Weak and Guilty

My stomach hurts a lot today, but I haven’t tossed my cookies since yesterday afternoon and I’ve even eaten some dry bread and soda crackers.


Oh, and 7-up, glorious 7-up.

Yesterday I called the husband to leave work and go retrieve the boy.

He was happy to do it for me, but his car overheated on the way there and created a whole new dimension of chaos for our afternoon.

I dragged my sorry self out of bed and climbed into the van in my jammies and slippers to pick up husband and then drive him to the school to get the boy.  I sunk down in the car seat with my hand over my face to hide from the usual crowd of other moms while husband walked into the office.  We were late, but the little boy seemed fine.

Today, because of the busted car mostly, husband didn’t go to work.  Thank God.

He drove the boy to school, is currently cleaning out my van, and he will pick up the boy at the end of the day.  Somewhere in between, he will deal with his Mazda, which AAA towed away last night.  I love my husband.

I am really weak today and my stomach and back muscles are sore.  It has been a loooong looong time since I was knocked over like this.  I hope no one else gets it, whatever “it” is.

This morning I tried to go through a mountain of e-mail messages and found myself again possessed by guilt over the little boy’s classroom newsletter.  The teacher e-mails it every week.  She always includes a paragraph about homework and her gratitude for the parents who work with their kids to get in back in when it’s due.

We don’t turn in homework.  It’s not for lack of trying.  We work on it everyday.  The little boy knows the routine after school and he is always somewhat cooperative, but it’s a challenge to get the whole packet finished.  We almost never do.

There are certain elements he just doesn’t like and will not work on.  It’s frustrating for me.  I’ve tried everything to motivate him, but everyday he reaches a point of fatigue with it that is painful to witness.

It kind of makes me sad that the few hours I get with him are filled with something so stressful for us both.  He’s not like other kids and I am loathe to force that standard on our family.  So, yeah, we never turn in the homework.

I want him to do well academically.  I really do, but I also want him to have as many moments of happiness and unpressured, gleeful childhood as possible.  School tires him out.  He needs to unwind and step away from it when he’s home.

That e-mail from the teacher also includes the general school newsletter.  There is a calendar with information about the Valentine’s Day dance and sales on school t-shirts and upcoming fundraisers at restaurants or bookstores.  There is also a list of PTA meetings and events in need of parent volunteers.  We don’t do that either.

Yesterday, I met the mom of another child in my son’s class.  She is a teacher herself and had taken the day off to spend time with her son.  I guess she was feeling a little bit out of the daily loop.

We chatted for a few minutes (before I knew I was so sick) and discussed getting special ed parents more involved in the school.  For some reason, that stressed me out.

I already feel that I am painted thin.  It takes everything out of me to get my son there each day, to make sure he has a good aide and to see that he can survive any changes to his routine.  I leave the school in tears on a regular basis and I am always tired.  I don’t see myself getting more involved.

My son has a good routine right now.  He thrives on it and I have no interest in changing it or taking time away from him to accommodate curriculum reviews, special ed resource meetings, or PTA functions.  We don’t go to dances or art nights or sporting events because my son gets in the tub at 5:45 p.m.  It works for us.  It works for him.

But I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel guilt over all of this.  I do.  I wish I could be that mom – the one who runs the book fair and keeps the volunteer list active and sells spirit wear in front of the flagpole on Fridays.

Before we had our son, I just assumed I would be the mom with the open door and the endless connections to insider district secrets.

I also thought all of the neighborhood kids would be at my dinner table and lounging on my couch and playing with my board games and reading my books.  That’s how it was when I grew up.

We always had extra kids in our house and my mom volunteered and made cupcakes and was at the school a lot.  We went to all of the events and we knew everybody there.

That’s just not how things are for me and my son and our family.  We are living a completely different reality from that.  We don’t really know our neighbors and I couldn’t tell you the name of the school’s PTA president if my life depended on it.  Our focus is very singular.

Being home today, weak and useless, gets me thinking about the things I can’t do, the things I don’t do.  My head is in that newsletter, feeling guilt for what I’m not involved in.  I need to shake that off.  I need to let myself be something that works for my family and not something that meets a standard set by someone else.  Right?

Maybe I should just return the homework half finished on Monday.

What do you think?

P.S.  Happy Thursday!


11 thoughts on “Weak and Guilty

  1. Hi Becky–I wish I could give you a BIG hug and tell you that you are doing the all the right things for your family! You are exactly where you should be. There is no reason that you should be compelled to be on any committees at school or participating in things that will just make your life feel (more) crazy. I so get the guilt thing…I feel it sometimes because I work full-time. But I am trying to be more gentle with myself–and say no when I need to. We are all doing the best we can! 🙂 Love you! Erin

  2. Don’t fall for the lure/guilt of the PTA. I did and volunteered to be the Financial Chair. I was told it wouldn’t involve too much work, easy.

    I hate that it’s one more thing on my overly long ‘to do’ list. Now, I feel guilty I can’t get the deposits done in a more timely fashion. I have to get ‘nudges’ about the monthly report I’m supposed to have in. In fact, I have 5 deposits and the January report to do now. Yuck!

    Don’t give in to those guilty voices. Stay away from the PTA ( I think it’s a type of cult). Try to reconcile the images of what you assumed the perfect mother would be and what your reality is. . .you ARE the perfect mother for your family. No guilt!

  3. I feel that you should do what’s right for you and your family. Sometimes we all have these idealistic stereotypes in our minds and for the longest time we find ourselves struggling to measure up. But for what? These things are not that important. You and your family are. Be true and real to each other and let others accept you, or not, for it. One suggestion though. Turn in the homework regardless…

  4. Hi Becky: I am honored to be one of the “extra kids” you speak of. Remember Luna? I was humiliated at a B-day party for Bill or Greg when I almost missed the wall – never mind the donkey – on a pin the tail game.

    Personally, I would hand in whatever the boy is able to accomplish regarding homework. Perhaps they’ll think they are teaching the boy vicariously through you?

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