I’m going on a guilt trip – care to join me?

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I had a cup of tea with another mum yesterday before school pick-up. She confessed to feeling guilty about going to a yoga class.

Because stay-at-home mothers should always be doing selfless, stay-at-home mother stuff like cleaning the house or prepping dinner or devising mind-enriching activities for their children. Not engaging in something frivolous like an exercise class.

Meanwhile, I sat opposite her with wet hair because I felt guilty about how long it takes to colour my hair, so I skipped out of the salon without my scalp massage or blow-dry.

What is it with mothers? Why is it we feel that everyone else deserves to be indulged except us?

When I go shopping, I’m always hesitant to buy something for myself, but the weight of indecision instantly lifts if it’s something for the kids.

I tell my husband not to waste money on a birthday gift for me. And I mean it, it’s not a trick.

The thought of spending a day at a spa feels wicked and wrong.

If I decide to have a drink with a friend after work instead of going home to read to my kids in bed, I feel like I’ve skipped out on my responsibilities.

Granted, I just spent 11 days child-free attending a wedding overseas. So I’m no martyr. But the months before and weeks after have been spent apologising to anyone who’ll listen for my poor parenting, making excuses about what a great time the kids had with their cousins, explaining we couldn’t afford to take them, assuring all and sundry that I’ll never do it again.

“Me” time is in pretty short supply since I went back to work. I get up at 5.30am and sneak in a walk before the youngest wakes up. I work until the last second before jumping on a bus to pick the kids up from school. I then ferry them to swimming lessons, skipping lessons, art class. I cook dinner. I make school lunches. I clean up the kitchen.

Occasionally I watch a little TV after reading to my little one. Usually I’m so tired that I’m in bed by 9.30pm.

And yet I worry that I’m not doing enough for my family. I blanch at the idea of going to the movies on a Sunday night with a friend because it infringes on family time.

I don’t think fathers and husbands think like that.

Do they?

Motherguilt is a bitch. And it reels me back in every time.

How about you? Do you find it hard to indulge yourself?

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10 thoughts on “I’m going on a guilt trip – care to join me?

  1. Alana – I think fathers and husbands also feel the guilt. It’s just that society has this crooked setup that seems to place the guilt on the fathers and husbands earning money and paying for things and feeling very bad if they aren’t the key bread winner. So the fathers and husbands maybe feel less guilt about child care and housework so long as they are delivering on the bread winning.

  2. I know what you mean. It’s hard to throw off the guilt and indulge (although I’m trying). Men don’t seem to have that ingrained conditioning and automatic guilt reflex that we do. And our children’s neediness (and our guilt) seems to go on for ever! As a teacher I am usually around after school but just yesterday I was having coffee with a friend and my teenage daughter came home to an empty house. She rang me demanding – in an indignant and accusatory tone – “Where ARE you?” Was tempted to retort, “Err..having fun…having me time,” but instead just said, “I won’t be long, darling.” 🙂

  3. I know this is a little late in the reply stakes!

    I feel this too. But I wanted to share my sisters perspective. She feels its important for your kids to see you as a person who looks after themselves. Her husbands mother never had a life except for the kids and he still struggles to see her as a person except in relationship to kids and family. She is a stay at home mum but has regular weekends away and nights out.

    I think if you don’t show kids how to look after yourself (emotionally) then they don’t learn it. I am still uncomfortable having weekends away or trips to the shops by myself but I am realising it enriches their lives by learning to be more self-sufficient and not see my as their only conduit to being happy.

  4. My daughter is on the ultimate guilt trip. She forgot Annabelle’s preschool Mothers Day morning tea today. Apparently Miss Four was inconsolable and thought she was in trouble and that’s why her Mummy was a no-show. In reality, it was a combination of the stresses of a newborn, crushing fatigue and the fact that my daughter hasn’t been well since the birth. I don’t know who is the more upset – mother or daughter. My daughter is heartbroken at forgetting.

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