The peculiar thing about being a mom is that I rarely feel like I’m doing a good enough job. My mom-fails constantly weigh me down. I missed my daughter’s kindergarten performance. My son went to school with no socks on. We bribe our kids with candy regularly.
Mom guilt wrapped its arms around my neck the day my daughter was born and has been enjoying an unwelcome, tightly-gripped piggy back ride for the past six years. I agonized over nursing and felt guilty that I wasn’t producing enough milk. Then came the “cry it out” stage. The guilt for letting her scream in her crib haunted me to my core. The daycare drop-off blues were torturous. My heart stopped beating each morning as I pulled away knowing I wouldn’t see her for hours and would have virtually no control over how her day went.
I consider myself fortunate that I like to work. After having kids I’ve had all kinds of working arrangements. I’ve stayed at home, done contract work, and also worked part-time. I finally discovered I’m happiest working full-time and I feel lucky that I’m among the select few that actually like their job.
Working fulfills that professional side of me. It allows me time away to miss my children and helps me focus and be fully present when I am in kid mode. I find I’m more patient with them after a day at work than when I’ve spent the whole day tending to their needs.
But like many full-time working parents, when I go to bed at night there are still a ton of things on my to do list that have to wait until the next day. I simply cannot get it all done.
One thing I learned to cut out about a year ago was the deep cleaning of our house. We hired a cleaner. At times I feel guilty about this. I remember as a kid, I had loads of chores and one of them was cleaning the bathroom. My mom would come in and inspect my work after I was finished. I learned how to clean a mean toilet.
At times I wonder if I’m doing my kids a disservice by having a professional cleaner. Should I be teaching them how to properly mop floors and scrub bathtubs? Will the privilege of having a cleaner be something they come to expect? Should I be modeling the chores they’ll one day no doubt have to do for themselves? What if they go off to college without learning the basics of cleaning? Isn’t cleaning a life skill I should be teaching them?
I ruminate for a while, but then I come home after a long workday to a clean house and it makes me smile. I’m relieved to smell the fresh lemon scent of clean hardwood floors. It lifts my mood to know I won’t have to spend my weekend vacuuming the stairs and wiping down the shower. Instead, I’ll be able to spend quality time with my children. I think about it that way, and the guilt cleans itself up.