It’s been three years since I became a single mother of two amazing boys. It’s been three years that I’ve had my life rearranged and scheduled on a daily basis due to co-parenting. I have shared custody with my children’s father, and it’s exactly 50/50. We live 5 miles apart so I can see my children whenever I want if it’s not “my” day to have them. I have time away from them every week, and sometimes for up to a week at a time.
So why do I find myself constantly feeling guilty when I wish for time to myself?
I AM PLAGUED WITH MOMMY GUILT!
You see, my situation seems to be very unique amongst other single parents I have talked to. I have a very specific 50/50 custody schedule, which rotates on a 6-week basis. Because of this schedule, yes, it’s easy for me to plan ahead, knowing exactly what days I have my boys. But it also serves to be a roadblock on a lot of things that I would like to plan for myself, but can’t due to the inflexibility of my schedule.
When it comes down to taking time for myself, I fail miserably. I have taken on the mindset since my divorce that since I only have my children 50% of the time, I should spend all my time with them when I have them. If I take time for myself while I have them, I feel that it’s a disservice to the time I have with them.
Hard to overcome? Without question!
In my warped sense of being “super mom” I often neglect myself in this super hero scenario. I love my children with every ounce of my being. I prayed hard and long for my children and after miscarrying twins, these boys are my miracles and I am thankful beyond words for being their mom. But I also KNOW (knowing and doing are two separate things in my world) that I need to make sure I’m taken care of in order to take care of them. What’s that quote we always hear and say? “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself.”
Sure it’s easy to quote that and have full intention of taking the time. But then reality sets in and the guilt comes flooding back.
I can’t take time away from my boys….I only have them half the time. That would be selfish!
I feel like I have to be doing something with my boys all the time….We need to make up for the time we’ve been apart! I hate thinking that I need some alone time…I already spend half of my time without my kids! Even when I have my kids, they are in school all day and I only see them a few hours each night…I shouldn’t wish bedtimes to be here quickly because time is precious!
I know you’re thinking that I’m crazy and that I shouldn’t be feeling all this guilt, but I do feel guilty all the time about wanting “me time.” Even after not seeing my boys for a few days while they are at their dad’s house, sometimes, I feel like even just 30 minutes alone would change my mindset. But then guilt overwhelms me again. Don’t wish away time with your boys!
I’m just tired more than anything. I’m a light sleeper when my boys are at home so I rarely get more than a few hours of sleep each night. I rush around picking them up after school, making dinner, doing homework, getting showers, getting ready for bed, making school lunches, and getting clothes ready for the next day. I’m constantly on the go when I have my boys.
And on the opposite spectrum, if I don’t have my boys, I’m working longer hours to make up my missing hours from getting them to school (since they don’t take the bus) and then working on “catching up” from when I did have them and couldn’t keep up with the laundry or cleaning or the multiple piles of school papers that come home with them every day. Not to mention the random toilet clogging, showers overflowing, guinea pig cage changes and tending to our family dog. It’s pretty much unending!
Mommy guilt is real. It’s hard, and even after dealing with this for three years now, it’s still on the forefront of my mind. I can fully understand parents that have their children full-time needing a break and time alone because, well, you have your kids all the time. Parenting is exhausting! Parenting is a non-stop, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week job. Just like any other job, a break is always good and you get refreshed from all the daily stressors that come your way.
But as a single mom with shared custody, I haven’t yet mastered the art of taking time for myself. As long as my mommy guilt is present, I know I’m going to continue to feel overwhelmed. For our family, this is definitely not a healthy strategy. Maybe this will be my pre-new years resolution. Perhaps now will be the time to start filling my proverbial cup so that I can pour out a healthy amount to my children to the point of overflow. Maybe that’s a stretch, but it’s at least a step in the right direction!