatever errand begs my attention at the moment. Whether it’s buying groceries alone, shopping alone or (like last night) getting a pedicure alone.
My trip to the salon was supposed to be a restorative mini-retreat for my soul (and callous heels), but despite my attempts to be mindful and zen, I was a jittery, guilty mess. I felt terrible that the dishes from dinner were left undone on the counter, I felt guilty that this was the second night in a row that I had met my husband and the door after work and left him to fend for himself during bath and bedtime, and I felt guilty for the time and money I was spending on my toenails when there are a million other things that could use my attention and funds.
When my solo errands are a little less me-centric, I can usually mitigate the guilt with the relief that productivity brings. I can do ten times the errands alone in the time it takes to caravan the kids around town grabbing groceries, mailing packages and depositing cheques. (More likely withdrawing cash.)
But when my nights off or weekends away are all about me (i.e. pedicures, hair cuts, very necessary and very painful swimsuit shopping) I find it hard to justify my absence from home. I worry about the state of the house, the stock of food in the fridge, the mood of the kids and the sanity of my husband who I’ve left solely in charge. I sometimes judge myself so harshly that it makes it impossible for me to enjoy my few minutes of freedom.
But this is where things get ridiculous, because as my co-parent and legally binding partner often reminds me, he is perfectly capable and totally happy to do this. He loves it. He’s an awesome dad, and the kids usually prefer their fun Daddy-time to the hours of hustle and shuffling of Mommy-time.
And this makes me feel every more guilty.
It’s no secret that during the day, parents who stay at home with their kids have shit to do. There is very little time to relax and connect with your kids, and when those wonderful moments do arise during the daytime hours, you have to be very mindful of them or you will miss them. When my husband gets home from work, this should be the time when I can clock-out of the housekeeping, bookkeeping and kid-keeping and enjoy my time with the kids. This is what my husband tries to do.
But lately, instead, I’ve been zipping out the door to try and tackle the mounting to-do list that accompanies this time of year, this stage of parenting and this mom’s attempts at maintaining sanity.
Yes, I know these private moments away are good for me. I know that I’m a better mom and partner when I’m feeling restored. I know that these feelings of guilt are not only useless and unnecessary, but a little destructive. I know the sky will not fall.
And I guess I can reluctantly admit that I love my new toes.
(In a shade called Lobster Roll, because obviously.)