Last week, I was at the courthouse when opposing counsel told me his wife was busy hauling their eight year-old daughter, who is a couple years older than my daughters, to after school activities.
Let me see if I remember this correctly. His daughter partook in ten activities. You didn’t read it wrong. Ten.
Chess, soccer, French lessons, dance, competitive gymnastics, swim, violin, Girl Scouts, mini yoga, and sewing. My colleague said his daughter didn’t get home until after 9 p.m. each night and that she still had to do her homework and shower before bed.
Hearing this child’s schedule was exhausting.
Then it started creeping in: MOM GUILT.
As background, I have a personal policy in my home that each of my kids is allowed two extracurricular activities at a given time. Two activities gives my kids freedom to decide what to do without them burning out. It also allows me to maintain sanity, as I work part time as a lawyer and have a crazy schedule. I know my personal limits, and any more activities will trigger irritation that results in impatience, yelling, and nothing good.
Notwithstanding this personal rule of two activities, I began comparing myself to my colleague’s wife and felt like a crappy mother. I questioned whether my two-activity policy was selfish. I asked myself whether I was depriving my kids of amazing opportunities because I didn’t want to chauffeur them anymore than I already did.
“What if the girls have more talent than Frederic Chopin and I’ll never know about it because they don’t take piano lessons? Should I go online and order a Baby Grand?”
I stressed about it for a couple days.
Then I had the epiphany.
I have to do what is best for me and my family and own it.
I can lie to myself all day and pretend to be the type of mom that I want to be instead of the mom I actually am. You know what would happen? It would never fly.
Here’s the reality.
I’m not a Pinterest mom. I love OTHER Pinterest moms, but party planning is not my gift. I’m content with throwing a party at a park with a pizza, bounce house, and decorations that don’t match. I just want my kids to have fun.
I’m not a PTA mom. I love OTHER PTA moms, but committee stuff is not my gift. Yes, I can do it and get it done, but it’s not my calling. I love attending events and don’t have to be on the planning committee. I’d rather let other moms have the proverbial floor. I’m content being an Indian and not the Chief.
I’m not a Sally Homemaker mom. I love OTHER Sally Homemaker moms, but keeping house is not my gift. I marvel over the way some moms make cleaning, homemaking, and raising children look effortless. I aspire to be that way and ask them for advice, but that’s just not how God wired me.
I’m not the patient Math Tutor mom. I love OTHER Math Tutor moms, but if I want my kids to love me, I have to let someone else help them with their homework. Otherwise, it ends with tears, frustration, and eye rolls. Because fractions and long division.
I am not the mom who is going to put her kids in ten activities. I love and respect those moms. I’m not shaming them. Some kids enjoy being super active. Some kids need to burn off energy. Some moms like driving their kids everywhere and don’t mind getting home late.
But those are not my kids and that is not me. I’m not going to let Mom Guilt blind me to what my kids and I really need, which is time to rest before bedtime.
Just because being a Pinterest mom, PTA mom, Sally Homemaker mom, Math Tutor mom, or Activity mom aren’t my gifts doesn’t mean I don’t have them. There are plenty of other things to bring to the table and I’ll own what I know I am: a chauffeur, therapist, cook, knock-knock joke teller, laundry lady, hairdresser, stylist, snack-maker, sideline-cheerer, bedtime storyteller, board game-player, movie watcher, and teacher.
I’m okay with all those things. I don’t need to be a Pinterest mom. I just care about doing my best.