Mommy-guilt. Today I was lying in bed most of the morning because of the latest heat-guided missile event in my intestines in the last five days. I only feel relief while lying down. They are random, uncomfortable and mostly annoying. We can’t find a trigger, I think it’s just a weird virus as my kids have all recently had lower GI viruses. The other most likely scenario is that it is hormonal, because it’s not unheard of in my storied history.
Whenever I have to spend time in bed like that, it makes me feel worse because every second in bed is one where I’m not cleaning or playing with someone. Only Will is home today, and he was more than happy to watch a video and play with cars and trains. He loves making up scenarios. Thankfully, dinner tonight is leftovers and I did feed him lunch. Still, it’s annoying, I realize I do need to take care of myself and that while some pushing through the pain is okay, completely ignoring my body is a mistake too.
Boy did I ever learn that this past Christmas. Waking up Christmas Eve with the muscles in my upper back and neck spasming was an ugly wake-up call. I couldn’t drive myself to mass (Jeff offered to take me, but I was scared of them getting worse while at mass and not being able to get myself out the door and then there was the issue of a couple of our kids having sniffles and illness likes to snowball here). I was pretty much useless to clean, cook or do anything. It was supposed to be Jeff’s vacation, but being the awesome father and husband he is, he jumped right in. He even gave me a get out of jail free card for his family’s Christmas gathering Christmas Day, but I made it. I’d had building tension that I ignored, no pain, no gain, Kristen! It’s Christmas, no time to rest!
But I felt awful, we didn’t make the gingerbread Spongebob Pineapple I promised. (It’s still here, waiting to be opened.) We didn’t get any cookies made and poor Jeff in taking care of me, forgot to buy potatoes to bring to his family’s dinner. (Christmas Day he got instant ones from Walgreens and doctored them so well, no one was the wiser.) Yes, that was totally my fault. If I had gotten a bit more rest, if I had stretched my body a little more, if I had neglected Jeff’s presents a little and paid to go to urgent care, if I had LISTENED to my body and slowed my stubborn butt down, none of that would have happened.
I try not to think of these days as a wash when I force myself to lie down for a couple of hours. But I can’t stop thinking of breakfast dishes in the sink, a little boy playing by himself (he will often snuggle me if I’m really not feeling well), and the thousands of other things I’m ‘neglecting.’ I wonder, did Mary or Elizabeth or Hannah or any of the Biblical mothers ever go through this? This mommy guilt? What about St Anne? Or Sarah? Or Rebekah? Or Leah and Rachel? Or is this a guilt trip found only to us mom in the 20th and 21st centuries?
Jennifer Fulwiler’s post about when she finally got the diagnosis of the pulmonary embolisms helped her to let go of some of that guilt resonated deeply with me. Both because I have been guilty of the degree of laziness she describes and because of the enormous weight I attach to moments when I can’t be productive. My mother has often told me that every generation of moms has different pressures, different distractions, and different expectations that makes life difficult. I am beginning to realize how true that is, and I am trying to cut myself some slack, really I am. It’s difficult, but no one said this whole mothering thing wasn’t going to be.