Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mom Guilt or Your Judgement.

Mom guilt.

Something all mother's have.

A present given to us in the delivery room along with our bundle of joy.

I have found that my level of mom guilt has increased over time....and since Brian's passing.

As a single....or perhaps a better description is "an only parent"....I have found taking time for myself as a incredibly valuable component of being a better parent. This is not a new concept. Brian clearly understood this concept and encouraged me to head out on my own for the day or a few hours every now and again. As I encouraged him to do the same with weekly golf outings with his friends. Just because we get married and become parents does not mean we give ourselves up 100%.

cancer was so kind to cause me to become the sole breadwinner and only caregiver for three children. Two teenage boys don't really understand the idea that there is more to this world than the foot circumference around themselves....and they are apparently are the only ones this family revolves around.

My world is is everyones. And it takes a toll on my health and emotional well being.

So, in order to keep sane, I run. And I run races. And I try to find a few races and LIVESTRONG events throughout the year that allow me to reunite with friends. And yes, I go on these weekends quite often without my children.

And no, I don't feel guilty about it.

And, my children understand. Often times they have activities that conflict and they make the choice not to join me. And other times they are looking forward to a vacation from their stressed out mom. Other times they look forward to a vacation from each other and spend time with friends....they are siblings after all.

So my children don't make me feel guilty either.

So why the mom guilt? Well this comes along with the questions asked of me. Questions like "what are doing with your kids!?!?" or " you mean you are going without your kids!?!?!"

Do you ask your divorced friends this when they go on weekends away on their every other weekend free? Does anyone ever question single parents due to divorce why they feel they completely have no parenting responsibilities when the kids are at the exes? Nope. I bet you don't.

Does anyone ask those same questions of a married couple when they take a guy or girls weekend. Nope....I suppose not. And no one ever asked these of me when Brian was alive.

I can tell the difference between those close to me that have watched the kids when I'm gone just being curious and supporting my decisions from those that find my choices questionable.

Public service announcement.....until you have walked in my shoes, do not cast judgement just as I do not cast judgment on your decisions. It actually makes me feel terrible.

Just had to get that off my chest. It's been gnawing at me for a month now.


  1. Insert applause here! And it's not only you that gets it. I had people question my devotion to my children when I traveled for business, and were shocked when I would take a weekend to meet up with friends a few hours away. I may live miles from you, but the fact that you are a great Mom is evident to me! Hope your chest feels lighter now!

    1. Thanks for your note Jeanne. Crazy how people feel the need to voice their judgement. I suspect they don't realize how it impacts the other party! My kids get excited when I go's a vacation for them too! Plus, that means grandparent rules!!

  2. Hi Barb,
    I love your blog. I totally understand what you're saying. This has happened to me numerous times. People have questioned me when I've taken a weekend to fly to Maine to visit my friends. They've said "Who's going to watch your kids?" or "You're leaving the kids with Adam?" Meanwhile, Adam is probably one of the most capable dads I know! I've been questioned when Adam and I went together to Haiti. What I've noticed though is when Adam goes away, no one questions it. I think people in general expect men to go away for boys weekends or golfing etc, but it's not as acceptable for the mother to get away. Adam and I encourage each other to get away and go do things for ourselves. It makes us better parents and in the end the kids will be better for it. So will your kids! Don't listen to people who's not their business! You are a terrific parent. Love ya! Kim

    1. Kim - I knew that Adam was a keeper!! Good for both of obviously has made your marriage all that stronger. The double standards drive me crazy. And don't you worry....putting myself and my kids first will never be spared for other peoples judgement of me. Hugs to you and Adam....and keep up the wonderful work!

  3. Yeah, Barb! Sometimes I have to remind myself that other people's opinions are not my business. I was once at a 40th birthday party for a friend and some woman I had never met questioned that I was not at home with my kids and wife. I said "well, my daughter is 20 months old and this will be the first time I've not been there to put her to bed. I think she will make it just fine." Then walked away.

    You do what you do and what you need to do. Assuming that you don't just leave the three kids with a big bowl of food and another of water like you would a cat, I wouldn't worry about other nosy people.

    1. Thanks so much for the note! And what a great idea....perhaps a few boxes of cherries and a gallon of milk would do.....kidding of course! glad to know I am not the only one that finds these comments ridiculous

  4. "Does anyone ask those questions of a married couple when they take a guys or girls weekend....nope, I suppose not."

    Yes, yes they do. Mom guilt or your judgement ^insert or your friend's self pity/insecurities?

    You know where I find the dictionary between shit and syphilis. You also know why that is the only place I look.

    You need frequent breaks, take them...without guilt. Don't suppose to know how much time anyone else does or does not get just because they have a living spouse. Just as they are not walking in your shoes, you are not walking in theirs. Believe me their shoes may look very different from yours and your widow status does not trump the fact that we ALL need breaks and not ALL of us get them.

    Please don't make me feel guilty for having a two parent family. Tread lightly.

    1. Kristin - So sorry if I offended anyone. Not the point I was making. I try to be extremely understanding of everyone's situations. I certainly took breaks when I was married as well - and understand the need for everyone to have time alone. However, it is the tone and frequency in which people sometimes ask that question.

      I am not looking for sympathy. I was just sharing how I feel to make others aware that we should all be mindful that everyone's situation is not the same as our own.

      Please do not ever confuse my posts as looking for sympathy. I dread sympathy and have NEVER in my life used sympathy to gain favor. I am a strong supporter of you can't change the hand dealt to you - and I think I have demonstrated that my entire life.

      I apologize if I offended anyone but again, this was just an opportunity for me to share how peoples comments make ME feel sine I have NO idea how they make anyone else feel.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. What offended me was your statement (I quoted) about supposing married couples aren't asked the same questions or made to feel the same amount of guilt. That is not an accurate or fair assumption. My point is this ~ Your statments about married/divorced/2 parent families and supposing they are more or less excused from accountability & guilt is false. Married~divorced parents are subject to the same guilt. It's not just you.

      As long as your conscience approves that is all that matters. The tone of your post suggests you are lumping yourself in a population of parents (widows/widowers) that are judged unfairly (probably so)and you suppose married/divorced people are not. That is where I take offense.

      Apology accepted.

  5. Hi Barb,
    I have just read some of your blogs. I am writing to you because on this day 19 years brother was killed. He died. Part of me died that day, too. I often wish he had children or someone left behind that I could touch or talk to and somehow be reminded that he were here again, talking to me. I miss him. I am thankful for the memories left behind and am thankful for opportunities to talk about him or honor his life. I can't dwell on that loss because I have people here on earth who need my focus and attention.

    I hear bitterness in your previous blogs. I hear such sadness, lonliness and someone trying to hang on through "getting away" on livestrong trips. I have three kids as well, 2 teenage boys who take alot more "babysitting" and time than I thought they would. I definitely experience Motherhood guilt......sometimes warranted, sometimes not.
    When it feels uneasy or negative or leaves you feeling lacking as a parent, I try to pray and really look inside and try to focus on my job. My job of motherhood. My job is to think positively, address issues positively, be thankful for the opportunity to "mold" my children. I definitely am not going through some "sweet" motherhood stage right now.....And I do hang on to verses from the bible, such as perseverence and raise them in the way they should go, and especially...Never Give Up!
    You are right....No one else can know when you need a break. No one else knows what it is like in your family. No one else can tell you how to feel. No one else can tell you the "right" way to parent....Just you. But I do believe in the strong messages of a mother's instinct. Dig deep enough and I think you can tell when you should be running/participating in livestrong activities and when you should slow down and be walking along side of the kids.