Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mommy jealousy and mommy guilt.

I think all of us experience it at one time or another. Humans are, I believe, rather competitive by nature; we judge our accomplishments according to what our peers have also achieved. As mothers, we often compare the development of our children to those of our friends or family members. Further, we sometimes view our children’s accomplishments as some kind of barometer by which to measure our own success as mothers.

I’ll give you an example. At 13 months, Lucy frequently babbles, hums, and even sings. However, her words are limited to mama, dada, baba, and yeah. Further, even though we’ve worked extensively with her on signing for 6 months now, Lucy only uses a handful of signs, and still somewhat irregularly.

The daughter of a friend is only a little older than the Goose, but is incredibly verbal. Not only does she speak many words, but she speaks them clearly. Additionally, she can sign. Overall she has an incredible grasp of language for a child of her age.

Am I jealous? TOTALLY!

I know I shouldn’t be. I know it’s ridiculous. But I feel the same way when I hear about a child who sleeps through the night, or practically runs through the house, or has hit any number of milestones Lucy hasn’t yet. I know it’s not fair to compare Lucy to other children. I should be satisfied that she is healthy and happy and developing well-within the spectrum of “normal”- who determines what is normal, by the way?

Also, because I work outside of the home, my “mommy guilt” is intense. I’ll bare my soul here: I often wonder if Lucy would be developing differently if I were a stay-at-home mom. Would she be signing more by now? Could she speak more clearly? I feel a great deal of guilt for not being able to spend more time with her during the week.

Please don’t get me wrong- Brett is a fabulous father and does an amazing job with Lucy during the day. He takes her on little trips to the library and the pool, builds pillow forts in the yard, bakes cookies….. I’m immeasurably grateful that not only have we avoided putting Lucy in daycare, but that she gets to spend every day with her Daddy.

I do my best to make the time I get to spend with Lucy quality time, mainly through attachment parenting techniques like extended breastfeeding, babywearing, and, until recently, bedsharing. Still, the daily separation from my daughter is difficult. The guilt that I feel from having to work every day (and yes, for the record, I HAVE to work- my military service commitment wasn’t up yet when Lucy was born) makes it hard for me to justify spending time away from her at all when I’m not working. For heaven’s sake, I felt terrible for *one time* leaving her at home with Brett instead of taking her grocery shopping with me on a Saturday morning. I have a gift certificate for a massage sitting on my office desk that’s been there since Mother’s Day- how could I possibly justify spending one of the two mornings I have off during the week at the spa?

I can’t help but look forward to the day when I’ll get the chance to stay home with Lucy and her little brother or sister. I can’t wait until I can guiltlessly take some time for myself because I “earned” it, having taken care of the kids all week. I’m anxious for when I can take them to the library, go on play dates, etc- at which point Lucy will probably be old enough to say, “Why can’t Daddy stay home with me?”



Kacie said...

Yeah, I get ya. I was mostly frustrated whenever I heard of a young baby sleeping all night. It took Johnny 15 or 16 months to figure that one out. Yowza!

I'm starting to get the, "Is he potty-trained yet?" questions. He is not. He is not even close.

And I have to just chill out and remember that seriously every kid develops at a different pace and yay for other kids who pee on the potty at a young age. But what other people do is NOT reflective of how I am as a parent.

You are doing a great job with your kiddos!

Ida Mae said...

I am a stay a home mom and I still feel the guilt(I haven't even had my hair done).. so trust me Momma you are doing the best you can. :) Lucy is thriving and wonderful! Just look at her!

Jenny said...

Having two, I can't help but try to remember if Suzi wasn't talking more by the time she was the age Ivey is now. I catch myself thinking maybe it's my fault Ivey is a little behind, and then I think, no, not behind, DIFFERENT. Ivey started walking, climbing, etc at an earlier age than Suzi, and she might take a little longer to talk. It's no big deal. They will both have their strengths and weaknesses and will grow up to be two totally different people.

I think you and Brett are doing a great job. It's wonderful that she has this time to spend with her dad. So few children get that. Lucy is definitely loved and cared for while you're at work and it's obvious you make the time you ARE home with her count. I think that's the most important thing--much more important than how many signs she can do. Heck, Ivey doesn't know any at all and I think Suzi knew one. Just because a mom stays home doesn't mean she is on top of all that. You are an awesome mom and I bet when you do have the opportunity to stay home you'll love it!

Ed and Elizabeth said...

Emily you are an awesome mom. We all have the Mommy Guilt. Someone has to work whether it's the mom, the dad, or both. Lucy is happy and as long as you take the time you DO have with her and make it QUALITY time...everything will be just fine! :) Life is about balance. You need Lucy time, Brett time, family time, and alone time for yourself. Somehow we all make it work! Stop beating yourself up! :)

Ashley said...

Ok, so I know it's the hormones, but I'm totally sitting here crying into my container of leftover meatballs. The last line of this entry totally got me and I realize that what you guys are doing right now is what I'll be doing for the next several years, if not more (at least that's the plan for now)!! I can't help but realize that I will probably be singing this same song in 9-ish months when I have to go back to work once the sea monkey is here.

I kept thinking to myself while reading your entry that I just can't believe you feel that way! You are an AMAZING momma and I can only hope to be 10% as involved and awesome as you are!