Tonight in Target, while I was running around with two kids in tow looking for a wrapping solution for a wedding present, I yelled at my kids. Repeatedly. Loud enough for other customers to hear (and most certainly negatively judge me). I especially yelled at my son. He was goofing off a little, just doing what seven-year-old boys do, and I yelled at him quite a few times. I became increasingly frustrated with his inattention to our task at hand, and my patience was non-existent. And so, as I set off in search of a box or basket that would suffice as wrapping, I became more agitated. And I yelled at my kids.
Sitting here now a few hours later, looking back on this evening’s Target events, I am ashamed and saddened at my actions. My kids weren’t really being bad, they weren’t really doing anything in particular to warrant my rage and elevated vocal reprimands. They were just being kids– kids who were tired from a long day of school and shopping, and who were also bored going up and down the aisles of Target with their mother. In the short time that we were inside the store, I had no patience with them, no understanding of the way each of them were feeling, and I see now that I was way too hard on my littles.
The mom guilt
So not only am I sitting here now ashamed at how I acted and wanting to go in each of their rooms to wake them and apologize for yelling, but I am also wrestling with the mom guilt that is settling in my chest. This mom guilt has been rearing its ugly head quite often lately in my life, and it has been making itself very much at home in the dark caverns of my soul. I try to banish it away, to remove it from my thoughts and feelings, but it always finds a way to creep back in and drive me deeper into guilt-ridden despair.
Right now I am feeling guilty for yelling at my children, but also feeling guilty because I was only with them a short time today, a few hours after school and for a quick dinner and shopping trip, and I virtually ruined that time with my agitated behavior. After Target, I left them with their father while I went to work at my second job.
I feel guilty for leaving them with mommy’s rage fresh in their little minds.
I feel guilty for leaving them to go to work at all.
Oh, how I long to spend more time with them, and to make that time actually count! I want to have positive interactions with them while they are young so that they don’t remember a mother full of anger that caused them to walk on eggshells much of their childhood. Besides feeling guilty for the yelling, and having to work and be away from them, my mind spirals further into darkness and I feel guilt for exposing them to my irritability and lack of patience, both a direct result of my battle with depression. They are just babies! They shouldn’t have to try to understand why mommy is angry, why mommy cries and sleeps too much, and why some days she won’t get out of bed to play with them. But unfortunately, they do, and I’m sure they are sometimes very confused.
I’m not going to turn this around at the end of this article and say how I am constructively dealing with my mom guilt. Nor am I going to tell you that the guilt is something that is actually influencing my life in a positive way. Some articles tell a sad story, and then they wrap up with how this sad story has changed the individual for the better. (I know because I’ve written these posts.)
This is not that.
I’m at a point in my journey with the mom guilt that I can only suffer more and more from it on a daily basis, and I haven’t yet been able to figure out how to escape the hole it is leaving in my soul. Maybe I’m writing this to just express my feelings and to let it all out on paper. Perhaps I am penning these words in hopes that the right person will read it and will be able to leave some words of wisdom for me to actually fight against the mom guilt and not feel like such a terrible mother.
Regardless of why I’m sharing, I think it is very important for the ones reading this and going through the same thing to know that they aren’t alone. Mom guilt is so incredibly real, and all of us experiencing it know the pain it is causing in our lives. We know the struggle, the immense heartache, and the tears that we have shed because of it.
And so to the mom feeling guilty, the mom experiencing shame and negative thoughts about her performance as a mother– I’m right there with you sister. And I promise that when I find an answer, when I find a positive way to channel the guilt out of my soul and far away from my mind, I’ll be back here to share it with you so that we all may be free of its suffocating grip. But for now, find comfort in the fact that you are not alone in this struggle, and that somehow we will navigate through this tribulation and come out on the other side.