I find that mothering inherently holds a lot of huge emotions: love, joy, fear, euphoria, exhaustion, and guilt. Guilt is the one I struggle with a lot these days. I’m working on not letting the feelings of guilt get me down, but it seems that of all the big emotions, the “G” word is the most tenacious in its bite. As a mother who is also homeschooling her only child, I think that guilt is multiplied by about a million and trying to crawl out from under it is unbearably hard sometimes. Some days I want nothing more than to crawl under the covers and hide until the big, ugly, three headed beast that is guilt decides I’m not around and gives up.
So what is there to feel guilty about as a homeschooling mother? After all, I don’t have the guilt of forcing my kid to go to a school he doesn’t like to sit at a desk for hours on end and to deal with kids and teachers who just don’t get him. I don’t have the guilt of seeing him do his homework with his eyes red and bleary from exhaustion, and I don’t have the guilt of worrying that I’m not packing him a decent lunch. No, I don’t carry that set of guilt, and I’m so grateful for that, but my life is far from lilacs and ice cream.
For starters, I can’t shake the feeling that we are cash-strapped because I’m staying home and not working full time. I can’t help but feel that if I had gone back to work and put BB in preschool when he was still a babe, then he’d have gone on to kindergarten and then to first grade and I’d be working, pulling in enough money to be able to afford piano lessons or a trip to the Grand Canyon. I feel like if I were working, we’d have enough money to actually have health insurance and to be able to go to the dentist a couple of times a year. It is so easy to believe that if I had made a different decision, our life would be infinitely easier and we’d have more freedom to do and buy things.
And then there’s the guilt of loneliness. BB doesn’t have any siblings, so I can never say to him, “Hey, mom needs a break, so go play with your brother”. I set up regular play dates and outings for him, and he gets a lot of interaction from other kids, but I can’t help feeling that if I say no to playing with him, that he’s disappointed in me. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want another kiddo, and I am very happy to have a family of three. BB says he doesn’t want a brother or sister anyway “because all they do is break your Lego structures or yell at you”, but I worry that when he grows up he’ll feel resentful over the life we didn’t give him.
I do know that if I had made the decision to work and not homeschool, I’d be dealing with an entirely different set of guilty feelings. I know that there is no magic spell or cure to end guilt as associated with motherhood. It’s just that sometimes what I feel seems more real than what another person may be feeling. Especially if that other person is a made up mother who has it all together and can juggle high powered career, cooking, husband and kids, all the while being playful and able to provide jumpy castles for birthdays. I’m really good at imagining her glamorous life, but not at imagining the consequences of her decisions.
This is turning into quite the whiny post, and that’s not at all what I wanted to do here today. I guess I’m not really sure what it is that I did intend. Maybe I just wanted to get some of this stuff out of my head so that I can go shower, play with BB, and maybe do some science experiments later.
All guilt aside, I do like my life. I love that I am homeschooling and that I can hang in my pjs till 10:00 or even 2:00 if I want. I love that we don’t rely on McD’s to get us through dinner, and that we can go to the museums and zoo in the middle of the day, when there aren’t any crowds. I love that my child can tell me anything and that he says I’m his favorite person in the world. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed, over extended and exhausted, but in the end, I would not go back to work and give up this life for a hundred trips to Disney World or the Grand Canyon.