Monday is my gym day. Yet here I am this fine Monday morning, not at the gym.
Why am I not at the gym? Well, the official answer is that my back hurts (which is true. I must have slept in some funky position). But the unofficial answer is that I really, REALLY didn’t feel like going today. Even before I got up and realized that my back was hurting, I was lying in bed thinking, “UGH, I’m SO not in the mood for the gym today.”
So here I am, at home today. Not at the gym. And feeling super guilty about it.
But here’s the thing: no matter what I’m doing or not doing, I’m always feeling guilty about that other thing that I should be doing instead. For example, when I do make it to the gym, most of the time I’m thinking of the stuff that needs attention at home. When I’m home doing laundry and cleaning, I’m thinking of the blog post I’m not writing or the business I’m not drumming up for myself. When I’m blogging or working on a project for a client, I’m thinking about the fact that I’m not at the gym working out, giving my heart some love.
And that’s when the kids are at school. When they’re home, I feel all sorts of guilt about what I should be doing with them that I’m not, like taking them to the library or engaging them in some sort of cerebral activity, like a science project or something.
I can’t win. My mom guilt grabs hold and takes over.
But I know it’s not just me. A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with my kids’ yoga instructor. She’d just come off a weeklong vacation and I asked her if she enjoyed herself. Her response: “Yes it was fun, but I had trouble relaxing. I kept thinking of all the things I should have been doing instead.”
I totally get that. Even on vacation, I always find myself itching to clean the hotel room or check email or engaging in some sort of physical, non-lazy activity.
When do moms get to relax? For me, the only time I do not feel guilty about relaxing is after the kids go to bed at night.
But I know it’s self-inflicted. It’s not my husband who makes me feel guilty. It’s not my kids. It’s not my yoga mat or the treadmill. It’s me.
My husband works very hard at his job. But when he gets home, he has no problem vegging out on the couch and tuning into a little Sports Center. On the weekend, he has no problem taking five hours out of his day to golf. He has no problem coming home from golf and sitting on the back patio with a beer.
But he’s not a mom.
There’s something about being a mom that makes us think we always need to be on. Working moms feel the need to come home from work and clean the house. Work at home moms feel the need to throw in a load of laundry while taking conference calls. Stay at home moms feel the need to avoid sitting down at all cost, unless it’s to pee. Why can’t we let ourselves off the hook once in a while?
Cause we’re moms. And we feel the weight of the world (or at least of our families) on our shoulders. There’s something in us that thinks that if we rest for a minute, all will fall apart. And thus when we do, the mom guilt worms its way in.
So what’s a mom to do? My plan: I will try to recognize that I do plenty. I will try to cut myself some slack and remember that I can’t be all things at once. When I make a choice to do (or not do) something, I will try to make peace with that choice and move on, rather than beating myself up over it.
Will this all be enough to loosen the grip my guilt has on me? Time will tell, but I sure hope so.
So, I’m not at the gym. It’s the choice I made today. Today I chose to commit to my house, my out-of-control load of laundry and my freelance work. Maybe tomorrow I’ll commit to my heart. But if I don’t, I will try to be okay with that.