Monthly Archives: November 2015

Mommy Guilt

This week while volunteering at Sunday School, the lead teacher Ms. Elizabeth invites me to do the same craft the children do.  She hands me a paper leaf and a marker and asks me to write what I’m thankful for.  

It’s funny how as adults, we don’t ask ourselves what we’re thankful for the way we ask kids.  Instinctively I want to write, “I’m thankful for my family,” or, “I’m thankful for my kids,” but for some reason I don’t.  Instead, I sit and think.  Why not just, “I’m thankful for my husband, Steve”?

Since I’ve been reading Bringing Up Bebe, a book comparing French and American parenting culture, I think a lot about one of the main themes in the book: guilt.  Apparently, French moms don’t harbor guilt about breastfeeding, working outside the home, or prioritizing time alone with their spouse the way American moms do.  According to the author, an American mom feels guilt when she puts her needs before the needs of her child, even if the decision ultimately benefits the child.  

It’s as if the guilt American moms feel to leave the kids out of anything manifests itself to me in this simple leaf project.  I feel bad to write, “I’m thankful for my husband” because I feel bad not mentioning my kids, as if that means I’m not also thankful for them.  We seem to somehow forget (or perhaps feel bad) that before there were kids, there was a relationship.    

After contemplating my leaf for way too long, I finally settle on what to write: “I’m thankful for my best friend,” and I draw a male and female stick figure with some girly hearts.  

Sharing The “Me” My Kids Don’t Know

Steve and I at the Marine Corps Ball, 2007

Steve and I at the Marine Corps Ball, 2007

This Veteran’s Day, something unsettling dawned on me: my kids will never know me as a military service member.    

Both Steve and I served in the Marine Corps. It has shaped who we are as individuals and as a couple.  But we’ve been out a few years now.  The kids were little babies when we closed that chapter, and they won’t remember any of it.  

Sometimes I feel bad about this.  That there’s this part of me that my kids will never experience or understand.  I suspect it’s this way with all of us.  Our parents were different people before we came along, too.  

This week, Steve and I gave a Veteran’s Day presentation for all the Kindergarteners at NB’s school.  We kept it simple. We covered the basics about who veterans are and even had some helpers demonstrate how to salute.     

I guess even though our kids won’t know us before we were “mom” and “dad” we can still deeply connect with them.  We can tell them about who we are by telling them about who we were.  

The Veteran’s Day presentation gave me a chance to share with NB something about the military, and something special about his mom and dad.      

Getting Involved, Even When The Kids Get in the Way

I hate when a meeting pops up for something I want to do but I don’t have childcare. This happened to me a few weeks ago; the meeting was after school which meant I would have both NB and Penny during the meeting.  Their number one pastime is to annoy one another and, consequently, annoy me, so this normally ends badly.

I decided to go to the meeting anyway.  I wanted to be part of this thing which meant I had to go to the meeting.  And anyway if I swore off every situation my kids might embarrass me in I would never go to restaurants, for example (oh wait, I don’t).  In any case, this was not an eight-hour flight to Europe. I can handle this.

When we entered the classroom, no one else was in the same situation I was in so NB and Penny were the only kids.  The classroom was very quiet without so much as a far corner to install them. I considered leaving, right then and there.

Then things started looking up.  This was NB’s art class.  He felt right at home and grabbed a bucket of colored pencils and some paper.  He and Penny colored quietly at a nearby table while we grown-ups got started on our talk.  So far, so good!

About 15 minutes later, I heard some whining.

And some crinkling of paper.

And some grunting.

And a gasp from the lady next to me.

And a thump.

Never will I bring BOTH kids anywhere they are expected to shut up and color, I thought.  I watched dumfounded as NB wrestled Penny to the floor.  I decided it was time to go and politely excused my family from the meeting.

A day or two later, I started receiving emails and getting plugged into the project related to the meeting.  It turns out that none of it mattered. I had survived the temporary embarrassment and nobody really cared how my kids acted anyway.

So here are my two cents for this silly event in my life: Just. show. up. Do the best you can, and things will probably work out fine.