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mom guilt.

My mom was a stay at home mom.  She was always there whenever we needed her, and in my adolescent brain, that was what a mom was supposed to do.  Dads went to work, and moms cleaned the house, did the laundry, catered to their children's every whim, made dinner... you get it.  Fast forward a decade and you will find Amber Hodges teaching full time and expecting her first baby.

Dewy and I always have had the same goals when it came to finances, albeit different ways of achieving them.  He believes in working, budgeting, and saving.  I believe in winning the lottery.  So when it became evident that I wasn't going to be able to quit my job and stay home when Rhett arrived, I had a really hard time.  I spent hours in the middle of sleepless nights crying on the couch talking to my unborn baby and telling him how sorry I was that I had already failed him.  What kind of mother left someone else to raise her baby? Barbaric, right? My actions and feelings caused Dewy stress and some guilt as well, and was the source of some bickering on occasion.  I couldn't wrap my head around the idea that we weren't immediately fitting into what I considered a familial "norm."  What would my parents think? What would my in-laws think? What would society think of me, a mom in the workforce? SO. MUCH. GUILT! All the feminists out there are tearing their hair out right now.

Rhett came along, and I had the first five months of his life off with him--heaven bless summertime and teaching careers!--but when August rolled around the guilt came slamming right back.  Every morning when I drove to work, I cried.  Every afternoon when I picked him up and he immediately fell asleep because it was nap time, I cried. This went on for about two months.  Also, I have this reputation of being super tough, and not a crier, but I'm realizing that I cry more than I think I do...gross.  As time went on and life went with it, I recognized a lot of our conversation topics revolving around a similar topic.  Everything seemed to revolve around when I quit and stay home with the kids.  Time to buy a house? If we stay in this price range, then in three years I can quit and stay home with my kids.  Time to upgrade a vehicle?  The price is right on this one and then when we pay it off in two years I can quit and stay home with my kids.  Dewy is up for a promotion? This is perfect, because that means the time for me to quit and stay home with the kids is going to come faster than we thought! The years came and went, the purchases came and went, the promotions came--and kept coming-- and I stayed in the classroom.  After some time, I did go part time, and that was when my mindset started to change.

I can remember a day when Larsen was a newborn and I was headed to work.  I sat in my car completely relieved for the three hour break work gave me from the screaming baby and dependent toddler I had at home.  I was so glad to be out of the house.  Then, you guessed it, the guilt came slamming back again.  What kind of mother feels that way about her children? It was the summer after Larsen turned one that I came to an earth shattering realization: I was not made to stay home.  I literally couldn't do it.  That pill was hard to swallow at first.  The norm I had lived so long believing to be the only right way, really wasn't.  I was a better mom BECAUSE I went to work.  I got up and got ready which made me feel better about myself as a human being. I went to work for a couple hours at a job I was really good at and that made me feel important and proud to be contributing to my family's financial goals.  I got home feeling rejuvenated and ready to give my family everything I had for the remaining hours of the day.  Did I feel guilty for having someone else watch my kids? Yes, of course.  But I started to recognize that my situation wasn't negative, and I wasn't a horrible mom for what I was doing.  My kids were loved just as much as the neighbor's kids who had a stay at home mom.  

I think all moms experience guilt.  Guilt for leaving their kids, whether it be for work or
appointments or vacations.  Guilt for not contributing to the family financially because they stay home.  Guilt for not making dinner because they hate to cook.  Mom guilt is so real, and it's a real problem.  Society bombards women with expectations left and right.  Look this way.  Wear these clothes. Believe this norm. Follow this diet.  There is only one right way to mother. Here is what I've decided: BEING A WORKING MOM IS HARD.  I get up early, go to work and deal with garbage, then I have to come home and do all the things a stay at home mom does--laundry, cleaning, cooking, carpool, etc.  You know what else? BEING A STAY AT HOME MOM IS HARD.  You spend all day cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and no one comes in and high fives you and says great job on that ironing today! Keep up the good work! It is often thankless, and demanding.  BEING A HUMAN BEING IN GENERAL IS HARD.  

I know a lot of people--cue hair flip--and I can honestly say I don't know a single human being that has thrown their hands in air and just quit trying completely.  Everyone is doing their best.  Sometimes that means that everyone has on clean underwear.  Sometimes that means that my house is spotless, my kids are fed, grades are caught up, and I've given baked goods to all the neighbors. You win some, you lose some, but regardless you keep pushing on.  Everyone is doing their best, including you.   Also, you're welcome for all the random pictures of my kids.  


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