Mom guilt happens in every generationI was reading the article “What Would My Mom Do? (Drink Tab and Lock Us Outside)” and started to laugh out loud!  My kids would tell you that one of their strongest memories of childhood was that I put them outside and locked the door.  I can tell you that I don’t feel guilty about having them play outside for a while — I have many more opportunities to find my mom guilt.

I grew up in the 60’s and we were never in the house when it was light outside.  Daytime television was forbidden except for our morning Jack LaLanne exercise show.  The thing was, we never wanted to be in the house during the day.  That was punishment.  Everything was happening outside in our neighborhood.

My Grandmother’s Guilt

Generations of moms have suffered mom guilt.  The reasons are varied and reflect the times they lived in.   My grandmothers raised their children through the depression of the 30’s and 40’s.  Their mom guilt was basic — food and shelter for their children.   Jobs were lost, homes were lost and meals were scarce.  Children took on the task of helping their parents and some even wrote letters to the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, to help their families.   I know my own mother at age 3 was malnourished.  My grandmother was sent from Kansas to California to try and start a life for herself, her son and her daughter (my mom).  She was a divorced woman who had married at 14 and never finished school.  I can’t imagine her worry and guilt about her children’s lives.  She never lived a day without remembering her hard times and what she put her kids through to survive.

My father’s mother was a homemaker who had moved from Chicago to California with her husband and five children.  During the depths of the depression, her sister died in childbirth and her surviving four children were sent to live with my grandmother.  On my grandfather’s bus driver salary, they raised nine children.  My father always said that my grandmother knew how to stretch a meal better than anyone.  They were able to survive this tough time and I often wonder what her day to day life was like.  Luckily, she did have her mother to help her with the house and the kids.  Her heart was dealt a crushing blow, though, when one of her children, a fourteen year old daughter, was killed in an automobile accident.  My grandmother never got over her guilt that she could have done more to keep her from riding in that car.

My Mother’s Guilt

My own mother was happily mothering us in the 50’s but the 60’s brought on new ideas of the possibility of a career outside of the home.  She was caught between two generations of thought on what her life should be.  The happy mother of my youth up to age 10 was slowly disappearing as I entered my teen years.  She was restless and felt that life had more to offer her.  The days of taking us to the park for a picnic and baseball turned into us watching her sink into the couch and listen to music for hours.  She left our family when I was 18 years old and has never stopped searching for herself.   She has lived in guilt for leaving her children.  I have always felt that her mom guilt ran deep and rather than face it and repair it, she just disappeared.

My Guilt

Now there is me and all the new reasons to think about mom guilt.   I am a divorced mom and therefore am saturated with lifelong guilt about what the breaking apart of the family has done to my kids. I have felt guilty when staying home with the kids and guilty if I am working outside the home (yes, I have done both).  With all my choices, thanks to previous generations, there is never a perfect lifestyle to suit all of our needs. I did always set a goal to be home in the afternoons when the kids entered Junior High.  I did not want our house to be the hangout for kids who were looking for something to do with no supervision.  I feel good about that choice and made it happen —  BUT — we never took enough vacations, spent too much of our extra money fixing up the house,  didn’t teach them enough responsibility through chores, wasn’t training them enough to be financially independent and my biggest regret of all is that we just did not have enough fun in our lives.

My Daughter’s Guilt

Now that my daughters are mothers I hear their woes of guilt.  They are both career women and worry about their kids not having enough of them.  Proof that mother guilt has been going on since I have been alive and there seems to be no end to it anytime soon.  No matter what the family circumstance, we take this role very personally and to our hearts.

Fun Could Be The Solution

All I can offer is the idea that planning fun in each week might help.  Laughing and remembering play is what my own kids reminisce about. Days at the park, water fights, chasing waves at the beach — easy, simple and free.  The one thing I regret is that we did not have more play time.  I needed the play as much as the kids.  Uh oh — here comes that mother guilt again —

Let’s think of ways to ease our mother guilt and not pass it on to the next generation.  Sign Up Here to receive new family ideas and stories sent directly to your inbox.  Once you have signed up for my weekly emails, you will not only get my family tips, ideas and my own personal family stories but also a FREE ONE HOUR CONSULTATION with me to share ideas on your own family and how best to create a home where everyone contributes, laughs and is a part of the organizational process that not only teaches but bonds you together.  




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