Monday, January 26, 2009

The Mother of All Guilt

Why is it that as Moms, we feel this pressure to compare ourselves to others?

If we aren't judging one another, we're feeling internal guilt about our OWN mothering. Is this an inherent aspect of being a Mom? From what I've gathered from all of my research (okay, talking to other moms over wine and martini's!) it seems we all feel some sense of guilt or remorse about SOMETHING child related.

It's like no matter how great of a mother you think you are-how attentive, how caring, how present-there are other moms out there besting you. And the need to compare ourselves to them and compete rears its' head.

I'm the Mom that tries to go out of my way to make sure everything is "right" for my kids. I'm sure most moms do this. I want them to eat healthy foods, get exercise, try new activities, take chances. I want to expose them to culture, and theatre, and new ways of thinking and doing. I'll forgo my own activities or pursuits if it means accommodating theirs.

I make sure they have Christmas cards for their friends at school, that they bring gifts to their teachers and one for their bus driver. On Halloween, we make little goodie bags for the class. On Valentine's day, we send little cards with a little special treat attached. I make something for the class as a whole.

I work on their homework with them. I help them to work to the maximum of their ability on projects and speeches. We go out of our way to make sure they are completely happy and proud of what they are presenting.

I feel pretty smug about the fact that my kids are able to bring these things and always have a little something prepared. I feel confident as a mother that I do "all that I can."

And happens.

My kids come home with something another child in their class has given to each of them. It's extravagant! Beautiful! Or they come home from a birthday party with some sort of crazy, over the top, loot bag. The party they went to had the WHOLE CLASS invited and TWO cakes and a clown and donkey and a magician and a contortionist and Celine Dion. Or at least it seems like it.

And I feel bested and defeated. I bemoan the fact that I'll never be THAT mom and that my kids are going to need therapy from the lackluster parenting they received.

Why oh why do we feel like what we do is never enough???

Of course, then there is the opposite reaction. The feeling that "well, at least I do more than THAT mom!" You know the mom I mean. The one who never knows what her kids are doing at school, that doesn't ever send anything, that could care less what the kid does at a party or what he/she brings home as long as they are gone for a few hours and out of her hair. And we more zealous moms feel somehow self-righteous that at least we can "beat" that mom. We are at least better than HER.

But maybe, secretly, deep down inside....we'd all like to be a little more like her. A little more devil may care. A little more relaxed. A little less Type A, a little more cool.

Well, maybe just for a moment. Then reality sets in and I realize that my eldest has a speech due and she's doing it on Ireland,and really, who knows best how to help her about THAT topic, than me?? And my youngest has to do her VERY FIRST presentation to her senior kindergarten class and we need to rehearse it several times so it's just right and so that she's not nervous, of course.

It'll never be "enough", I'm sure. But it's going to be "enough for today."

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