I was sending silly Snapchat videos back and forth with one of my best friends yesterday, like we usually do; and he, in jest, said that he was so tired after his day of work that he didn’t know if he could parent anymore today. He was on his way to pick up his daughter up from preschool and he was hoping that she wasn’t going to be too hyper when she got home because he was just plain tired. SO should we as parents feel guilty about…well…about being tired?
Daniel decided that he didn’t want to play baseball this year. He has usually been a three athlete kid but he decided that he wanted to concentrate on two sports instead of three. We respected his decision and have been patiently waiting for Football season to start. As the baseball season has been in full swing, I have noticed all of my Facebook friends talking about how tired they are from working all day and then flying down the road to get kids and drag them to this practice or that next game. So why do I feel guilty about being happy of his decision not to play baseball? We as parents are conditioned to believe that we have to do everything for our children and be happy about it…or we are bad parents. You feel as if there is something wrong with you if you really just don’t want to watch another episode of Spongebob Squarepants.
Yesterday, Daniel was following me around reading his new video game magazine and
all he wanted to do was tell me about a contest that they were advertising in the magazine. We had just walked in the door and between changing clothes to head to the gym and talking to my wife, I had yet to even take a breathe to relax. I lost my cool and told him to ‘please stop talking about video games for 5 seconds’. To a 12 year old, who was excited to talk to his dad about something that he is passionate about, it crushed him. I immediately felt the guilt and my face flushed red and I could feel myself welling up with tears. His unhappiness is the last thing in the world that I would want…and I know that I am not the only parent who just wants 5 seconds to chill. I want to tell you that you are not alone. Well moms and dads, here are some things to NOT feel guilty for but it may be a topic that you need to address.
Guilty as Charged:
- Yelling – I’ve done it. You’ve done it. According to Devra Renner, co-author of the book Mommy Guilt, says that yelling is the one thing that that was the #1 thing that all of the 1,300 women that she interviewed for her book revealed to be the thing that caused them to feel the most guilty. Some parents have elevated levels of communication. That’s just how they roll. Some kids know that when Momma starts talking with her teeth together and her voice is low….its time to leave Momma alone. The decibel of your communication is something that accidently comes out. We lose our temper. Sometimes, we as parents, get frustrated and loose our cool. We yell out of frustration. But when that is all our child knows…then there is our problem. If you always yell at your kids, then you need to take a step back and evaluate your manner of communication.
- Work – Someone in the family has to work. Money doesn’t grow on trees. I’ve had conversations with many of my friends and they always express to me that they feel like they are losing out on pivotal moments of their child’s life because they are working so much. What can you do when your trying to balance being a spouse, parent and a demanding 40+ hour-a-week job? First off…don’t let it get you down. Realize that your kids love you and after they are grown, they will realize how hard you worked for them. Take advantage of the precious time that you have with them. Know that work is important but your family needs to be a priority as well. Take time to support your son at his Karate tournament, your kid at their dance recital, or to watch your little girl at her first softball game. Take time to play with them. You don’t have to dedicate hours to playing with them or buying expensive toys or going to expensive water parks every day. Memories are made right in your living room playing pretend or by kissing your child on the forehead after reading them a bedtime story. Basically, just create a work schedule that is flexible enough for your family to realize that they are just as important to you.
- Taking a Break – Sometimes you just need a break. I don’t mean a Kit-Kat Bar (even though I need one of those right now), but what I mean is that sometimes you just want to walk away from the crying babies and the chaos of our lives. You of course feel guilty about it because you love your family BUT it is important to take some time to recharge. Whether it is something as simple as a bubble bath while your husband takes the kids to the park, a couple of afternoons a week at the gym, or a night at Hooters with your buddies to get some chicken wings and a beer. Some people need that recharge and you shouldn’t feel like you’re not making the right decisions. Just because you’re a parent, doesn’t mean that you give up being a person. You need to care about your own mental well being as well. Your spouse should respect that and not think the worst of you when you want to have some ‘you’ time (and no I’m not talking to my friend’s ex-wife…or am I).
- Play – I touched on spending time and playing with your kids earlier and I just wanted to touch on it once more. I know that in today’s crazy life, actually taking the time and slowing down long enough to play Legos with your son or to have another tea party with your daughter. Before you feel guilty about seeing your son or daughter playing by themselves or them complaining about being bored; I want you to remember that YOUR CHILD DOES NOT HAVE TO BE ENTERTAINED EVERY SECOND OF EVERY DAY! BUT you should dedicate some time to your child, even if its for only an hour. Some parents are the ones that will get down in the floor and give horse back rides or will pretend to be Princesses with their daughters for hours…but some are not. You should not feel guilty about that. Find something that you and your child both enjoy, so you can build a long lasting memory with your child.
- Acceptance – I’m not in your house but I’m assuming that you are a good parent. So you need to accept that fact. You are a good parent! Being a perfect wife, husband or parent is impossible. What we can do is realize that the photo-shopped, Susie home-maker, super-mother is a fallacy. Realize that we will fall short of scaling the mountain of tasks that it takes to reach perfection. Besides being tired from our normal lives, the last thing that we need to be is riddled with anxiety and guilt-ridden by some cookie cutter expectation. If your child goes to school wearing two different colored socks…its not the end of the world. Remember to try and be a positive role model for your children by handling the things that life pushes our way with a happy, good-humored demeanor.
I’m not a registered family therapist. I’m not even a perfect parent. What I do is I know a couple of things. I know that you don’t need to feed into the guilt mongers. Don’t worry about the judgement of the pretentious parenting police who judge you when you get to baseball practice five minutes too late with a kid whose shirt is untucked and hair is unbrushed, all while he’s taking his last bite of his McDonald’s Happy Meal cheeseburger that you picked up on your way to take kid number 3 to dance practice. We’re busy. It’s life. Just remember that it’s not about the quantity of the items that your child has or how many times that they have been to Carowinds. What matters most is the quality of the hours that you spend with your child. That is what makes the difference when they grow up and look back on their lives.
Feature Image: Father and son Surf lesson image by and accredited to “Mike” Michael L. Baird, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9176643
Reading a Bedtime story to my Daughter image by and attributed to Ludwig Bemelmans, Ldorfman – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18437032
Boy with McDonalds Happy Meal image attributed to uploader. Own work. Fair use.