I'm not Superwoman: Mommy Guilt, Priorities, and Lessons for my Daughter
As I sit here at my computer, I'm looking around my kitchen and living room at a couch turned into a fort/bridge/tunnel, dishes on the counter, and clean clothes that need to be taken upstairs and put away. I should probably go take care of all that. But I'm the mother of a toddler, and my only breaks during the week occur when she's asleep. Don't get me wrong, I love my daughter, I love being a mom, and I am profoundly grateful to have the opportunity to stay at home with her, watching her learn, grow, and change every day. She is my number one priority. The messes in this room won't last long. I'll take care of them when she wakes up. But I feel like the worst housekeeper in the world. I should clean the house while she's asleep; it won't take as long if she's not underfoot. I should do more laundry. I should break down the six-foot stack of cardboard boxes in the garage and put them in the recycling bin. I should be doing a lot of things, but I'm not.
I'm a writer. It's what I love. During my years as a number crunching analyst, it filled a creative gap in my life. Now, it gives me a sense of purpose outside of being a mom, a goal to work toward, and a break from poopy diapers and household messes. It helps me feel like a productive human being.
How many women feel guilty when we prioritize our work above our other responsibilities? A few weeks ago I read 'Defying Mommy Guilt' by Melissa Foster, an article that helped me realize I shouldn't feel guilty for putting off the chores I think I should be doing in favor of writing. It's not like I'm sitting on the couch watching soap operas and eating bonbons while my daughter puts her finger in an electrical socket or drinks Drano from under the sink. I'm sitting on the couch putting words on a page while she sleeps, working hard to build a career as an author. So what if the couch cushions are in disarray and toys are scattered across the floor? No one is going to see them right now but me, and I can get to them later.
I hope that as my daughter grows up, she sees my priorities for what they are. I will always put her first, but sometimes I'll let the little things slide if it means I am achieving my goals. I want her to understand the value of being self-motivated and having a solid work ethic. I want her to realize the power and satisfaction of practicing a craft, learning, and achieving her own goals. And I want her to know that her mom is a real person, not superwoman, as much as I might try.