It is very hard to live with ‘mom guilt.’ My girls are adult women and you would think I could put aside my guilty feelings and revel in the joy of knowing they are lovely young women. So how can we deal with ‘mom guilt’ after 50?
Joy comes from observing their actions. They are loving, caring and have the highest standards. Guilt comes because I have no defense. I was not the perfect mom when my late husband, their father, died.
Today is Sunday in the Good home. I woke up at 6:00 a.m. to give Orchid her daily cache of pills. I rubbed her head and whispered in her ear, “I love you so much.” As I sit on the floor directly in front of her, I open her mouth with one hand and with the other I put one pill at a time down her throat. Sometimes I am off center and find the pill hanging in her beard. I then hug her for a long time. I wait for an hour and clock my time to the minute before feeding her. If she does not eat, I sit down on the floor again and hand feed her. In between hand feeding her, I give her ice cubes to lick out of my hand. Thirty minutes later I give her four more pills on a full tummy — doctor’s orders. I arrange our evenings around Orchid’s last pill that must be given on an empty tummy and then wait an hour to feed her dinner. Nothing is too much for me. She takes these pills because the copper in her liver is very high. If I do everything perfectly, the pills will bind around the copper and it will leave her liver. I am so diligent with Orchid. I wish I had been as dedicated to my daughters after their father suddenly passed away — I will always feel remorse.
This morning I made a delicious breakfast for my husband. I set a pretty table, hand cut fresh fruits, poured juice, counted out his vitamins, sliced fresh tomatoes and onions, toasted a bagel, opened up a package of Nova lox, put everything on a pretty platter and served my husband Sunday brunch. I thought of my daughters… how they needed me 100% of the time when their father suddenly passed away and I will always feel remorse.
As I was slicing, toasting, pouring and preparing a beautiful platter to set a lovely table, my husband said out of the blue,“I often think I could have been a much better father. I was always working.”
I could not believe my ears! We were silently, but at the same time, thinking about our parenting. I felt a sense of relief thinking to myself, “Is there a parent alive who does not feel some guilt or remorse? Is there a parent alive who does not wish with all their might that they could turn back the clock and do something differently?”
I looked up at my husband and said from my heart, “You were a great role model. Your sons observed your actions. You worked hard. You were a family man. You came home for dinner every night and your sons knew you loved their mother. You showed your children by example how to be an honest and charitable citizen. Please don’t be so hard on yourself.”
I could not help but listen to my last words, “Please don’t be so hard on yourself.”
I fought back my sadness, became a realist and stopped berating myself. I saw my glass half full. I remembered my daughter Jenny saying, “Mom, now that I am older and wiser, I understand.”
Dear readers: There is no stronger love than a mother’s love for her children. We give much and we err, too. We are human beings with frailties. Forgive yourself. I will try, to overcome the ‘mom guilt’ as well.