Independence, Mom Guilt, and How To Deal
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I used to think that mom guilt would go away as my kids got older. I used to think that as my kids became more able and independent, the things for me to feel guilty about would lessen.
Y’all? So. Not. True. Let me tell you about one of my more recent and unexpected explosions of mom guilt, when the worry was swimming around my head and threatening to drown my brain.
Girl, you might want to pull up a chair. Here goes.
A couple years ago, I was finally okay with calling myself a work at home mom. By finally claiming that “work at home” title, and the reorganization of priorities and time that came with it, there were also some changes for everyone else in the household.
My biggest fear in that whole change up? That my kids and their sudden amazing independence was because I pushed them away too soon so I could have more time to do my stuff.
I mean, I didn’t stay home to work from home, I stayed home to homeschool.
You guys, there is so much ouch in that sentence. And I’m writing this all down because I know someone else has felt all of this so I want you know you’re not crazy.
Well, okay, you might be crazy. I mean, I am. But you know what I mean.
Independence is great. My kids are very independent. And it’s awesome when your homeschoolers reach the point of independence. But it’s almost as if when that independence actually helps me out with something that’s all about me….gawd. The guilt. The crushing weight of mom guilt.
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I mean, do you feel me? Or am in an ocean of homeschool mom insanity all by myself? Because my fear is that my kids are going to someday end up on the psychiatrist’s couch saying (with copious amounts of sarcasm and air quotes): Yeah. My mom “homeschooled” me but I really think it was just a ploy for her to be able to spend more time on her “writing career”.
You guys. My overactive mama brain.
So how did I deal with it?
Dealing with mom guilt: I talked with my kids.
I could see that things were changing in our house. My kids were diving more into their interests, and I was busier with things I was trying to get going. So we started a conversation, and it went almost exactly like this:
Me: So, you spend a lot of time with your computers and playing guitar and all your interests, right? And that’s cool, right?
Me: And…like I’m getting way more into my writing and business stuff so I feel like I spend a ton of time on the computer. Like…not with you. I mean…is that okay?
Me: I mean, because I just want us to be okay. Are we okay?
Them: (teenager type stares of why is my mom so weird) Yeah. Mom. It’s totally fine. If we need you, we know where to find you.
It seems like I have their blessing. So I should stop with the mom guilt, right?
Dealing with mom guilt: I thought back to myself at this age.
I was not homeschooled but I did have pretty awesomely free summers. And I’m also old enough to remember a time there wasn’t 47 hours of homework every night. I thought back to when I was the age my kids are now, and you know what I realized?
At no point was I thinking, gosh, I wish my mom would hang out with me more.
Now that is nothing against my mom. I enjoyed the company of my mom (and dad) and was raised in an awesomely epic home. I was free to hang out in the woods or listen to my music or read or write or whatever and if I wanted my mom, I knew she was in the house. If I wanted to go hang out with my mom, I went and found her. I never once thought, gosh, I wonder what is so important that my mom can’t sit right next to me right now.
(It only just occurs to me to wonder if my mom was in the house, overridden with mom guilt about not hanging out.)
Dealing with mom guilt: I talked to other homeschool graduates.
I’ve been told by several homeschool graduates that they really wish their mom would have taken more time for herself.
Hold up. Did you read that?
They wished their mom would have taken more time for themselves.
They could see the mama stress. They could feel her desire to do other things. And they wanted their moms to know it would have been okay to do those things.
Sometimes, we need to remember what it looks like from our kids’ perspective. It’s important to consider how our stress and guilt affects the relationships within a homeschool. What do our kids see when we are overwhelmed with guilt and worry? And is that going to perpetuate a cycle of guilt and worry in them?
Bad news, mamas.
As moms, we worry. Is there any set-up or situation we would find ourselves in that we wouldn’t eventually figure out a way to feel guilt or worry?
Nope, I don’t think there is.
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Why can’t we look at the independence our kids are showing in a positive way? Why can’t we say, “Wow! Great! Now I’ve got free time to spend on my stuff!” Why do mamas have to take every potentially awesome change and turn it into fodder for mom guilt, or some big new worry that we’re doing something else wrong?
I mean…do Dads do this?
(Wait. Don’t answer that…)
I don’t think mom guilt ever goes away. I think it’s part of what makes up a mom. But I also think that we can learn to work through it by talking with our kids, talking with other moms, talking with our husband, and getting some perspective.
I think it is important to talk about the mom guilt mess so we don’t feel weird and crazy for the stuff we feel. I mean, it can be illogical to feel the things we feel…but those feelings can also be universal and common and normal in the mom world.
So let’s get them out in the open, m’kay?
Question: When does the mom guilt and worry set in for you as a homeschool mom? What things are you feeling guilty for or worrying about right now?