I sit here today not as someone who shames others but as someone who struggles often with shaming myself. I am a mother, a writer, an entrepreneur, a full time employee, a fitness instructor, a photographer… I, like all of you, wear so many hats that there are days, like today, in which I feel like my head is not strong enough to hold it all.
I am adamant that being a mother is the hardest thing to do, it is a constant in life and could mean a number of things at any given moment. As a mother who was single for a long time, who was solely responsible for the financial well being of myself and another providing income, food, a home, clothing and all of those every day things fell on my shoulders. Even though now I am no longer alone, I still feel a NEED to provide financially in any and all ways humanly possible.
So I wake up in the morning and get everyone ready, drop my son off at his before school program because I have to work too early to bring him right to school and then drop my daughter off at my Aunt’s house (an Aunt who saves my life every day because what she does for me day in and day out is beyond incredible) and then drive myself downtown to park in a garage that I am never early enough to get a spot below the 5th floor in. To run the three minutes it takes to get from the garage to the front door of my building so that I am not later than 10 minutes (my internal cut off for ACTUALLY being late) and then rummage through my work bag to find my keys that I can never manage to find without pulling out my breakfast, lunch, snacks, drinks, half my life you know, just everything!
And when my work day ends I drive back to pick up those sweet kiddos who just want to spend time with me. But…I have to drive us home, make dinner, clean up, do baths, pick out clothes for the next day, read books, go through ALL the papers in the homework folder, empty out the boy’s lunch box that he managed to get teeny crumbs all up in, deal with multiple meltdowns (mine and the kids) and the list goes on for what seems like an eternity.
And at the end of the day when my son asks for 2 more minutes to lay with him, I lay with him and not because I have nothing else to do but because I feel like that 2 minutes with him is what matters to him and to myself. And when my daughter won’t sit with her Dad to drink her night time bottle, will only sit with me, I sit with her in the rocking chair and not because the house doesn’t need to be cleaned or laundry put away but because that rock in her favorite chair is what calms her after an always busy day, it calms me too.
Most days my guilt and shame for leaving them so often is something I can deal with.
Today was different.
Today I had to drop my son off (with that same fabulous Aunt I mentioned above) because he couldn’t go to school since just last night at an Urgent Care a few towns over he tested positive for Strep Throat. I wanted so badly to stay home with him, for him. To be the person that he cuddled with and loved on all day but I just couldn’t.
As if I could NOT have felt worse as I was trying to get his medicine into the fridge my daughter threw up all over the floor and I was already late. So what did I do…I had to leave. Had to leave her with throw up on her mouth, had to leave puke on the floor that her favorite ball had rolled in to, I wanted to hold her but I just couldn’t.
Today was different. It has taken me all day to write this without bursting into full blown tears but this was important. We ALL feel guilty for something but you know what, tomorrow is a new day and not a new day to feel guilty but a new day to look at ourselves and see what we are doing right in the world. Will my kids miss me sometimes, of course. Will I miss them, every SECOND of every day but my choices, and all of our choices teach them a lesson. And that is something NO ONE should be ashamed of.
Today was a moment for me and I sit here and wonder in five years when I ask my kids what moments stick out to them, will this even register to them? My guess is no, my guess is that this shame is all on me, my guess is that what they remember will be the moment I came home not the moment I left.