I missed the very first time my 6-year-old daughter scored a goal.
She played hockey for 7 months last season, and I was at every single game. I enjoy watching her have fun. I love seeing her master new skills. Her little feet carry her so quickly across the ice. Her smile permeates through the cage on her helmet.
I like being there.
Last week, I had to stay home while her little sisters slept in. My husband took her to her early morning game. And she scored.
I got the text from my husband with multiple exclamation marks to emphasize his excitement. As I stood alone in our quiet kitchen, a feeling of disappointment washed over me. I wasn’t there to jump up and down with delight. I wasn’t there when she looked up into the stands. She didn’t hear my ridiculously high-pitched screaming because I was just so proud.
I wasn’t there.
This may have been the first time I felt really weighed down by parenting.
I just can’t do it all.
As parents, we want to be there. We want our kids to know we see them and hear them. They’re valued. They’re important. But we also have to take care of their siblings. We have to focus on our careers. We have to get the laundry done. We have to feed our families unprocessed, organic, well-balanced meals. We have to make time for date nights.
We have to make sure our kids are getting outside enough. We aren’t hovering too much. But we also have to make sure they’re being watched and are well-behaved. We have doctor appointments to take them to. Dentist appointments. Birthday parties. Extra-curricular activities. Kindergarten graduations and recitals and summer concerts.
We have to manage guilt. Over what we feed them. How much they’re learning. How they spend their free time. If they play enough. What school they go to. What they’ll do all summer long. If they have friends. If they’re happy.
We don’t always pay attention to all of the pressure. But there’s generally some little voice in the back of our heads reminding us about the latest thing we should be paying attention to. Wagging a finger at us and reminding us to enjoy it all. To soak it all up. Oh, but it’s also okay to find it hard, too – just don’t be too negative about it. And don’t be too ‘rainbows and unicorns’, either. Nobody likes that.
So, I give in. I just can’t do it all.
There will be times I miss out on things. I won’t like it, but it will happen. And I have to allow myself to be okay with it or I won’t survive.
So I’m allowing myself to let go of some of the guilt.
I’m allowing myself to ask for help. Lots of it. And not feel bad when I still mess up.
I’m allowing myself to need my Mom. My friends. My husband. Reassurance. Guidance.
I’m allowing myself to do good enough for today and then move on to tomorrow.
I’m allowing myself to be content. To say no. To say yes sometimes. To relax. To care less about keeping up with the other schoolyard moms. To let my hair go grey. To eat that cookie. To drink wine. To be okay with me. To let go.
I am a mom of young kids and I felt guilty. I messed up. I missed out. But I realize I can’t do it all.
And tomorrow’s another day.