I heard her screaming as I slowly opened the back door – our 1-year-old currently unimpressed with the idea of bedtime. It was 10 pm Thursday and clearly her dad was reinforcing the “cry it out method.” I went into mom-mode, quickly slipped off my Adidas sneakers, took off my blazer and hustled up the steps.
As I grabbed her out of her crib, eyeing her brother snuggled in our bed next door, Farmer let out a huge sigh and rolling over smugly said, “well if someone wouldn’t shut the door so loud so late.”
And there it was – mom guilt.
I felt my face get warm, my heart rate increase and held back tears of frustration as I carried her downstairs with me. Walking through the kitchen, my shoulders sunk at the sight of dinner still on the counter, dishes everywhere and chairs pulled out at the table.
Tears finally dropped as I held my tired girl in one arm while using the other to clear enough space on the toy-covered floor for spreading out a blanket.
Laying down next to her, still in my work clothes, I rubbed her back and thought of all the reasons I should have been home earlier: my endless mental to do list. There were breathing treatments to get done, vocab words to study, dinner, baths, laundry, bedtime routines.
As the thought of these tasks piled on the guilt from one side, the other side of my heart kept thinking, “he’s right, I should have been home earlier. I shouldn’t have asked for him to take on all of this. He had a long day at work too, I shouldn’t have taken the extra time.”
The extra time for a Cameras+Cocktails class. The extra 3 hours to learn how to capture the memories flying by so fast these days. The extra 180 minutes to ensure these moments have a place in our home forever. The extra time to push myself to be a better mom for them – one who will have photos for their senior picture boards and their wedding slideshows.
I had spent the day convincing myself to go. After the morning started with a panicked realization it was our day for 2nd grade snacks and forgetting to send diapers to the sitter, I was late for work. I shuffled through a day full of meetings, not a trace of makeup on thanks to our last-minute snack packing.
By 5 pm the last thing I wanted to do was learn. Or show up at an event alone. Or take my freshly-purchased camera out of the box where I knew most others would be armed with experience and ready to shoot.
But as moms we also know that sometimes you have to push through and just show up. Once I had arrived, I was so glad I did until I walked back through our door.
The truth is, though, Farmer is an incredible dad totally capable of helping and honestly much better with the kids than I am most of the time. I have no doubt they had a great night and the kids loved getting his undivided attention – when I’m sure he had no time for Twitter or Snapchat or taking business calls.
With the busy schedule of planting season just around the corner, it may have been one of the few times they will get 100% of him before he begins pulling his own 10 pm nights and leaving the house before their little eyes are awake.
It was probably a night all three of them needed, even deserved. And I know deep down he was snarky out of exhaustion after a crazy day of work, kiddos and a screaming baby … much the way I am most days.
But somewhere in that mom guilt, we forget these realities. We forget there are good reasons for taking a break from mom life to refill our empty heart cups. We forget wonderful and unexpected things happen from becoming who we are meant to be as women so we can become all we were meant to be as moms.
And Saturday morning, as we walked into the gym for youth basketball – one kid shooting hoops on the hardwood and the other escaping quickly from Farmer in front of a full crowd – I knew I had made the right decision in coming home late Thursday. I saw the moments I’ll capture in the years to come. I gave that mom guilt a kiss goodbye.
And I put an alarm in my phone for next week to remember to bring the camera.