Mom Guilt

For the first ten years of my life, I was raised by a single mom who worked full time and went to school full time to earn her Masters. She had to miss most of our school functions that took place during the workday but always took us to get 25 cent hamburgers on a Tuesday night to celebrate whatever we had earned at school. She didn’t get to be Room Mom or go on fieldtrips. She would go to our teacher conferences before work. She didn’t get the chance to be a stay-at-home Mom with us, but I always felt taken care of by her and knew she’d be there for the times I really needed her.

I, on the other hand, have gotten to stay home with my kids since they started school because I am declared disabled due to my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. I make my kids lunches (frantically) every morning, I attend their award ceremonies at school, I drop them off and pick them up every day, and I routinely guilt myself over the things I don’t or can’t do for them.

Guilt Lurking Everywhere…

Lately, I have been reminiscing about when my tweenagers were toddlers. I was diagnosed when they were almost 3 and almost a year and a half. I had lost feeling in my left leg and ended up in the emergency room where I was eventually diagnosed with MS later that evening. We made jokes that my son and I were learning to walk at the same time. (He could already walk but walkers make fun jungle gyms for toddlers.)

Often when it’s too warm, I’m lying on the couch scrolling FB or Tic Toc and a video will play. Maybe it’s a video of a mom plating her child’s lunch and I will find myself thinking, “Maybe, if I hadn’t had to work full time when my babies were babies, they would be better eaters now.” Maybe, if I had been able to teach them in the Montessori school method, they would keep their rooms cleaner. Maybe, if I was more focused when they were young and kept them on a strict schedule, they’d be more organized now. Maybe, maybe, maybe…

Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

And The Band Played On. I Didn’t…

My daughter is in marching band. I joined the band PTA in summer before school started. I have donated snacks and water for the band to enjoy after their practices. We committed to the first fundraiser before the school year had started and were able to turn in the money on the second day of school.

This past Saturday, when I dropped my daughter off at practice in a triple digit scorcher (heat and MS don’t mix) I felt guilty for the 2 hours she was there that I didn’t stay to help get their uniforms organized for marching season.

In that heat, I wouldn’t have been any help. Let’s be real. The heat keeps jumping in California from hot to Hotter to OMG PLEASE MAKE IT STOP HOT! My body is in fits. I’m uncomfortable and get heat rashes. I feel exhausted. My cog-fog gets bad. It wouldn’t make since for me to volunteer to help. I would have just slowed us all down. This is my reality. I know this.

It was 104*

Why Do We Beat Ourselves Up…

I’ve been thinking about why I guilt myself when most people would agree I’m a pretty involved mom. Most would say I’m a pretty great mom. So why then, don’t I feel like I am a good-enough mom?

I think part of it is, that I live like I am on borrowed time while living with MS. I want to jam as many memories and moments into my life as possible, if something happens to me, I want my kids to always know that they were my whole world and to have those memories and moments to hang on to, but I often question if I could have, or should have, done more in the moment.

Yes, it’s really hot but maybe we could have baked those cookies. Yes, we did the fundraiser but maybe I should have volunteered with more fundraising ideas because I am good at fundraising. Yes, I could get up early to do band carpool. But I didn’t say yes in those moments, and now I feel like I should have pushed myself harder to say yes, even at the expense of my health/sanity.

I have to think of participating in events in terms of energy cost or physical movement cost. My leg routinely goes on strike with no warning. I can’t be committed to manning the snack bar in three weeks, when for about 8 months of the year, California weather is too hot for me to function in comfortably.

I am also aware that my disease could progress at any moment. It’s been almost 4 years since my last huge flair up and at the back of my mind, I’m wondering when the next might hit, because my history with MS shows my disease modifying therapy works well for about 3-4 years until it suddenly doesn’t. I guess it’s like waiting for the next big earthquake- we haven’t had one in a while; it’s been too quiet. Its best to be as prepared as possible.

And Then It Hit Me…

My kids having me (a disorganized, cluttered, tired AF a lot of the time, always having bunches of small projects going on at once, in varies states of completion, using the wrong words in sentences but almost always able to laugh at myself about it) as their mom, has taught them compassion, resiliency and that they have the play book to handle whatever life throws at them. They know to always cling to the ones that love you, the ones that lift you up and the ones that are there for you during the really freaking hard parts.

Photo Courtesy of National MS Society

I have decided that if they’re not annoyed/mad/sad that I didn’t join a parent committee or bake cupcakes for a fundraiser, then I am not going to feel any differently either. I’m literally trying to do the best I can and do what I am able to do, and that is enough. They’re going to remember when I was there for them in the big moments, that I used every ounce of my energy I had to get there.

Sometimes being the best mom is homemade popcorn and snuggles on the couch. Sometimes, the moments when you’re doing nothing special are the most precious of all.

All of the time, I need to remind myself, I am doing more than enough because I’m doing what I CAN. It doesn’t need to be more than that. There are no Best Mom trophies for the moms that beat themselves up when they’re showing up in the first place.

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