“Finding the balance of selflessness and selfishness.”

I recently had a play date for my son at the park, and while he was playing with his friend, I was able to have grown up conversations with his mom. I have noticed how vital those conversations and interactions are in my life. As we were talking, our two boys called us over to come push them on the swing or spin them around on “the spiny thing” or even to come play with them. I was about to get up and join them in their play when I heard my friends voice  say, “where are you going?” I responded, “to go and help them play.” She said, “No, they have to learn to play without us.” When she said those words two things went through my mind. 1. She is absolutely right 2. GUILT. The guilt of not coming to my son when he needed me, the guilt of him remembering his mother being too busy to pay attention to him, the guilt of having to make up that moment at a later date. I know this may sound silly to some, but this is the internal trap that I have harbored for way too long.

I openly expressed to her my feelings of guilt in that particular situation and how I was envious of her poise and strength where I was clearly weak. She told me to “release the guilt.” When she spoke those words to me, I could feel my shoulders relax and I felt a soft exhale of my breath. Unbeknownst to her, she gave me permission to relax and think of something other than my child (even the thought of that was hard to release). She gave me permission to enjoy conversation with her, to let go of the element of time, or my cellphone or anything else other than just being in that moment.

As a single mother, I feel as though I participate in much of my sons everyday life which I love, but I do get exhausted and the guilt wears me down. I feel guilty because he does not have other people to play with or talk to all the time like some of his other friends. And although he gets to travel and see the world with me,  I do feel as though he misses out on having close friendships. There are periods of time where the guilt escapes me, but when it enters into my spirit it is overwhelming and sometimes brings me to tears. I feel responsible for absolutely everything! On a daily basis I give him or try to give him all of me, and don’t get me wrong, I love my child (see how I try to explain so I can release my guilt?), but I do get zapped of emotional and physical energy very quickly.

One of the challenges I face this summer is not having much extra help, so it has been difficult to separate work and home.  I have to do much of my work from home or he has to come to the office for a few hours. I try to work around his nap time, but life does not always work around a predictable schedule so again, I am caught up in the cycle of guilt.  I feel that he is seeking and needing my attention and I am not able to give it to him. I do not have to work all the time, but the days that I do, I am wrapped in guilt. I try to take breaks and play with him to show him that I am able to do both, but internally I feel as though its never enough.  I don’t want him to feel as though he grew up with a mother who was always busy. Motherhood in itself is tough, being a single mother is HARD.

I understand the concept of putting myself first, and most of the time it weighs heavier on me than it ever does on him. I’m learning that the only way I can be my best, full, connected, and centered self is if I fill my own cup up first, and the running over  part is what I use to emotionally and physical connect with my child. When my time with him starts to feel like a duty rather than an act of love, I know that I need to get back to my quiet space. And for me, my quiet space is when I can sit in my big comfy chair, have a cup of coffee, feel the crisp breeze of the early morning, hear the quiet chirps of the birds, and see the sunrise forcing itself up over the trees and into the tiny spaces of the living room. That is when I am the most centered, the most connected, and the most ALIVE.

This feeling of guilt has trapped me for quite sometime but, I must admit that in openly writing about it I feel better already. I want to use this platform as a way to grow and connect so, I am reaching out to the mothers: How do I start the process of letting go of guilt?  How do I work on this balance of selflessness and selfishness for myself? At the end of the day I KNOW that I am a good mother, but I want to mother freely. Is that an unrealistic goal? If not, how do I get there? I look forward to connecting with mothers over this topic of guilt, and I hope that we can all grow, learn, and make each other better.


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