We’ve all heard the term “Mommy Guilt” and I am sure most of you have experienced it at one point or another. We all felt that pang of guilt when we had to go back to work and leave our little ones, or that first “date” night after they were born. It’s natural and nothing to feel guilty about. Everyone needs some “me” time once and a while.
From the time my son was 6 months old, I have had a 50/50 custody split with his father. So half the time, I have time to myself to do whatever I want, whenever I want. Sounds perfect, right?? WRONG. I didn’t sign up to be a parent half of time, I signed up to be a Mom 100% of the time. This is something I will never be happy with, but over the years slowly have come to accept.
I begrudge when other parents tell me I am so lucky to have all this free time. Sure, being able to have a nap on a Sunday afternoon is great when he is at his Dad’s or getting groceries alone is definitely less stressful. But I don’t get to pick what days are good days and which days are bad days. So on those bad days, I don’t always get to come home and get the hug and kiss I need to make the world feel right again. I don’t get to choose when I get to and don’t get to see my son. It has been chosen for me. I think if people really thought about it, they would sing a different tune.
Aside from the regular Mommy guilt that comes naturally, I have suffered for years with another kind of Mommy guilt. That guilty feeling for actually trying to enjoy the time that my son is away from me and at his father’s. For years, going out with friends on a Saturday night, although fun at the time, I always felt guilty about being happy and having fun.
I shouldn’t be happy that I don’t have my son with me. I should be sad and missing him. For years, I struggled with this. The last thing I would want my son is to think that I didn’t want or enjoy my time with him. So many a Saturday night, I would sit home thinking that was the right thing to do.
And yes, I know this is crazy talk.
And it took me a lot longer than most but I now understand that I shouldn’t be feeling guilty at all. I am using that time apart from him to make myself a better Mom. I have started using “my” time to do the things that make me happy. For example, I enjoy running. I may not be fast or able to run a marathon but it is just something where I can just put on my headphones and go to my happy place. So now, a couple of times a year, I find runs that occur on weekends my son is with his father and enter them.
I have done a couple with friends and even pushed myself even further out of my comfort zone and did one of those obstacle course runs on my own. Normally, I would never have done a run such as that on my own, but I knew that it was something I needed to do for myself and at the end I was so happy I had pushed myself to do it.
So what does all of this mean? It means that I have realized that I should not feel guilty about enjoying my time that my son isn’t with me. I don’t have a choice in this schedule we have, so I need make the best of it and use this time to make myself a better person. Instead of sitting home on a Saturday watching TV, I go out and do things with friends like snow tubing or bowling, or to a movie that I have been dying to see or even it if is just out for a workout at the gym. I do things for me!
As a result of this, my son is benefiting too. Being a single parent isn’t easy. You have to juggle the 2 parent roles, regardless of how you feel and if you are tired or not. I have done the things that I wanted to do on my time so that when he is with me I am refreshed and ready to take on my Mom role. My focus is on him and the things he needs and wants to do.
I am sure I am not the only single parent out there that feels or has felt this way. Just know that although you may not have wanted this alone time, it is ok to use it to enjoy yourself. There is no need to feel guilty about it.