Mom Guilt

We can’t catch a break.  Molly is sick.  AGAIN.  Strep this time.  The other four are coughing, have stomach aches, and the general yuckies.  This time, even the husband got sick and I’m still coughing (though I wouldn’t be if I could remember to take that darn allergy medicine.)

I had to call into work again, for two days.  Depending on what the doctor says about the other four kids tomorrow, I may have to call in for more.  I feel terrible about it.

I’ve missed A LOT of work this year.  Every time I call in, my stomach does these little flip-flops.  I just know they think I’m lying.  After all, whose kids get sick every other week?

Mine, obviously.  With five of them in the house, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s all the same illness from October, just slowly making the rounds.  Once it grounds one, it moves on to the next, and so on and so forth.  We are the revolving door of bacteria.

revolving door

It’s times like these when I miss staying home with my kids the most.  When I was home, if a kid was sick it wasn’t a big deal.  They stayed in bed, I took them to the doctor, to the McDonald’s (the compensation for the poking and prodding at the doctor’s office) and back home again.  Zero guilt.  Now, I have to make the dreaded phone call to work.  It’s stressful.  As if it’s not stressful enough having a sick kid.

Then I think about those mothers who have more important jobs than me.  Not that feeding children in a school cafeteria isn’t important, but let’s face it.  Anybody can do my job and there is a list of substitutes who’d love the work.  What about those people who are the only ones who can do their jobs?  The ones who, if they miss a day, cause other people to not be able to do their jobs?

I’m guessing a lot of sick children are given some ibuprofen and sent on their (un)merry way to infect other children (like mine.)  I’m not blaming them.  I’ve done it myself, on occasion.  But I don’t like it.

In fact, I hate it.

sick toddler pulling on her earsWhen my kids are crying because they have a headache, or their ears hurt, and they have a temperature, I can’t  stand the idea of making them go to school because I “can’t” miss work.  It’s not fair to them or me.  They’re my kids.  I want to take care of them.  They deserve to be taken care of.

Childhood lasts but an instant and the days when I can tend to their every need are numbered.  They are precious.

I don’t know what the solution is.  What I do know, is that every mom has to make the decision to work or not, according to what’s best for their family.  I know that we, as mothers, need to keep in mind that we all want what’s best for our children before we condemn others for the decisions they, as mothers, make.

I also know that when we make that decision, no matter how much or how long we weighed the options, we always feel guilty about that decision at one time or another.

Guilty for calling off work.  Guilty for working at all.  Guilty for not working.  Guilty for sending kids to daycare.  Guilty for sending sick kids to school. Guilty for not contributing money to the household.  Guilty for the time we get to spend with our kids.  Guilty for the time we don’t.  Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.

Guilt sucks.

“Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving.” ~Erma Bombeck

Guilt

 

Related Posts:

Hell Week at Momfog’s House

Never Ask:  What Will Happen Next?

Exhausted

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What A Difference A Day Makes

At some point, every mom feels useless, lazy, inept, stupid, sad, fake, or guilty.  Useless because she’s “just a mom” and doesn’t have anything else to offer the world.  Lazy because the dishes are piled in the sink, the laundry basket is full, and there’s a strange smell coming from the kid’s room and she doesn’t have the energy to care, much less do anything about it.  Inept because she’s just yelled at the kids for being kids and is probably doing things on a daily basis that will screw them up for life.  Stupid because she can’t remember the word for that round glass object she piles the mountains of food on to scarf down in a mindless comfort eating session.  Sad because she spends too much time reading Jane Austen novels and watching too many chick flicks and then wondering why her husband isn’t making grand declarations of his love and appreciation using words of four or more syllables or pithy statements like “You complete me.”  Fake because no matter how she’s feeling on the inside, outwardly she’s smiling and pretending everything is great.  Guilty because her kids and her husband know the truth.

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/479464

Image via stock.xchnge

Usually, these emotions don’t present all at the same time.  There’s a brief moment of weakness and then the joys of life take over.  The kids say the cutest thing, her husband does the dishes, complete strangers compliment her kids’ manners, she answers 75% of the questions on Jeopardy, there are clean spoons, or when somebody asks her how she feels she can honestly answer, “Great!”  These are the normal ups and downs of motherhood–life spent in the slightly hazy outskirts of mom fog.

Then there are the unusual times.  When all these emotions are weighing so heavily, it’s difficult to get out of bed.  And that is where I’ve been for the past month or so.  I’ve been walking around in a mom fog so dense I can’t even see my hand in front of my face. I suppose it’s a kind of depression.  Luckily, it’s the situational kind.  I know why I’m depressed and I know what to do about it.

I have lived away from “home” for 9 years.  I get back every once in a while for a completely inadequate amount of time for the things I want to do and the people I want to see.  I miss my family and friends.  It’s normally just a vague feeling in the back of my mind that occasionally moves to the forefront when I stop and think too much.  Usually, I’m too busy to dwell on it.  Lately, it’s been thrown in my face.

First of all, having kids is a constant trip down memory lane.  Every birthday reminds me of my childhood at that particular age.  Every slumber party revives the memories of late nights giggling, gossiping, and swooning over boys both “real” and famous.  Every goofball thing my kids say and do reminds me of the goofball things I did as a kid.  It’s impossible not to compare my experiences with theirs.

Then there’s the stupid wonderful thing that is Facebook.  I get to read what my family and friends are doing without me.  A simple status update of “Best girls night out EVER” reminds me of what I’m missing and nearly brings me to tears.

Worst of all, there’s The Blog.  I started Momfog as a way to combat mom fog–an outlet for frustration and creativity, a way to connect to adults, a way to discuss non-kid-related subjects.  It worked.  For a while.  Then I started using a writing prompt–RemembeRED.  I love doing it.  I read some fantastic writing and get some feedback for my own.  But it’s all about memoir.  I’m forced to look back on my childhood and the constant stream of memories only make me more homesick.  It started with The Games of Life which made me think of my best friend and cousin (the writer of the offending Facebook status) and my mamaw.  That made me think of my grandma, aunts and uncles, and my other cousins.  That led me to write My Old Kentucky Home.  That only made things worse.  The fog that I thought was harmless and amusing became an ever-present, black, suffocating thing.  I thought I was doomed to wander aimlessly in it forever.

And then I got the phone call.

My dear daddy is going to help me come home.  My husband has graciously agreed he can survive two weeks without me and the kids.  He’s even got a plan for the food situation.  He’s going to take advantage of his female co-workers’ sympathy and beg leftovers.  I sincerely hope he’s joking, but after tasting the Korean egg rolls he brought home, I’m not sure I’d blame him for trying.  His mother has also offered to let him come to her house if he gets lonely.  It’s comical, really.  The man can cook and I’m sure he will fare just fine in the loneliness department.  He’ll have his mistress to keep him busy.  I’m speaking of golf, of course.  Two weeks of as much golf as he can handle with absolutely no one to gripe about it?  Yeah, I’m sure he’ll suffer greatly while I’m gone.

So, just like that, the fog has lifted.  I wasn’t depressed.  Not really.  I just wanted to go home, see my family, and have a girl’s night out with old friends.  Guess what?  I feel like cleaning my house from top to bottom.  Maybe I’ll watch a Lifetime “men are evil” movie and thank my lucky stars for my husband, who may not say “You complete me” out loud but shows me in a million subtle ways that I do.  When my kids are fighting and doing their best to make me lose my marbles, I’ll attack them with kisses and get them on the ground for a good ol’ tickle fight.  No feelings of inadequacy, no guilt, and no yelling.

Until I have to spend 12 hours alone in the car with them, anyway.

Escapes

photo of miraj sitar

Image via Wikipedia

Daily Foglifter:  Listening to music assists in pain management, reduces blood pressure, soothes migraines, boosts immunity, enhances intelligence and memory, increases productivity, and promotes relaxation.  Source

A few weeks ago, I received a gift from a reader named Jeff.  After reading my Autism entry, he e-mailed me asking if he could send a relaxation CD to play for my son.  Music is an effective method of relaxation, particularly for those with Autism.  Never one to pass up free stuff, I agreed. 

I will confess that I was a little worried.  When I hear the term, “relaxation music”,  I think of sitars and chanting.  Neither of these things relax me, as I can’t relax when being creeped out.  I had a massage once with some very disturbing demonic chanting.  Completely counter-productive.  When the CD arrived, my apprehension grew when the blurb on the back of the CD case read, “the ideal tempo and rhythm for creative inspiration, massage, yoga, scenic drives, or just winding down.”  At least it didn’t mention meditation.  I don’t have anything against any of these things, I just don’t understand the particular soundtrack people use to do them.

It took a while for me to actually play it.  I usually tune the DIRECTV to my favorite music station (Channel 832, Adult Alternative) or listen to my Playlist on the computer.  I play CDs in the car and since I’m always running late, I never remembered to grab the CD off the desk.

I was feeling really guilty about not listening to it.  Jeff wasn’t pushy.  In fact, he never once contacted me and said, “Why haven’t you mentioned my CD?” or “Have you listened to it yet?”  Of course, that made me feel more guilty.  I immediately put it in my car for the next trip.  And it sat in the CD changer for a week, unheard.

Then, on a day when the kids were being particularly loud and irritable, I remembered the CD.  If it could calm down my rowdy bunch until we got home, that would be high praise indeed.  I turned it on, hoping for the best, preparing for the worst, and was pleasantly surprised.  Not a sitar, singing bowl, gong, or chanter anywhere.  Just a guitar and a piano, playing pleasant relaxing music.    It was playing for a couple of minutes before I noticed the kids had gone silent.  Seriously, not a peep.

I drove for another five minutes when the 12-year-old asked, “What is this music?”

I answered, “It’s instrumental.  It’s nice, isn’t it?”

He said, “It’s making me sleepy.” The other three kids agreed.

DING DING DING!  We have a winner!

This is now my “go-to” CD when the kids are getting rowdy.  They immediately calm down.  They may talk, but it’s in a quieter voice.  I use it sparingly, in fear they’ll acclimate to it, but it still works every time I turn it on. For them and for me.

The CD is  “Escapes” by Jeff Gold.  You can buy or download “Escapes” and more music by Jeff Gold by going to

http://jeffgold.bandcamp.com/album/escapes-music-for-relaxing or

www.jeffgoldmusic.com 

When you enter the code “momfog” in the shopping cart you will receive a 20% discount.  A free download is included with the purchase of a CD. 

“Almost all children respond to music. Music is an open-sesame, and if you can use it carefully and appropriately, you can reach into that child’s potential for development.”  ~Dr. Clive Robbins

Nordoff-Robbins uses music therapy to help over 100 handicapped children learn and to relate and communicate with others.

Monday, Beautiful Monday

Daily Foglifter: Stress contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and other illnesses in many individuals. Stress also affects the immune system, which protects us from many serious diseases.

Normally, Mondays and me don’t get along.  Today, however, I’ve never been so happy to see a Monday.  Did I have to get up at 6 am?  Yep.  Is it going to be another hot day that will battle mercilessly with my current A/C situation and win, making my house a glorified sauna?  Absolutely.  Is something guaranteed to break down, go wrong, or generally suck?  99.9% possibility.  Bring it on.  It’s still a beautiful Monday.

How can that be?  Well, I’ll tell you.  Last week was Spring Break.  All week, all 5 children were home driving me absolutely bananas.  I had to take them everywhere with me–the grocery store, the doctor’s office, and shopping.  It’s usually just me and the baby girl making delightful trips around town, basking in the peace and quiet.  Not last week.  Every trip we took resulted in fighting, yelling, and general chaos.  I know it was bad because when I returned to the grocery store alone TWO DAYS after going with the whole brood, the checkout girl said, “Weren’t you in here a couple of days ago with a bunch of kids?”  How would she remember that unless we made a special impression?  She wouldn’t.  Out of the thousands of people she’s seen in the grocery store, she remembered me, even without “a bunch of kids” at my side.  I can only imagine why.  Maybe it was pure pity for the mother of such an unruly lot.  Maybe it was my face, or rather the color of my face, when I was hissing threats in the ears of my little brutes–a brilliant and disturbing shade of reddish-purple.  Or maybe it was the fact that I actually yelled, “Stop!” loud enough to be heard a couple of aisles away.  Whatever the reason, I was mortified and will now avoid her line in the future.

Aside from errands, it’s also a challenge to have all the kids home all day.  My usually quiet days with the baby girl transform into the kind of days that try moms’ souls.  Days in which my children test the utmost boundaries of my love and commitment to them.   First, they fight constantly.  Things usually start off pretty innocently.  A little pretend sword fighting, a friendly game of Mario Kart, or watching a movie.  It always ends in yelling, name-calling, a loud Smack!, and all the kids running to me as fast as possible to blame someone else for starting the ruckus.

Second, all they do is eat.  From the time they get us until they lay their precious heads down, they’re stuffing food in their mouths.  I’ve never heard the words, “I’m hungry!” so many times in my life. And they’re never hungry at the same time.  Here’s a brief list of what they’ve eaten this week:

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

  • 7 gallons of milk
  • 3 (2 lb) loaves of bread
  • 6 boxes of cereal
  • 2 lbs. of ham
  • 2 lb. cheese
  • 6 bags of chips
  • 3 containers of Kool-Aid (each makes 2 gallons)
  • 2 Value Packs of Go-gurt  (each has 24 tubes)

The bank account is trembling in fear and trepidation of the summer to come.

Third, they’re LOUD, even when they’re using their “inside voices,” which isn’t often, the noise is unbearable.  Add the noise of the television or those irritating handheld video games to 5 kids talking at once and you have a cacophonous mess.  I suspect there will be many “lockouts” this summer.

So after the kind of week I had, this Monday couldn’t get here fast enough.  I awoke in good spirits, managed to get the kids up and ready and out the door on time with no yelling.  It was beautiful.  Until #4 decided to be his adorable but difficult self.  He walked to the waiting bus, and when he reached the open door, he shied like a racehorse being led into its stall.  Instead of whinnying he opted for crying and moaning the word, “Mom-my.”  His week at home had reverted him to the mama’s boy he was before he started school.  This mama’s boy tendency is why we decided to put him in Pre-K in the first place.  A kid tried to coax him on the bus but this only increased the wailing.  Then his sister gave it a try and then his wailing became screaming.  I had to get out of the car and put him on the bus.  Luckily I was dressed this morning and not wearing my pajamas like I normally do.  The bus drove off and I could still hear his crying through the open windows.  I suspect there may be a sad face 😦 on his report today, but I’m okay with that.

Me and my baby girl returned home, sat down to watch some Bubble Guppies, and promptly fell asleep on the couch and slept for an hour and a half.  She woke me up with a kiss and a “Hi, mommy” in that precious baby voice of hers.  We played with some baby dolls and had an early lunch.  Now she’s playing with some Tupperware and a spoon.  The house is quiet and amazingly cool.  Dinner is thawing on the counter, a load of laundry is in the washing machine, and the television is tuned to the classical music station.  There is probably something else I should be doing, but I think I’m going to finish a book I started 6 weeks ago. (!)  I’ll return to reality when the kids get home.  Until then, I’m basking in this Monday.  This beautiful Monday.

My Beautiful Monday

“Reading is one form of escape. Running for your life is another.”  ~Lemony Snicket

Whine and Roses

Daily Foglifter:  The term “horse sense” originates from the American West between the years 1825-35.

The temperature outside today went into the 90s and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  It was truly a beautiful day.  I didn’t step outside once.  I spent the day inside.  It wasn’t much different as the temperature inside the house topped out at a cool 86 degrees.  The air conditioner is broken.  We have a window unit and a portable AC unit, but it’s no match for the sun beating down on our undoubtedly damaged roof.

It’s only April and the weather around these parts doesn’t get cooler.  It gets hotter.  And wetter.  It’s unpleasant.  It makes me irritable.  It makes the kids complain.  It’s horrible.  It makes my brain forget how to form complex sentences.  It also makes me forget to use my good common sense.  My horse sense, if you will.

I’ve been doing cakes for years.  I’ve been going to church on Wednesday night for years.  I know that I have to have dinner ready at a certain time if there’s any hope of eating before 9:00 pm.  It doesn’t matter that I know all that.  I still didn’t plan my day accordingly.  Well, I thought I did.  But the heat and humidity through a wrench in the works.

An unexpected result of The Blog has been an increase in cake orders.  That is, they went from nonexistent to one a week for 5 weeks.  I’m thrilled.  I really do love doing it.  But I’ve always had a working air conditioner and it has never been so hot in my house when decorating.

Heat + butter + sugar + vegetable shorteningunstable icing, frustration, and  me violently throwing decorating bags of icing in the freezer when the buttercream roses melt into a sickly pink blob.   

What should’ve taken me a little over an hour took three.  The “roses” were put on the cake and  I managed to get dinner ready exactly five minutes before it was time to leave for church.  I obviously wasn’t going.  I didn’t go as I hadn’t had time to take a shower and the baby, wearing only a saggy diaper, was sitting in the contents of a spilled bag of Marshmallow Pebbles (yuck) and she was covered from head to toe in some unknown substance.

The Horse Cake

I passed the cake on to the equally exasperated husband and he took the rest of the kids to church.  Or so I thought.  I was sitting down eating my cold dinner when #3 and #4 came into the living room.  They immediately started crying when they discovered they’d been left.  #4 boldly proclaimed he was walking to church.  I was SOOOOOO tempted to let him try.

Looking for some peace, I suggested NetFlix, the most wonderful invention EVER, but was deeply disappointed when it wouldn’t work.  I HATE technology!  Instead, I found a stupid, mindless, and sub par movie for them to watch.  And now it’s them in front of the television watching “Planet 51” and being quiet.  I LOVE technology!

Now, as evening approaches and the heat has subsided somewhat, I sit here looking at the garbage dump I call a house.  It has to be cleaned, but I don’t want to do it.  It’s finally getting cool in here and all I want is to take a shower, put on some yoga pants and a comfortable T-shirt, and read.  I wonder which scenario will win out?

The days of wine and roses laugh and run away like a child at play
Through a meadow land toward a closing door
A door marked “nevermore” that wasn’t there before.

The lonely night discloses just a passing breeze filled with memories
Of the golden smile that introduced me to
The days of wine and roses and you

~”The Days of Wine and Roses” lyrics by Johnny Mercer

The LEGO Head Cake Debacle

Cake Iced in Fondant

Daily Foglifter: Rolled fondant or fondant icing is commonly used to decorate wedding cakes. Rolled fondant is rolled out like a pie crust and used to cover the cake.

Remember on Friday when I said the cake I was making for my son would be “super-duper” easy?  Yeah, well, it wasn’t.  It should’ve been.  IF it wasn’t 87 degrees in my house and the air wasn’t dripping with humidity.  These things are not good for fondant, particularly marshmallow fondant.  They’re even worse for my patience and dedication, both of which are required to make fondant do what it’s supposed to do.  Of course, I worked it out.  But the effect was less than what I had hoped.  My son was fine with it, and I guess that’s all that matters.  I took a few pictures to show the process, since some were wondering how it’s done.

Step One:  Bake, Level, Ice, and Stack Cakes

Stacked and Beginning to Ice the Cake

I hate this step.  It’s boring and time-consuming.  If I ever have a cake business, I’m hiring someone to do this part.  This one is crooked and I cheated.  The icing is straight out of a can, though it is Wilton brand, which is NOT your basic Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker.  It’s made for decorating and tastes like buttercream icing instead of…whatever that other stuff tastes like.

Stacked and Iced Cake

Step Two:  Making Marshmallow Fondant Icing

Marshmallows and Water

Melted Marshmallows and Yellow Icing Color

Empty a 16 oz. bag of marshmallows and 2 tbsp. of water into a bowl and nuke it in the microwave. At 30 second intervals, give it a stir until it’s melted. At this point you can add icing color if the fondant will be all one color. It’s far easier to stir it in than knead it in later. Then you add a 2 lb. bag of powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, and mix and knead until it turns into a soft dough. This is murder on the carpal tunnel.
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Powdered Sugar

At this point, if I had made my own icing, there would be 4 lbs. of powdered sugar in the icing alone for this little cake.  Add in the marshmallows and the sugar in the cake mix, and you may become diabetic just thinking about it.

Kneading in the Powdered Sugar

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Step Three:  Rolling Out the Fondant, Picking It Up, and Draping It Over the Cake

Rolling Out the Icing

This is where things went horribly wrong. The sweltering heat and humidity made the stuff sticky. I had to roll it five times because every time I picked it up, it stuck, or ripped, or bubbled. Powdered sugar was everywhere. My kitchen looked like a cocaine factory.  I couldn’t take pictures because it takes two hands and arms to pick up the fondant. By the time I got the fondant on the cake and started making the little thingie on the top, I was too ticked off and hot to care about some stupid pictures.
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Step Four:  The Finished Project

LEGO Mini-Figure Head Cake

Voila!  A LEGO mini-figure head!  The facial features were done by my son.

If you look closely, you can see the bubbles, the rips, and the parts around the bottom that didn’t quite get covered.  I couldn’t trim the dern stuff.  It wanted to stick together.  The top part is sloppy, no sharp edges because the fondant refused to be cut cleanly.  It was not my best effort, but my son was thrilled, especially when we put the candles on his head and lit them on fire.  It looked like flaming hair.  Very nice.

Blowing Out the Flaming Hair

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Warning: The following pictures may be too intense and/or disturbing for some audiences.

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Step Five:  Slice Him Up and Chow Down

Put him out of his misery

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Fudge Marble for Brains

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“I wanted to buy a candle holder, but the store didn’t have one. So I got a cake.” ~Mitch Hedberg

Bye Bye, Birthday Ballyhoo

Daily Foglifter:  April 9 is the 99th day on the Gregorian Calendar.

Tomorrow is my oldest son’s 12th Birthday.  How in the world is that possible?  I mean, he was just born and now he’s almost a teenager.  I was a teenager yesterday  (plus 14 years and 9 days.)  It’s crazy.

Aside from the fact that he makes me feel REALLY old, there are positives to having an older child.

No more themed birthday parties with goodie bags, pinatas, and matching paper plates, napkins, cups, hats, favors, etc.  Seriously, what a racket.

I don’t have to invite every single kid in his class to avoid hurt feelings.  Who wants 20+ kids in their home?

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

Party games are lame.  With the Wii, Nintendo DS, and PS3, who needs Pin the Tail on the Donkey?

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

He still wants the cake made by mom and he’s PROUD of it.  It’s the one day in the year when his mom is quasi-cool, in that dorky-embarrassing-mom-kind-of-way.

Harry Potter's Firebolt

This year, the order is for a LEGO mini-figure head cake, pizza, and a campout in the backyard.

Is this kid great, or what?

  1. The cake is unique and super-duper easy to make.
  2. I don’t have to cook.
  3. The kids will be OUTSIDE.  No commotion inside the house.

It’s almost like it’s MY birthday….

“Even as kids reach adolescence, they need more than ever for us to watch over them. Adolescence is not about letting go. It’s about hanging on during a very bumpy ride.”

~Ron Taffel