Feeling a Little Guilty?
by Emily Coleman
Do you like to read? Do you have a favorite hobby? A favorite TV show? Do you like to have a “date night” with your significant other, or a “girls night out” with all your best friends? Every time you indulge in your favorite activity do you happen to feel a little guilty? More than a little guilt? Well, if you answered yes, I can relate.
I think all parents feel some guilt when they do something for themselves and step out of the parenting role. This can be intensified when you have a child with a visual impairment. I spend a lot of time teaching Eddie and simply being his mom and I often think about the goals yet to be accomplished and how much teaching and parenting sits ahead of us. Really thinking about that “to-do” list could surely trigger a full-out panic attack.
There is one way that I avoid these melt-downs. I do something for me. I admit it openly and honestly. I have a few hobbies that I cherish, especially quilting. I love to read for leisure…that’s right…leisure. This means ignoring my dozens of books about parenting, self-help, or tactics for special-needs children. I set that pile aside and break out my latest “book club” read. Yes, I am in a book club, a quilting group, and occasionally enjoy an evening with my friends.
These activities do take up some of my time that could be devoted to my children, but honestly I think that is OK. My aunt, and close confident, once told me openly that her love of quilting also took away time from her children when they were young. She also said, “I was a better mom because of it.” I completely agree with her.
There are days when I am up to my ears in diapers, therapy goals, phone calls, doctor appointments, teacher conferences, etc. and I feel myself becoming overwhelmed. When all I want to do is either cry or take a nap, I know it is crucial to have some “me time”. Anxiety and stress is not easily hidden from children and as I’m sure most of us know, they pick up on it fast. Pretty soon all our emotions are escalating and nobody is happy.
In the interest of my children, I will stop feeling a little guilty. I will enjoy my favorite things and know that one day I can share those hobbies with my kids. I will keep my own identity for myself, for my children, and even my husband. Frankly, sometimes he’s begging me to go to my sewing room. He also understands that to be a good parent, sometimes we have to step back and do something for ourselves.
Re: Feeling a Little Guilty?Posted by achampine0302 on 4/19/2011 at 1:29 PM
Emily~ Thank you for posting this! Just yesterday I had a day where I needed a BREAK! I didn't get one sadly but it was amazing how GUILTY I felt because of my need. I don't really feel like my husband understands either which makes it harder.... so it was really helpful to me to read your post! Thank you for sharing. Might make me feel just a bit less guilty for needing me time :0)
Re: Feeling a Little Guilty?Posted by achampine0302 on 4/19/2011 at 1:34 PM
Hope you don't mind, but I reposted this on my Facebook. Hoping it might encourage some of my other friends as well :0)
Re: Feeling a Little Guilty?Posted by jonandkristin on 4/21/2011 at 10:37 PM
Great timing! I love to read and play the piano and spend time with my friends, but I always feel guilty. It's good to be reminded that we need to take care of ourselves too!
Re: Feeling a Little Guilty?Posted by lelizabeth on 4/23/2011 at 11:26 AM
This summer my visually impaired teen was ready to start High School and asked if we could look into the School for the Blind in our city. He was frustrated with teachers in Public School who made us both fight for the basics in his IEP (front row seat, large print tests) and large print books that showed up 6 months into the school year. The catch was, the school is a 2 hours trip in each direction (opposite sides of an overcrowded, traffic jammed city). Residential School was the only realistic option. Commuting would have meant no after school activities, or sports and little time to study. The whole experience has been AMAZING for him and neither of us would have it any other way seeing how well it has turned out. Still, since he is an only child and I am left with 4 nights a week to socialize with my significant other and friends or work late, take a nap, write a book..... The guilt is overwhelming. In my own guilty mind I beat myself up for "sending my child away" even though this was his wish and it turned out so well. It still seems that while he is a minor child all of my time and attention should be focused on him (like it always was). The truth is, if I let my guilt (or what perhaps I fear other peoples perception of me as a Mother is) rule my decision making process, my child would be missing out on a truly great and I believe life changing experience. His academics are doing great with much less struggle, he plays sports now for the 1st time in his life, is forging what I can already see will be life long friendships and he's really happy! I need to remember these things when the guilt starts nagging at me. Thanks for the article and the reminder that I can be a great Mom and do other things too!
Re: Feeling a Little Guilty?Posted by EmColeman on 4/25/2011 at 2:57 PM
Thanks lelizabeth for noting that there are many things we feel guilty about, including most decisions we make for our kids. It is hard to not feel constantly judged for educational choices and the like. You know your child best, and can make the best choices for him. There are multiple placement choices for a reason and there are great advantages of attending a school for the blind. There is no doubt that it can be the best placement for many kids with visually impairments.
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