Well apparently my children must have gotten the memo that due to my partnership this year we won’t be able to take our annual family vacation. To compensate for this lack of travel, they have been taking me on “trips” of their own this past week…GUILT TRIPS.
Every Mom has to deal with guilt trips. I think children are born with the inherent talent to pluck at their parents’ heartstrings if something doesn’t go their way. Some parents are really good about not letting their children take them on these trips...I on other hand, not only let them take me on these trips... I ride shotgun.
It all started Monday. My daughter went off to pre-school. I had a very busy day of meetings, motion writing, and L’s 9 month doctor appointment. My day was so packed that I didn’t get a chance to check my office messages until 4:00 p.m.. I dialed my voicemail and suddenly heard the last voice I wanted to hear that day… “Mandi this is J’s teacher, she says her eye hurts, she’s been crying saying she wants to come home”. I hung up the phone in a panic, the message came in at 11:00 a.m.. Had they been trying to reach me all day? I grabbed my cell phone…why didn’t they call me on the cell? I called my husband, no they didn’t call there. I was livid. See I’m that kind of Mom that no matter what my child says I will be right there to pick them up. I don’t want my kids to be those kids we all knew in grade school, the ones who sat in the school nurse’s office green from throwing up and clutching a garbage can while they waited forever for their parents to come. I grabbed my keys and ran out of my office. As I drove to the daycare I was so upset, so nervous. Not because I was concerned that J was really hurt, since I knew she was just developing a stye on her eyelid, but rather I was terrified what J would say when I got there.
J’s nickname in my house is Diva….and for good reason. She is the queen of the guilt trip. The nurse at the doctor’s office who gave her a shot, her swim teacher that made her go under water, her brother who lost a Barbie shoe…all victims to the wrath of the Diva when something does not go her way. My daughter could go toe to toe with the best Hollywood actress. And I can’t blame her for this personality trait…as I am a notorious drama queen.
I ran into the daycare center. As I ran into the room, J didn’t notice me at first. She was sitting in the book corner reading and smiling. She was fine. But the moment she saw me…her lip trembled and the crocodile tears went a flowing: “Mommy, my teachers couldn’t find you”. “Mommy I wanted to go home”. “Mommy my eye is falling out”. I tried to ignore the comments…but then came the interrogation… “Where were you Mommy? Why didn’t you come get me? Why did you make me stay here?”. I didn’t make eye contact with her as I buttoned her coat. I felt horrible. Sure it wasn’t my fault as I didn’t get the call, but she didn't know they didn't call my cell, she just knew I didn’t come.
Tuesday was Mr. H’s turn at taking me on my trip. I got up in the morning and got ready for work. “Mommy, you staying home with me?” H said as I curled my hair. He didn’t even let me answer, ran into his room, and came back carrying two of his favorite Matchbox cars. “Let’s race Momma…you can have THIS car”. Again without trying to make eye contact like a convicted criminal: “Umm honey, Mommy has to go to work”. And just like his sister the day before him…crocodile tears soon followed. “No Mommy please don’t go. You’re my best friend. Don’t you want to play?” Sure H did not put the Academy Award winning effort his sister did the day before, but let's just say it was worth a Daytime Emmy. The look in his eyes as I went out the door ruined my whole day.
Wednesday it was back to J’s turn. I had to go to Des Moines for a day of depositions. I had to be there by 10:00 a.m. and so I was up before the sun and out the door by 6:30 a.m. My family was fast asleep when I left. As I sang to my I-Pod on my way to Des Moines, my husband called me: “J was upset you didn’t give her a hug this morning before you left”. Thankfully traveling down interstate 80 I missed the crocodile tears and dramatics. But I still felt horrible.
Thursday, even my youngest took a turn at his version of a guilt trip. L at 9 months old is the best baby you will ever meet, but he is developing his separation anxiety. Tonight when I came home from work I was in a mad dash to get dinner on the table, kids fed, and baths done. Every time I set him down and walked out of the room, L would squinch up his face and let out a huge cry. And these were no crocodile tears as I wiped away real tears every time I had to run into the next room to referee a “I had it first” fight or check to make sure I didn’t burn dinner. Every time I walked away and heard the tears…I felt terrible.
As a Mom I know guilt is just another bitter pill I have to swallow every day. I wish I was the kind of person that could just let the water roll off my back when these things come up. But I’m not. I genuinely want to be the best Mom in the world to my kids. When I fall from their graces, I feel horrible, even though in about 4.2 seconds after they cry to me they have forgotten why they were sad. Hopefully my children’s passport on guilt trips will run out before too long….not sure if I can take anymore this week!