I think it must happen the moment we have children. It consumes us and has us second-guessing almost every decision we make. It is the main ingredient behind many of our self-doubts. It provides a healthy dose of “ouch” into many of life’s events. Yes, I’m talking about mom guilt. We all know it. We’re not fans, but we don’t fight it. It only has to make it’s presence known a few times before we realize it’s not going anywhere and we’ll most likely cross paths again soon. Put your arm around it and buy it a drink. You’re in it for the long haul.
But what about that other guilt? It’s the guilt which gets sprinkled on top of the mom guilt. You’re so consumed by the mom guilt, you may not even see it. I’ll give you a hint. It has to do with your success at neglecting the other person in the room. And no, it’s not yourself (9 times out of 10 it is, but that’s not who I’m talking about). Take another guess? If you can’t think of anyone else, then you’re proving my point exactly. Answer: wife guilt.
Easy moms, this isn’t the part where I tell you to do something special for your man, because he’s been neglected. I’m not trying to add another to-do to your plate (literally). You have a lot going on and there’s is no scoreboard here. I’m just wondering if you’ve noticed it. That feeling? I’m pretty sure it’s right before you go down the rabbit hole of feeling like you’re not doing anything right.
This week was the first time in three and a half years, that my husband and I have been home alone, without our children. They are “at camp” with my in-laws (and having a blast, I might add). So why am I so sad? Because I feel guilty for wanting some quiet time? Yes. Because I feel guilty that I’m feeling guilty and this second dimension of guilt is causing me to not completely enjoy the time with my husband? Absolutely.
I went to bed sad the first night. The house is quiet and the last time it was this quiet, was when my son passed away. It brought me back to the feelings I had then. Why would I voluntarily elect to feel this all over again? I wasn’t really sure what to do about this. So I opted for watching Dr. Phil. I know, I’m equally disappointed in myself – and slightly embarrassed, but this is me, hiding behind the internet anonymity. This choice of television programming probably just added to the sadness…or contributed to it.
I put myself to bed early that first night. Maybe all I needed was a good night’s sleep. My husband crawled into bed to check on me. He knew I was having a tough time. Ugh, this sweetened my frosting of wife guilt, piled on top of my mom guilt cupcake.
Here I was, focused on sadness, thinking about my kids. Why couldn’t I just enjoy the fleeting alone time with my husband? This is shaping up to be an awesome game of self sabotage.
The first night was rough, but it’s gotten better. By better, I mean, I’m starting to warm up to this idea of a quiet house. The kids will be back soon and I know the first time I cross paths with a short fuse (and mom guilt), I’ll be kicking myself for not enjoying the much needed adult time. Here are some ideas for embracing the time away from the kiddos and focusing on your adult relationships:
- Pick a show to binge watch – yes, you will be able to watch an adult show, with cuss words, before 9pm
- Ice cream – this can be enjoyed in bed, for dinner, or while binge watching a new show (preferably not Dr. Phil)
- Go out to dinner – two words: GET OUT. If the house is too quiet, don’t stay there.
- Oh and contrary to popular belief, it’s okay to talk about the kids. Just think of it like eating donuts. Always okay in moderation.
With all of life’s distractions these days, it’s very easy to lose sight of living in the present. Or even using it as an excuse to avoid living in the moment. Before you were a mom, you were just you. You were sexy, fun and didn’t carry diaper wipes in every bag you own. And somebody else thought these same wonderful things about you. So take time for your adult relationships. Even if it’s not-so-strategically placed between bouts of mommy guilt.