Emotionally, the fall and winter months are difficult, and sometimes being around family members can make things even worse. Whether secretly intentional or the result of innocent cluelessness, there are questions your own parents will ask that'll make you feel all the mom guilt. You know, the guilt you feel all the damn time anyway and without your parents' help. I guess that's just part of their job, though. They question the choices you make, even if it's obvious they're the right ones, because they're probably not the same choices they've made for themselves. Parents, right?!
Before I moved my family to a different state, it was relatively easy to shake off any questions or concerns my parents posed in regards to my parenting. Maybe it's because I felt more confident, less vulnerable, and knew that whatever I was doing was working. My kids are pretty great, and because I'm with them all the time I consider their greatness to be a reflection of my hard work. But then we moved, and every little decision seemed more important than ever before. It was no longer just about keeping our normal routines so everyone's comfortable. Instead, it was about keeping my family afloat during a time of significant change. And now, well, I feel defective in some way. Like no matter what I do or how hard I try, I'll inevitably mess up. And while I know making mistakes is part of parenting, the guilt that accompanies even my perceived failures is something I constantly struggle with.
So now, when my parents asks certain questions about my kids and our new lives in this new home in this new state, I feel all the mom guilt imaginable. I'm in such a raw space emotionally (because hey, it's also the end of the year) that I can't handle even constructive criticism right now. So with that in mind, and because knowing what's coming your way is a great way to protect yourself and your mental health, here are the questions parents ask that make us less-seasoned mothers feel guilty as hell:
"How Are The Kids Adjusting?"
For my family, this is the question of the year. My partner and I knew moving would be difficult — giving up everything you know and love for something new is never easy — but we did what we thought would be best.
But the move has been extremely difficult, and as a parent who made a decision that has essentially made things harder on my kids, I'm already feeling guilty. So when my parents ask how my 6- and 11-year-old are adjusting, I feel my heart sink. Because the truth is, even seven months later, they're not really adjusting at all. So, you know, thanks for asking.
"Is Everyone Getting Enough Sleep?"
I mean, I certainly try to keep my kids on a fairly tight bedtime routine but again, since the move, everything's gone to hell. Even my quality of sleep has suffered, which then turns into a tired day, followed by another crap night of sleep. It's a vicious cycle that I feel infinitely guilty about.
And honestly, is anyone really getting enough sleep these days?
"How Are They Doing In School?"
Taking my kids from their friends at one school and putting them in a different school in another state didn't come without consequences. My 6-year-old seems to have adjusted OK. He's pretty content anywhere doing anything with little complaint. My 11-year-old is another story, though. Not only did we change everything at a critical time in her life, but she's had issues with kids at school not being so nice, the curriculum has been difficult for her, and her self-esteem is plummeting. My guilt over how this move affected her is beyond anything I can verbalize.
And truly, I think asking how the kids are doing in school is less about the children and more about me, as their parent. If they're not doing well or getting good grades, it's seen as a reflection of my parenting choices. In the end, I feel like it all comes down to me.
"Are You All Going To Visit Anytime Soon?"
My kids used to spend a lot of time with my mom and stepdad. And during those visits I was able to get a lot of things accomplished, spend time with my partner alone, and simply catch my breath. But now things are different. So asking when I will be able to visit not only reminds me of the times when I could relax, but makes me feel like I've done something to hurt my parents, too. Ugh.
"Have They Played With The Toys We Bought?"
I want to say yes. And in the case of my son, it's usually true. He plays with everything. My daughter gets bored so easily, though, so it's hard to keep track of her ever-changing interests. Still, if my parents buy something and I know they're not playing with it, I definitely feel guilty about the money they've probably wasted.
"Have They Made Any Friends?"
This is another loaded question that really brings on the mom guilt. The easy answer is they have made new friends. The more complicated answer is that some of those friends aren't very nice and make my kids feel terrible. They also miss their old friends so much some days, it's all I can do to get them to go to school.
"Are They Eating Well?"
Define "eating well." I do my best to model healthy nutrition and self-care, but I'm not perfect. I don't have the time to make extravagant meals, the money to buy completely organic, or the willpower to deny my children a Happy Meal every now and then and when I'm too damn busy to cook something simple. Do I feel guilty about those times? Absolutely. Will it happen again? Likely.
"What Are They Into These Days?"
I feel bad that I can't ever pinpoint my daughter's interests until they've passed, but she moves on so suddenly and without notice, it's hard to stay on top of it. I wish I knew, and to be honest, I don't think too much about it. Then my parents ask what she likes and wonders (out loud) why I don't know my own child.
"What Are You Doing This Weekend?"
I have zero plans. It's pretty hilarious that we moved to a place full of things to do, but those things cost money that I don't have to spend. So I feel pretty guilty that I can't take my kids out on adventures or to different places to experience different things, and asking about my non-existent plans only makes it worse.
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