Getting rid of mom guilt…

So, one of my “homework” assignments at my last CBT session was to spend some time away from my family doing something for myself.

It’s not that being away from my family causes me anxiety–my husband is a fully capable, loving, wonderful parent. I know my kids are fine with him.

Being away from them does, however, cause me a fair amount of guilt and my therapist informs me that this is an OCD thing as well. (Of course it is. Seems I can’t have a single negative emotion that isn’t somehow tied to OCD, but that’s for another day…) As we’re trying to weed all of the OCD out of my life, this is something she wants me to deal with.

I don’t remember feeling all that guilty about doing things for myself before my son was born… but now it’s a fairly pervasive emotion that often prevents me from doing anything without my children in tow.

The first year of my son’s life, I had exactly ONE haircut. I saw exactly ONE movie.

Some people might hear this and think that I didn’t have a supportive partner in parenting–I did. (I do.)

…but for some reason I held myself to a different standard than I held him. It’s not that I think I’m a better parent, or that I fancy myself the martyr, but for some reason I can’t get the thought that taking care of our kids is my only job out of my head.

The thing about being stay-at-home parent is that home is your job, so you’re never really off duty– that is, you never feel like you’re off duty–or at least I don’t. When I had a career (teaching) I had real, tangible ways of determining my contributions to the world.

Now, I don’t.

If I let it, taking care of my family and our home could be a 24/7 job.

I don’t know where to draw the line.

I have always felt the need to contribute–moreover, to be able to prove that I contribute, and there isn’t a rubric for parenting. I won’t know if I’ve done enough to prepare my children for the world until they have grown (and by then it will have been too late) so I keep busy. I run my kids to lessons and activities, I pound caffeine at nap time so I can clean the house, I do one last load of dishes or laundry after they’ve gone to bed. My husband sits down and is present for our kids at the end of the night, whereas I have turned into some sort of mom/zombie. A mombie.

I feel guilty for wanting (needing?) time to recharge, time to myself, and I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s because on top of working outside the home, my husband also helps with chores and is a phenomenal caretaker of our children, whereas all I do is take care of the kids and the house and I don’t also contribute financially. I don’t help with his job, so I shouldn’t be taking a break while he helps in mine.

I know this is ridiculous. They are his children too and he also lives/makes messes in our home. Refusing to delegate is robbing him of opportunities to be the awesome husband and father he really is–but I just can’t help it. I don’t feel like I deserve the break if he’s not taking one at the same exact time.

I know that my husband doesn’t see it the same way. He frequently encourages me to take care of myself and wouldn’t even flinch if I actually asked him to give me some time to myself, but I just can’t bring myself to ask him most times. So I’m kind of stuck. Trapped by my own guilt.

I need to work on that.

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