It tends to come in all shapes and sizes.
That frozen peanut butter and jelly that gets thrown in the lunch box instead of a beautifully made sandwich. Choosing to go to the gym for an hour after work instead of heading straight home. Turning on the TV so that you actually have two minutes to do something, literally anything, without tripping over little bodies as they follow you around, constantly chattering about God knows what.
This week, it came in the shape of an invitation to join my son's class on Friday for American Education Week.
Having just taken off to go with him on a field trip and already planning on taking off to see him play in a flag football turkey bowl with his aftercare program next week, I knew there was no way I was going to be able to swing it. Not to mention an IEP meeting scheduled for the same time, a due date for progress notes and a week of days that had me swearing it was a full moon. Oh, and my need to actually keep my job... there was just no way.
The week blew by with work, school, daycare, meals, baths, grocery shopping that never happened over the weekend, laundry that looked like it never happened over the weekend, stubborn toddlers, whiny three year olds, and never ending games of football in my living room that always, always end in someone getting hurt.
Friday morning comes, I sit down at my desk after the rat race of the morning and I suddenly realize that I had not once talked to my son about not being able to make it.
Cue the mom guilt.
I immediately pictured him sitting in class, wondering why I wasn't there. I had an image of all the other kids in his class with their parents there and the lonely silhouette of my baby sitting at his little desk, the only one without a parent.
As much as I forgot to tell him I wouldn’t be able to be there, I also didn’t tell him I would be there- so of course he wouldn’t be expecting me. And there was likely many other parents who were in the exact same boat as me and couldn’t take off work in the middle of the day, the Friday before Thanksgiving week.
Yet despite my sensible side screaming these things to me, that damn Mom guilt took over. I spent the day with an unsettled worry in the back of my mind.
With my son being at his dads for the weekend, I immediately picked up my phone and called him when I left work. His chipper voice answered the phone with “hi Mom” and immediately launched into a story about a football move he created while practicing for the turkey bowl. When he paused for a second, I cautiously asked about the American Education Week event and apologized for not being able to make it.
It’s okay, Mom. But that football move was a good one, right?
And just like that, the guilt went away.
Because reality is, us moms do more than what is humanly possible on a daily basis. We take care of a million needs that are not our own from the second we wake to the minute the last little eyes close. We multi-task by making food with babies on our hips, doing laundry while playing baby dolls and packing lunches while helping with homework. We kiss boo boos, give baths, make snacks and nurse babies while doing all of the above. We wake sleepy, grumpy kids who mysteriously can’t sleep past 5am on weekends, wrestle them into clothes and deliver them to various locations, often at the crack of dawn.
We care so much that we want to be at everything. So much that we’ve looked up “cloning” on Google and when that didn’t sound promising, we’ve manipulated schedules and lost sleep and eaten on the run, just to try to make it all work. We care so much that we have visions of our baby crying in class at American Education Week because his mama wasn’t there.
When really, it was no big deal. Now that newly discovered sweet football move... that was a big deal.
So take it easy on yourselves, mamas.
They know you love them, even if you couldn’t make it to American Education Week.