Guilt & the Agony of Scholarly Life

My home ofice

Originally a personal journal entry recorded December 14, 2014

I knew this was coming.

As a full-time student, part-time teacher, and full-time mom things don’t always go smoothly. Transitioning from student, teacher, and mom is agonizing. But it’s not just the transitions, it’s the overwhelming guilt.

First, the mom guilt

These days, I seem to have less time to devote to what’s going on at my kids’ schools. Yet I just don’t seem to care. The other moms are collaborating with one another, deciding which parent is going to bring treats for the class Christmas party, excitedly preparing Pinterest-worthy crafts and goodies for each child; these moms arrive on party day dressed up, camera phones at the ready, taking picture after picture to be posted immediately on Facebook. I feel inadequate, because I not only no longer have time to do these things and don’t feel to have time time help out, in actuality I really would rather be left off of the email distribution lists while they gleefully organize these events.

In the few evenings when I’m home I don’t want to help my kids with their homework, get them dressed for taekwondo, or have them fed and in bed before 8:30. I’d rather just snuggle with my babies, watch cartoons, and let them play outside during the precious few hours that I have with them. It doesn’t feel like my personality has changed all that much, but on the outside I probably look like a really bad mom. This perception used to bother me, but I don’t really care enough to do better. The not caring is what bothers me. This creates an enormous amount of guilt.

Then there’s the wife guilt

The old me used to cringe at even the thought of my husband being disappointed in me. Lately, though, I have just become numb to his frustrated comments and criticisms. After feeling the sting of his words frequently enough, they’ve stopped bothering me, and that bothers me. I know that I should be concerned, but come on. I’m already completely stressed out about school and work, and at this point the chances are quite good that I’m just willing to brush these criticisms away, go to bed, and deal with any and all personal home problems in the morning. Besides, that’s what chardonnay is for, something to help me shut out the noise in my head, the voices that are screaming that I should be worried about being a disappointment. But I’m not.

Housework guilt

My house is usually utterly trashed, based on my usual standards. I honestly don’t want to get out of bed in the morning and face the chaos piling up around me. I detest being at home during the day, when I could be thirty miles away at my desk able to actually concentrate on work. At my desk I feel productive, successful at something. I should treasure the days when I get to work from home, but work isn’t even an option. And weekends are nightmarish. No rest, no family fun, just housework and laundry the entire time. Suck.

Money guilt

How on earth could this be my biggest source of guilt? But there it is. I am so tired of being broke. I haven’t had a full-time job in almost two years. I want my vacations back! I want to be able to shop online for clothes any time I want. And I want dinner at Mi Tierra with an extra-large margarita. Chicken enchiladas with mole. Mariachis.

Peer guilt

For the most part, Facebook just pisses me off. Online and offline, people say and repeat the most hateful, selfish, and insensitive things about others. I now have little time or patience for stupidity and ignorance. Yet I’m too gutless to contradict or correct these insensitive actions. That’s easy when it’s online stupidity, but more difficult when I’m in an actual face-to-face social situation. You can read my face like a book, it’s written all over that I am annoyed, I don’t agree, can I please just go home now? I don’t care at all about how I present myself in public anymore; I don’t tiptoe in an effort to be ultra-polite. This is very unlike the old Kelli, and that bothers me a little. But just a little.

Balance

My personality is changing, but for good or worse? I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. I had always been seen as a push-over, too nice. Sweet, quiet Kelli. Maybe it is for the better. Those people who I had considered “peers,” I don’t have any patience for them anymore. But all of this guilt is tied to it, proving that no matter how great things may be going at school and at work, these personal life stresses play into my overall happiness. I know that I am changing mostly for the better, but this change will affect not only my identity but will the identities of my family. And through my family I will still need to navigate my social world from day-to-day interactions here at home.

I need to find a balance, but it’s so difficult to find.

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