I'm getting used to feeling guilty all of the time.
Guilt because sometimes both my kids need something at the same time, and one of them cries because they don't want to wait.
Guilt because I don't cook elaborate meals for my family like my friends do.
Guilt because my house isn't super clean.
I just had my second child six weeks ago. When I was a mom of one, I worked while my son napped and when he went to bed for the night. It worked out well, and if I had to, I could stay up past midnight, writing.
Enter a newborn. We all know what that means. Crazy hours, up four or five times a night, grabbing sleep when you can. Well, that means saying goodbye to my evening work times. I'm now down to about an hour and a half a day to work, cook dinner, and eat lunch. When my son's awake, he's really good at playing by himself so I can do some light cleaning or cooking. But unfortunately, if I'm cooking or cleaning, I'm not on the floor playing with him. And right now, more than ever, he needs my undivided attention. So I give it to him. And I don't cook.
And then my daughter wakes up and needs to nurse. And I feel bad that I've interrupted my son's playtime to nurse my daughter, because he vocalizes that he's not done playing with me. "I know, I know," I say all day long.
And then, at night, I feel guilty because my son doesn't call for me anymore. He calls for his dad, because since the last few weeks of my pregnancy, my husband has handled bedtime. Sometimes, during bedtime I'm nursing the baby. Sometimes I'm cleaning up. Sometimes I sneak in for a story, or nurse the baby in my son's room while he gets ready to sleep.
But the problem is, I never feel fully present with either of them. If I'm nursing my daughter and my son's awake, I know he wants to play with me and he's impatiently waiting for me to be done. If I'm playing with my son, I'm wondering how many more minutes we'll get before my daughter wakes and needs to nurse. And sometimes, I just want to snuggle my baby girl, without other distractions. And sometimes I just want to cuddle in bed with my son, like we used to.
I love having two children. I love how full and cozy my home feels right now. But the guilt is always there.
This past weekend we went to a park. I was standing by the stroller and my husband was climbing the jungle gym with my son. And then, all of a sudden, I realized something. I wasn't pregnant and I'm pretty much done recovering from my c-section. I could finally play. I climbed up the equipment and my son and I slid down two different slides at the same time. "Again, Mommy!" he shouted, and we did it again and again and again while my daughter slept in her stroller a few feet away. It was the first time, in too long of a time, that I didn't feel guilty.
I wonder if the guilt will pass as I learn to balance the needs of my two children. But maybe it's not just a phase. Maybe this is the beginning of "mommy guilt." And maybe I'm lucky, because it's taken me until now to really feel it.
Sarahlynne loves writing for Yahoo! Shine as a Parenting Guru. She's also the co-creator of merelymothers.com, a website that discusses all things motherhood, from parenting philosophies to mom fashion.