When my kids were in Nursery School and in those tender transitional moments when we had such difficulty separating for even ten minutes, the teacher in her infinite wisdom instructed the panicked group of parents that we had become to “be excited about separating so you can be excited to come back together”. She went on to suggest that we don’t make the all too easy declaration that “mommy doesn’t want to go to work”, because while that might be true, our kids should be left with a thought of us having fun in our day, so they felt free to have fun in their day. Okay, the topic today is mommy guilt. Working mommy guilt. Guilt that mommies feel when we do anything that doesn’t involve our uterus or the product of said uterus.
According to a recent study, this guilt is not a part of daddy-ness. So working fathers don’t have this over-guilt about working like we do? And they don’t have a uterus? Maybe it is actually our GD uterus’s fault and not the fact that our heart and soul is being tested daily by trying to do it all and of course do it ALL really really well. Because if we don’t achieve success in both being a “mommy” and being a “working woman” we are screwed or at least we think so. Oh and of course success means having both happy and content children as well as spouse and doing a stellar job where we work.
Winnicott talked about the concept of the “good enough mother”, that parenthood was inherently vulnerable to imperfection, and that the goal should be to be good enough. What a dream! If I could allow myself to be comfortable with good enough, then I and by extension Michael, Tova and Asher could relax and enjoy each other more while also feeling free to love other things.
Because the truth is, I love my job. AND of course, I love my kids. I want to be 100% present for all the moments of their life. I want to know their friends, offer them fresh baked cookies and organic, free range, farmers market milk when they get home from school. But I love my job, too, which means that I want to spend time in my office, make lots of time for being with and thinking about my clients, have fresh farmers market procured produce available in the waiting room for their consumption. Is it just me, or does everybody feel more cared for when their food comes from the farmers market? It’s something about the event of it all. That the farmers took time to nurture and grow this fresh produce and then bring it to your neighborhood where you have made time to lazily walk from stand to stand, sampling berries and tomatoes, listening to local buskers…it’s the ultimate gift of slowing down with your family, mingling with your neighbors, eating good food, but I digress…
I want to do it all. In fact, if I could figure it out, id probably try to grow my own produce to sell as a family at the Farmers Market so that I could teach my kids about botany and economics, while allowing them to help earn their college tuitions and accruing good family togetherness time. However, doing it all is an impossible, unattainable goal. So we make concessions. I am never going to be the mom to mix flour and milk and eggs in my standing mixer to make fresh cookies; we buy a tub of cookie dough and sometimes just dip spoons into that. It’s delicious and we enjoy our time together.
Do I feel a little guilty about not doing it the other way? Sometimes. Sometimes, it just takes too much time to feel guilty, so I focus on the things I can do. I try to remember to be grateful and celebratory in the time we do have, and to enjoy my moments of mothering while I am in them. I want to be the best at everything at home and at work, and sometimes I fall short. But I am focusing today on allowing myself to be good enough, while also allowing myself to fully love the times when I am not mothering. Perfectly good enough. Because I do believe that my enjoyment of my time that is separate from my kids does allow my kids to feel free to enjoy their time that is separate from me. And truly, when we come together it is an exciting time of sharing the events of our days… sometimes while eating raw cookie dough from the tub without a single piece of fresh produce in sight!