The other day I found myself alone in my house. This doesn't happen often and while I had a list a mile long of things to do, I found myself aimlessly flipping through channels on the TV just because I could without interruption. This landed me on the Ellen Show with guest Jennifer Lopez. I happen to like Jennifer Lopez and so I stopped to listen to the interview. Jennifer Lopez has twins about the age of my son and so the topic of motherhood came up. Ellen asked Lopez what the biggest surprise of motherhood is, that you always hear about how hard it is but it is worth it all and the best thing anyone has ever done. Lopez thought for a few moments and then gave the best answer I've ever heard. The biggest surprise of motherhood, she said, is the guilt. I found myself shouting yes at the TV. Nobody ever told me about the guilt.
You feel guilty doing something by yourself - whether it's taking a shower or going out for an hour. You feel guilty for not liking your body, for picturing where you would be without kids, for not wanting sex, for wanting to pursue your own dreams and hobbies. You feel guilty when the house isn't clean and if you clean it you feel guilty for taking time from your children to clean. You feel guilty when you serve chicken nuggets, french fries, and corn for the umpteenth time because it is the easy way out and everyone is satisfied. Then there is the guilt at the end of the day as you ask yourself were you the best Mom possible. Maybe I shouldn't have yelled at my two year old as he peed on my bed. Did I give my children enough hugs? Am I teaching them the things that are important for them to succeed in life?
As I write this my youngest is waking up from her nap and I feel guilty that I am not responding immediately. There is even a small amount of guilt that I took time to write this instead of doing my chores.
Nobody told me about the guilt and nobody has told me how to handle the guilt. So, it all builds up until it overflows in tears and hormones, usually directed toward my husband. And as he holds me and tells me it will all be okay I can't help but feel guilty that he had to come home to such an emotional wife.