Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mommy Guilt: Pile it On

I love having a large family, I really do. I love having all these kids. Yeah, they drive me up the freaking wall sometimes, but we have a loud, busy house full of love. I've always maintained that having so many siblings enriches each of my children's lives far more than it forces them to sacrifice, and I really do believe that to be true.


Today when I dropped the twins off at preschool, one of the teachers cheerily said to me, "So we'll see you for the class Christmas party at 10:45?" Umm, no. The truth is, I didn't even know it was today. I vaguely remember seeing a sign-up sheet for a potluck some time last week, but I ignored it, knowing that I wouldn't be able to come to the party (and I assumed the party would be on Friday, the last day before the kids' winter break, but that's neither here nor there). Why? Because I have two little ones at home with me: Lilah and Finn.

When I picked the girls up from preschool, Annabelle said to me, "All the mommies and daddies came to the party today. How come you didn't come to the party Mommy?" So I explained to her that Finn and Lilah are home with me and I don't have anyone else to take care of them so I can come to their class party.

A couple weeks ago, Joey had a field trip at school. He spent about a week before the field trip insisting that I had to go along as a Parent Helper. I explained to him, over and over, that I couldn't because I have Finn and Lilah to take care of. He wanted Daddy to stay home from work to be with the little ones so I could go on his field trip, but Daddy couldn't stay home that day. Joey even suggested that we have Grandpa Joe fly out from Florida to babysit so I could go.

This is one of the few areas that I carry some guilt about as far as the sheer number of kids we have. I've never been able to help in any of the kids' classrooms, or participate in class parties, or go on class field trips, because I always seem to have little ones at home. When I first quit my job after Joey was born and became an official stay-home-mom, I envisioned myself doing all of those things, and yet it's never come to pass. And I feel pretty awful about it at times. Like today.


Anonymous said...

I know that guilt you're talking about. As a mom of four, with the youngest being high needs. I never was able to be class parent or chaperon for field trips.

My kids though know and are starting to tell me (the oldest is 22)that they were glad I wasn't everyone else's mom, and just theirs. That they understood why I didn't do those things.

Nicole O'Dell said...

Yours is the third blog I've read just today that touches on this very problem. I face it, too, because I don't (won't) take my infant triplets to any school functions.

It's a really challenge to find the balance and do our best for all of these little people. Luckily, as a wise commenter pointed out on another blog:
Happy healthy kids from loving families won't be affected by one afternoon's events.

I always figure that at least I feel the guilt and try my best to make up for any possible. We just do the best we can.

heather said...

I so relate to this post! Even if I can get a babysitter I am usually nursing a baby and can't easily leave for a full day on a fieldtrip. I know it would mean so much to my kids but just isn't a possiblity for me at this time in my life. Unfortunately my oldest will be in junior high next year and won't need me to volunteer or help in any classroom parties. I worry that by the time I am finally able to do some school stuff it will be too late for my oldest three. There's so much guilt with this motherhood stuff!

Michelle said...

I am so living that right now! Nate has field trips every other week and I haven't made it to one. My mom was visiting over Halloween and went with him once. Everytime they have a field trip he talks about the other mommies and daddies going. My best excuse is work - and the one hour commute to get to his preschool in the middle of the day. Today, they are having a pet party and I rearranged my work schedule to be at his brothers parent conference. So I'll miss the party. Sigh....I have such guilt!

Liz said...

I hear you!! I don't have a large family... but I was one of those kids who had a mom who couldn't attend school functions or class parties or chaperone because she was a full time student and part time employee. When we first started talking about starting a family, we wanted one child for exactly this reason. So we could be as involved as possible and not be torn between activities and demands. But there was a greater plan for us because we have 2 kids now... and full time jobs.

So for all parents, there are things that interfere with the things we want to do.

Maybe you can start a thing with the other parents... like a rotating chaperone and child care thing? Some other mom can watch your kids for 2 hours for this field trip and then you can watch her kids for the class party, etc?