Monday, January 10, 2011

Giving Up Feeling Guilty Over Feeling Guilty

Does that sound right?

You may know the feeling.  The twinges of guilt you get when you feel guilty over leaving your children with a babysitter (such as grandma).  You feel guilt even when you know the kids are not thinking about you and are having a blast.  Then you start to feel guilty that you feel guilty.  Why can't you enjoy your time away from the kids without that guilt marring a beautiful evening out with friends or date night with hubby?

I know I am guilty as charged.  And not just over leaving my kids but also not spending enough time on my appearance and so on.  Then I feel bad that I am wasting time dwelling on it.  So what if I don't buy into the whole looking perfect thing before I step out of the house (which seriously, what mom has the time for that)?  I have more important concerns in the morning such as getting my daughter to school on time.  Sometimes that doesn't leave time for a blow-out or a blow dry of any kind.  If you ever see me in a baseball cap or a winter cap, I can pretty much guarantee that my hair is wet underneath or that I didn't shower yet today.  Now you know my secret.

I had an epiphany the other evening. 

The day had started like any other.

I had playgroup and off I went with the girls.  I actually had dry hair that morning which was unusual so maybe it wasn't like any other.  My husband was working from home that day and was upstairs when we arrived home. 

While I took off the girls coats, he casually asked if I wanted to go to Emeril's for dinner.  He also mentioned he had already called his mom to babysit since she was planning to watch the girls for my OB appointment in the afternoon anyway.

I looked at him like he had grown an extra appendage before I gave my answer.  "Are you serious?  Of course, I want to go."

My mother-in-law had watched the girls the day before New Year's and she had kept them overnight so my husband and I could attend a neighbor's New Year's Eve Party.  We had made plans to go to the farmer's market sans kids, do some things around the house, have a nice dinner, and then go to the party. 

The night before I asked my husband if he had thought about making reservations for dinner.  He hadn't which meant most places would be booked solid.  "That was okay," he said. "We'll figure something out."

We ended up eating lunch at the farmer's market and by the time dinner rolled around, neither of us was very hungry so we ended up skipping dinner. So much for our nice dinner out.

That night at the party I was part of a conversation where we were talking about nice restaurants. Hearing everyone listing all the great new local restaurants that we hadn't visited, I felt a yearning for my old life.  I couldn't remember the last time I ate at a really nice restaurant that was not kid friendly and that had a wine list.  Granted the one woman had older kids and the one gentleman had an empty nest. There had been a time BK (Before Kids) when we would frequently go out for a nice dinner, enjoy a few glasses of wine, and then stay up late on the town.  Those days I took for granted.  I even took the food for granted.  It took a lot for me to get enthusiastic over food.  Now if I don't have to cook it I am pretty enthusiastic.

So when my husband asked me to go for a nice dinner, it was all I could do not to go dancing around the kitchen.

I have to say that was one of the best meals of my life.  The food was fantastic from the appetizer to the dessert. 

I have no shame.  I even took a picture of my dessert which my husband just shook his head at.  Flourless chocolate cake-the most decadent thing to ever pass my lips.  It was divine.

It was during dinner that I realized I felt no guilt leaving my kids to eat out with my husband.

No guilt either over the fact I was in a nice restaurant in my maternity jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt covering my baby bump and no makeup.  I was comfortable and that was enough for me.  Maybe it was the mellow atmosphere but I didn't care.  My husband certainly didn't seem to mind how I looked.  I had all of his attention and that made me feel beautiful just the way I was.

I didn't feel guilty for anything.

How it happened I don't know.  Did something change in my mind set?  Not that I could pinpoint except my husband's comment that when #3 comes along these dinners will be even rarer still especially for that first year.

Or maybe my subconscious said screw it and to stop feeling guilty all the time and that this is life (my only one) so I better enjoy it.

The next morning I was still feeling guilt-free. 

Even after being up all night with two screaming kids and only three hours of sleep, I still wasn't guilty.  When I dropped my daughter off at preschool with my new red cap (that matched my red plaid scarf and charcoal pea coat) and my friend commented on my fashionable look, I laughed, thanked her, and smiled all the way to the car. Because yep, my hair was soaked underneath since I had just got out of the shower five minutes before dropping Em off at school.

This guilt-free thing isn't so bad.


Mindy said...

LOVE this post! I totally agree. I think this is so freeing when you allow yourself to just be, to be happy when you find time to get all dolled up, and happy when you let yourself be casual. To enjoy time spent with kids and to treasure time spent away. All of this is part of a happy, joyful life and I am also guilty of letting guilt hijack it!

Shell said...

Yay! I want to clap for your post!

It's so important that we make time for ourselves and for our husbands. Our kids will benefit from parents who love each other. :)

Anonymous said...

w00t! Good for you, let go and embrace the hat!!

Lourie said...

Hang on...I know it's been a while for me...but "baby bump?" "Maternity clothes?" How did I miss this?? Well I guess congrats are in order. And yes, Mommy guilt is a very real thing. Good for you for not dwelling on it.

parenting ad absurdum said...

I so get that. I spend way too much time beating myself up for - well, beating myself up. Ridiculous!! You are awesome, lady!

Flying Giggles and Lollipops said...

It is wonderful that you got past the guilt. I am finally doing the same. And our kids love going to Grandma's house anyway, so it is a win-win situation!

blueviolet said...

There's no reason for you to feel guilty. You deserved every minute of that pampering!

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

I used to say that if I didn't have guilt, I wouldn't have any feelings at all. Reading this made me think about it though. I've been doing pretty well too.

Yay for the guilt-free life! And that dessert looks awesome. I'd have totally taken its picture!

KLZ said...

Oh, to be guilt free. I feel guilty going to work and guilty I'm not more grateful for my job. Rock, me, hardplace.

Ms Bibi said...

I used to feel the same way. It was a vicious circle and then I realized I am just torturing myself.I just try to do the best and who doesn't like it that's their problem.

You deserve being pampered and taking out for romantic dinner....good for hubs.

Liz said...

you are right! we shouldn't fell guilty! not at all! you go enjoy your flourless chocolate every chance you get!

Erin said...

Get rid of the mommy guilt! You deserve your time. And who cares if your hair is wet or dirty? I do the same thing all the time!

p.s. your desert looks delish and I'd have taken a photo of it, too!

Jamee said...

I still deal with this! Most of my "mom guilt" comes from having a chronic illness and having to take time to rest and allow Daddy to take over for an evening. I know that taking care of myself allows me to be a better mom but I still feel guilty about it! Slowly but surely I'm getting better about it!

Stopping by from SITS!

The BabbyMama said...

If there's anything moms shouldn't feel guilty about, it's doing something that they enjoy every now and then. After all, moms are people, too!

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