A Simple Look at a Not-So-Simple Life

Bad Mom?

I live in a nice little neighborhood where tons of kids roam freely and play in various yards on the street. Only recently did I decide that my two were old enough to venture outside the safety of our fenced back yard to join the rest of the neighborhood play. I set very firm boundaries on how far they are allowed to go and they are never allowed to go inside anyone’s home without my prior knowledge or permission. I usually crack a window so I can hear the general tone of play outside and make a few trips to the window or yard to see who is doing what and where.

My kids have made friends with three kids from a family several houses down. The parents home school the kids. They are always outside when the kids are playing. When I simply could NOT get a screw out of one of Gus’ remote controls, he took it down there and the dad fixed it. The mom has had several long talks with Mia. (Mia is 8 going on 30, so this doesn’t surprise me at all.) One afternoon, Gus came in and said that one of the other neighborhood kids had somehow hit him with a stick and it made his glasses go flying. (He assured me that the other kid was playing, not being mean.) He didn’t know where the glasses went. I sent him back out with instructions to get Mia and the other child to help him look, and that by golly they would find them. He left the house to go look, crying.This was my work-from-home day. I was technically still on the clock while simultaneously juggling laundry and starting supper.  A little while later he returned with the glasses. They weren’t broken, thank goodness. I asked if anyone helped him. “Yeah – Wyatt’s mom.”


Thank you, Wyatt’s mom. I appreciate your help. I really do. Only now I feel like a complete heel of a mom. Aren’t I supposed to be the mom outside watching the kids, playing with them? Aren’t I supposed to be the mom who fixes the kids’ toys? Aren’t I supposed to be the mom who patiently sifts through pine straw to find the missing glasses?

Instead, I’m the mom who not only doesn’t home school, I even leave my kids in after school care at least a couple of days a week. I’m the mom who is trying to keep the house and clothes reasonably clean while trying to fix supper so we won’t spend extra money going out for fast food while also working and writing on the computer. I mean, it’s not like I’m lounging on the couch, watching TV and eating bon-bons while other people take care of my children. I’m trying. Hard. And I’m trying hard to be good at what I do that brings home the paycheck. And I’m trying to satisfy this itch to write – an itch so bad I wonder if it’s a call too. Let’s see: 100% mom, 100% pastor, and 100% Jan = 300%. Surely I can make that work, right? No sweat.

That %@#& mommy guilt.


Single Post Navigation

3 thoughts on “Bad Mom?

  1. I’m the only stay-at-home mom on my street. Last summer was, um, heck, because the cul-de-sac kids took advantage of that and thought my house was romper room. No boundaries. Even when I set them. It’s taken almost a year to help them understand that when I say, “Not now,” it doesn’t mean, “Come back in 5 minutes.” But sometimes they still do. And on the weekends, when all the adults are hanging out on the street because they’re done with their day job for the week, I’m often inside, in my office, catching up on my writing and other work. I even resisted the urge to curse out a neighbor (man) who insinuated I had it easy because I’m “home all day”.

    My point? It’s okay to set boundaries around your work. Sometimes you have to demand your respect. I can guarantee you that if my son had lost his glasses and I was in the middle of something else, I would have told him the same thing. And yes, I would have felt guilty about it, too! But I don’t have a cure for that. I can just say that I have an inkling you’re doing an awesome job, at all of it.

  2. Thanks, Angie. I know there is always a debate (internal and external) that rages between stay-at-home moms and work-outside-the-home moms. (Notice that I didn’t say “working moms.” ALL moms are working moms!) I hope I in no way implied that my time, energy, frustrations, etc. are any more important than the mom’s down the street. In some ways, I am jealous of her. I wonder if being with her kids more than I am with mine makes her a better mom somehow. And she may wonder if others look down on her because she “just” stays home with the kids. Thus the ridiculous debate, insecurities, and guilt. The fact is, it’s what we give of ourselves to our children and not how or when that really matters. I keep telling myself that. Also, it takes a community to raise a child. As a single mom, I am deeply appreciative of the time that some of the dads take to do “boy stuff” with Gus. He needs that.

    I’ve been working on teaching our neighborhood kids boundaries, too. (If you ring the doorbell, please ring just once and not 15 times in fast succession. If no one answers and you still think we’re here, that means we’re busy and can’t come running. It doesn’t warrant another 15 rings. The kids will be out when they can play. Oh, and pretty days are made for playing outside. Please don’t take offense, but I really don’t want a revolving door of kids running in and out, especially since we have indoor pets that will try to slip out every time you open the door.) Slowly – and yes, it’s taken at least a year here too – they are learning.

    Hats off to you for finishing your book (and articles and blog posts) in the midst of the hullabaloo that is life with growing kids! You are my hero and my inspiration!

    • Hey Jan… sorry it took so long to come back and check on this post! I don’t think you at all implied your struggles, challenges or time are more important than the other mom’s. I wholeheartedly related to the guilt. I related to the need for boundaries. I wish more moms could be allies in that struggle instead of debating over the particulars of our unique situations. And I empathize with everything on your plate. It is A LOT.

      And your conversations with the neighborhood kids sound a lot like mine. When the baby is born, I’m going to make a sign that tells kids when they can ring the doorbell and when they can’t! The neighbors will love that! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: