Friday, May 30, 2008

Guilt by Motherhood

I don't know how, or if I will ever come to terms with the difference of parenting between men and women. I am not sure how to adequately describe to my husband how it feels to be the "primary", the one who always must be there for the kids. And if somehow I am not there I spent endless amounts of time arranging, rearranging and organizing so things run smoothly. Then when I am gone I still fret about how he's coping or how the kids are doing. Did I do this, did I do that....God it is painful.

Yes, I have been a single parent, and am lucky enough to share parenting with a very loving committed man. This however, doesn't completely alter the way I feel about the responsibility that is either placed on me by myself or by society in general, in regards to what my job as a mother is.

As I am writing this I am imagining my husband reading, wondering what it is he could do to make me feel less like this. That is the point I guess, I don't even know. All I want is to have the same ability to walk out the door to do what I need to do and not spend hours preparing for my departure, or feeling guilty enough not to go in the first place. I want what is granted to most fathers, comfort in the knowledge that their children are cared for, no matter what. That someone will be there for the doctors appointments, the orthodontist appointments, the early morning trips to school and the late pick-ups. That in the end, they don't really have to put too much thought into how these things happen.

I know, I am bitching even though I am lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom. This was a choice our family made, that worked for us. I am not ignoring the fact that there are plenty of families out there that don't have the chance to have one parent stay home with their children full time. Unfortunately there are still those families, where both parents work, yet it is still, for the most part left up to mom to ensure much of the children's care is organized (Dr.'s, ortho, lessons and such).

Is it the unwritten rule that women bare the larger load of domestic duties? I am certain there are exceptions to this, and there are those families who are able to equally disperse the responsibility of the everyday. Again here, my husband will cringe. I am not suggesting he is not as willing or does not try do as much as he can, it is just very different.

I am also lucky enough to share child rearing with an ex-spouse. This is a challenge on it's own. Resentment skyrockets with ever increasing speed, as the kids get older and require more juggling. Their father tends to become less and less available (depending on how convenient it is at any given moment), or he lives his life and thoughts of what the kids might need becomes secondary. I don't recall anyone asking me if it will work for me to drive (carting three or more children), to school before 8am, in rush hour traffic, with a vomiting toddler.

I know I am their mother, I don't have a moment to forget that, ever. Should I? Well no of course not, but what I want is for the other parent to feel the same pull I feel when it comes to the kids. What I want is a fair shake. What I want, is not to get phone calls two days after the children's father arrives, telling me he just needed a couple of days to do things before he sees them. I can't friggin' imagine being available to see my children, whom live with my ex-wife, and not do everything in my power to be there when I can.

As moms we are all too often made to believe that it is our duty to make sure every bit of care is overlooked by us. That without our go ahead, our family's world would fall apart. I know sometimes what I am driven most by is guilt. Guilt that the kids will somehow miss out, that they won't get what they need if I am not there for everything. Guilt that I should be able to do it all and more, and do it with a smile on my face to boot.

I am not sure I can live up to it all, that I am enough.

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