The Guilty Mom Syn­drome

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Live - A new at­tack Not the first

The Plague of Mommy Guilt has been around since time im­memo­rial. The mo­ment a woman gives birth and the colostrum comes drip­ping, mothers are just en­gulfed with this over­whelm­ing sense of guilt (breast ver­sus bot­tle). It stems from this de­sire to give the best by do­ing ev­ery­thing per­fectly right for our child, our flesh and blood. But there’s no such thing as per­fect; so we crum­ble from the pres­sure and we turn into our own worst critic. Lurk­ing be­hind every child’s smile is a mother who wor­ries if she is do­ing it right and who prays to high heav­ens that she doesn’t mess up.

This week, I had a pro­found at­tack of the Guilty Mom Syn­drome. I was cho­sen as a fel­low for the 21st Lopez Jaena Jour­nal­ism Workshop in IloIlo slated for De­cem­ber 3 to 8 (all ex­penses paid). To be se­lected among many es­teemed jour­nal­ists is an honor. I was ex­cited to at­tend.

Sadly, my hus­band has a busi­ness meet­ing. We both can’t be gone on a trip at the same time be­cause we have no fam­ily sup­port to help su­per­vise our kids, apart from the yayas/nan­nies. The big boss in our house, my 5 year old, cried: “If you’re gone, who’s go­ing to take care of me?” [Such a far cry from the re­ac­tion of his older teenage sib­lings who were ex­cited to have this dic­ta­tor mommy, that can snap and lose her cool, out of the house!]

To be fair to my hus­band, he vol­un­teered to can­cel all his plans be­cause he knows this op­por­tu­nity is per­fect for me. BUT the fru­gal person in me could not eas­ily turn a blind eye on the wasted money in the form of his plane tick­ets/ho­tel, plus missed busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties.

I also have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to my stu­dents too. The tim­ing is off for the workshop and cir­cum­stances are against what I want, mak­ing my heart heavy. I’ve al­ways be­lieved that if some­thing was meant to be, mak­ing the choice—even if it was tough—would feel good and bring some mea­sure of peace. Be­cause half-heart­ed­ness brings re­gret, I had to quash the nag­ging feel­ing of doubt and em­brace my de­ci­sion to stay.

The bal­anc­ing act of moth­er­hood and per­son­hood is a hard one to fine tune for me. I was an in­di­vid­ual first be­fore a mom; and I would still like to nur­ture my­self too, so I can be a person that my kids can look up to and em­u­late. But how? #TheStrug­gleIsReal

I stayed home out of ne­ces­sity with my 2 older kids in the US be­cause child­care was ex­or­bi­tant, and fam­ily was 4 hours away. From the tax per­spec­tive, it was also more ben­e­fi­cial to be my hus­band’s de­pen­dent.

When the youngest was born in Pi­nas a decade after his old­est sis­ter, I chose to stay home so he could ex­pe­ri­ence the same care and at­ten­tion. How­ever, I did not an­tic­i­pate the judg­ment in some peo­ple’s eyes when I put my ca­reer on hold. It was fol­lowed up with the dreaded stay-at-home-mom ques­tion: “What do you do all day?” Sigh.

The query made me feel that choos­ing not to work was a set­back and a waste of aca­demic de­grees. Was it not ok to be con­tent with home­mak­ing, chil­drea­r­ing, and let­ting my hus­band take the lead? I do re­al­ize that per­haps who­ever was ask­ing maybe cu­ri­ous and didn’t in­tend to make me feel bad. But I still felt bad any­way!

Full­time moth­er­hood can ac­tu­ally feel iso­lat­ing, es­pe­cially if you don’t know any­one at a sim­i­lar life stage. At times, work felt ap­peal­ing be­cause there: I Forced va­ca­tion photo in­clud­ing my teens who are usu­ally cam­era wary. (Yes, that’s my feet al­right!) Lurk­ing be­hind every child’s smile is a mother who wor­ries if she is do­ing it right and who prays to high heav­ens that she doesn’t mess up. get to pee with pri­vacy (no tod­dler bang­ing on the door ask­ing to be let in), have cof­fee with adult con­ver­sa­tion, eat lunch in peace, etc. But then, things would re­vert back to the same ques­tion: who can I trust to watch the baby? Ah, the guilt. Give sup­port Whether work­ing or stay-ath­ome, moms should never be made to de­fend their choices be­cause there’s no com­pe­ti­tion! The role of any mom is a huge re­spon­si­bil­ity. The mo­ment the baby is born, we mothers are in charge of an­other hu­man be­ing for the rest of his/her life. Even if he/she grows into adult­hood, we will still feel re­spon­si­ble for this “baby”. We all do what we can to get by. The world is al­ready full of so much neg­a­tiv­ity, so we really just ought to sup­port each other.

One thing I’ve learned hav­ing kids in both the preschool and high school stage is the days may seem long with moth­er­hood’s dirty work (spit-ups, di­a­pers, tantrums, bick­er­ing, etc), but the years are short, fast, and fleet­ing. Thus, we need to do what feels right for our fam­i­lies. We all come from dif­fer­ent back­grounds so what may work for some, may not work for oth­ers. Less judg­ment but more com­pas­sion and un­der­stand­ing for oth­ers are nec­es­sary be­cause it is not easy to be a mom/par­ent.

There are days when I can’t wait for my kids to sleep to get some peace and quiet. But even dur­ing par­ent­ing’s most dif­fi­cult mo­ments, I cher­ish the time spent with my chil­dren be­cause they won’t be lit­tle for­ever. I know that 30 years from now, it won’t mat­ter how much money I made, what ac­co­lades I re­ceived, what kind of car I had, etc. What’s more im­por­tant is that I made a dif­fer­ence in my kids’ lives and that they re­mem­ber a mother who tried her best to raise them well and loved them un­con­di­tion­ally.

Now, I drown my hurts with my youngest son’s kisses. On any given day, a pres­ti­gious jour­nal­ism op­por­tu­nity takes a back­seat to my kids’ needs. Though I feel dis­ap­pointed, I can only hope/pray that there will be more op­por­tu­ni­ties in the fu­ture with God’s per­fect tim­ing and grace. If none come, I will be ok be­cause I know I did right by my three kids. They shall al­ways be the pri­or­ity be­cause they will even­tu­ally leave. While they’re still in my nest, I give them the best of me for how­ever long they need and want me.

For com­ments and sug­ges­tions, hop-on over to: www. orochron­i­

A selfie with the big boss in our house, the 5 year old. My teenagers typ­i­cally hide from the cam­era. I can imag­ine the ado­les­cents think that they’re now too cool for this guilty mom.

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