I struggle on a daily basis to balance it all. Being a mom, wife, business owner, wedding planner, venue owner - there is a lot on my plate. Sometimes I want to just walk away and be just a mom and a wife. Then my husband gently reminds me that I would be happy for about 2 minutes and then be itching to get back into something. He is right. But sometimes the guilt seems too much.
There is nothing worse than "mommy guilt." Truly - I can have guilt about past friendships, aspects of my job, or even my marriage at times. But nothing truly pulls on my heart and leaves me this gut wrenching feeling than my mommy guilt. I call it "my" mommy guilt because I don't believe that someone else is judging me - I don't buy into all that - but I, me, personally, put it upon myself.
Most instances of mommy guilt are minor. "I should be buying organic vegetables." "Are the kids feeling like I am never around?" "Do they look a little skinny to you?" "Man, I should be reading more to them." "Ugh- I will never be able to schedule a play date!" "Should they be in ballet, soccer, art class, etc?" The list goes on and on and I am convinced I should just start saving now for their therapy when they are 20. There is very rarely a time when the guilt seems so overwhelming that it moves you to tears and truly makes you look at yourself and wonder what you did wrong. Such a moment happened this morning.
A little background here - Ada is obsessed with skirts and dresses. I don't really care - but the girl will only wear dresses/skirts. Now I am not a crazy controlling mom. But what does drive me nuts is that she wears the same thing over and over has literally a drawer full of shirts and shorts that she never touches. So we started a clothing chart. It has 4 dresses and 3 pants. She picks the day she wants to wear a dress/skirt or shorts. However, once all 4 dresses have been used she has to wear pants. The chart resets on Mondays and she normally does the chart happily. She likes the control and the expected. She always wears her dresses Monday-Thursday then shorts Friday-Sunday.
Today is Thursday and normally a dress day. So, what is the problem? Well this week she knew Sunday was Mother's Day, and she knew she wanted to wear a dress. She struggled. I was tired. Bad combination. She really wanted to wear a skirt. I really wanted to get her brother dressed. We talked about it, and talked about it, and talked about it. She just kept saying she really wanted to wear it. I normally would just acquiesce and move on, but this morning I was really irritated at how this little girl was so upset about a pair of shorts. I walked away for a few and then told her to come sit with me on the couch. She is in tears - well fighting tears. I asked her - a question I don't think I had ever asked - "What is the difference between shorts and a dress?" Her response - "I'm not beautiful in shorts!" Then the sobs started - I mean hiccups, snot, big alligator tears kind of crying. Her head is buried in my lap and I just want to cry with her.
Now - to most people they may think this is silly. But she was serious. She genuinely felt like she was not beautiful in a pair of shorts. I told her that she is beautiful no matter what she wears. That clothes don't define who you are. As we sat there, I couldn't stop thinking about myself. Not literally 2 days ago I was lamenting over having nothing to wear that makes me feel pretty. I can't tell you the last time I did not stop in front of a mirror to adjust this and that. I do not know the last time I just walked into the shower with out inspecting the fact that I should probably lose those love handles, or inspecting the many stretch marks my babies left me. I pick, I prod, I complain about my skin, my hair, and whatever else is getting me down. When I put on make-up, a nice dress, and some heels - I feel prettier and I act more confident.
We live in a world where the princesses my daughter loves are only seen wearing dresses and told they are beautiful. Yes, they are brave and smart and whatnot - but they are not told they are - just that they are beautiful. Kate - a real life princess - is judged based on her dress and applauded for looking perfect hours after giving birth. All I heard was "Wasn't she just so beautiful?!?" "look at how thin she is!" "Her dress is stunning, and so perfect." Yes this is all true, but she was also amazingly strong and brave (you would not have found me stepping out, much less functioning that soon after).
"Do you ever feel smart?"
"Sometimes," she responds.
"Do you ever feel kind?"
"Do you ever feel sweet?"
"Only when you tell me"
*Slowly a smile starts to emerge*
"Do you ever feel like you are a good friend?"
"Not all the time"
"Do you ever feel brave"
"Not when I get shots!"
"Do you ever feel like you love other people?"
" Of course Mom!"
"Ada you are all these things. You are not just beautiful. Beauty is not about what you look like, or what you wear, but who you are baby girl. You are smart, kind, sweet, a great friend/cousin/sister, brave, and you love people so much! That is what makes you beautiful"
I told her that I was sorry I didn't tell her those things more often. The guilt was overwhelming and heart breaking. But in a way it was something I needed to hear. We will probably still battle over dresses and shorts, but I can guarantee that my "you are beautiful" compliments will not be reserved for when she is wearing a dress, but for when she is being smart, or brave, or kind, or just Ada.