they don’t get it yet

I teach Pilates one night a week.  I love it.  It’s something I’m passionate about and something I am so grateful to be able to do.  My class is at 7:30PM on Monday evenings and the studio is only a few minutes away from home so I’m able to have dinner with my family and start the bed time routine before I walk out the door.  Usually by the time I leave the house, the baby is already asleep and the two big kids are dressed in their jammies and ready for stories with Daddy.  As far as jobs go, this one is pretty easy on my family.

Or so you would think.

My kids give me a guilt trip every single time I leave the house to teach.  Maybe it’s because they are tired after a long day and they want me to tuck them in.  It’s not a little guilt trip.  It is FULL ON water works most Monday nights by at least one of them.  I can’t stand it.

The other night, Will looked like he was possessed when I was leaving.  He was so mad at me, so upset that I would leave him to teach.  For one hour.  One night of the week.  I explained I had to go – that it is my job and other people are counting on me.  That I would be back soon – I always come back.

Things he yelled at me, while sobbing:

“It’s not your job!  Your job is taking care of ME!!!”

“You don’t HAVE to do it!  You WANT to do it!!!”

“Why do you have to go!!!!????  Don’t go!!!  I NEED YOU HERE!!!”

It broke my heart to walk away from him, but I believe some day he will understand.  I hang onto the hope that some day, in some way, this is actually good for him.  Good for him to see me doing something I love.  Good for him to have a mom who is multi-dimensional, passionate about lots of things, driven to fill her life with things she enjoys and to help others as a teacher.  I believe that though he can’t see it now, he will one day understand that as much as I love teaching and coaching and creating growth charts – I love my children and my family the MOST.  That there is room in my heart for all of my loves and passions and that nothing – and I mean NOTHING – is more important to me in this life than my role as mother to my children.  That my other jobs serve many purposes, possibly the greatest of which is to make me a happier, better more balanced mother.

I can’t explain that to him now in a way that he will understand, at least not in the moment when he is losing his cool and unable to understand anything at all.  I just have to trust that one day, he will get it and he will not only forgive me but be grateful to me for it.

I hate to think of the number of times that I have left my house on my own (whether to teach a class, to go for a run, to get a haircut or have a night out with my girlfriends) and have had to pull a screaming child off my leg, hear one or more of my kids wailing uncontrollably or worse all three of them in unison crying and yelling at me not to go.  It is awful every single time.  It doesn’t get easier.  I feel extremely guilty for it, but in my heart I know I am doing right by them.

When I got to the studio the other night, Robert sent me a text a few minutes before my class started.  He told me not to worry, that the baby was asleep and both big kids had calmed down.  Everyone was happy.  I could relax and let go of the tension in my heart.  I can’t tell you enough how thankful I am for the man I married.  When I walk out the door on nights like that or early in the morning for my runs and races, HE is the one left to deal with the distraught children who want their mommy.  He is amazing in every possible way.  He comforts them.  He cooks for them.  He engages their minds and their creativity.  He supports me – and he shows them that it is important to support the ones we love, even when it would certainly be easier for us not to.

My class was AMAZING on Monday night.  It was the largest class that I have ever taught – a full studio!  My students come from all walks of life.  Everyone has their own imbalances, their own challenges – physically, mentally, emotionally.  They are all unique individuals and I am just so honored to help them along their journey to living pain free, active lives.  To help them connect with their inner strength and do something that is SO good for their bodies, their minds and their spirits.  I left the class feeling renewed – feeling so grateful to teach Pilates.

When I came home, my happiness was evident to my husband.  He asked me how class went (he always does) and then told me that Abby was waiting for me upstairs.  I went upstairs to kiss her good night and she said to me:

“Mommy, why do you have to teach on MONDAY nights!?  I mean, Monday is my library day at school, and it just really upsets me that you have to teach on MY library day.”

Am I the only one that does not see the connection between library day and me teaching?  I asked Abby what about me teaching on Monday night impacted her library day at school.  It just wasn’t clear to me…

“Library day is just really exciting to me!  And then when you teach, you RUIN that for me.”

Oh. my. goodness.  Are you kidding me?  I tried very hard not to smile.  Or drop my jaw to the floor.

I explained to Abby that I was sorry she felt that way, that my teaching ruined her exciting day.  That I hoped she could look at it differently, at least some day.  I told her how happy teaching makes me, and that I hoped she would find something some day that she loves to do the way I love to run and teach Pilates.  And that she would see that when she does, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love her family more than anything in the world, not even close.

After kissing her good night, I walked into my room and took a deep breath.  WHAT a roller coaster ride this mothering thing is.  So many emotional ups and downs.

I KNOW that my kids know I love them.  Often times when I tell them that, they sigh and say “I know, Mommy.  You tell us that every day.”

I also know that my running and coaching and my teaching and my growth chart making all make me who I am, and that these things help me feel happy and balanced.  And I believe that a happy mom is a better mom.  My kids will see that one day.  One day they will understand and they may even be thankful to me for it.  I hope so, anyway.

11 thoughts on “they don’t get it yet

  1. Oh Jess….being a mom is hard. I am not home 2 evenings a week because of my C25K group at the running store. I feel guilty and they make me feel guilty, but like you I just smile and move on. Work is good for me and it is good for them. It is good for them to be with Daddy two nights a week. I give them all that I have 5 nights a week and if 2 nights a week I can go to work and come home fresh then so be it. xoxoxoxo!

  2. How old are they? Mine used to do this but now that they are 5, 6, & 6 they totally get that “mommy has to run”. Hope it gets easier for you! Mommy guilt is tough to bare even when you know you shouldn't feel bad.

  3. I remember the days I felt guilty leaving my son when I went to college classes at night. It's so funny…I was talking to my son (now 30 years old) about the times I would leave him at home to go to school and how upset he would be with me and he DOESN'T remember. I had to laugh because he would throw such a big fuss and now he swears – he doesn't remember ever being upset about me leaving to go to school!!

    So my advice to parents is “don't worry – they won't remember”. 🙂

  4. I remember those days when my 4 children were small and seemed to need me every waking moment of my life…don't get me wrong, I adore my children, really I do…but now they understand that mom needs time to herself in order for her to be the great mom, wife, friend etc, that she is, as well as keeping her sane. They will really appreciate all that you do later on but until then just breathe and relax.

  5. My kids occasionally do this when I drop them off at preschool or leave after church on Sundays to go to work. But the number of times I've now heard from my husband, the sitter or the preschool teachers that they calm down within, oh, 20 seconds of my departure has reassured me that all will be well.

    Plus, like Cynthia above said about her own son, I think back to when I was that age….and I remember VERY little of it and NONE of what I remember has to do with being angry at my mom for leaving me. I do remember missing my dad a lot when he went away for two-week Navy Reserve cruises, and I remember missing my mom when she was gone for a week when my grandfather died. But seriously….that's it!

    So take heart ahead of Mother's Day, Jessica! You are doing the right thing for everyone.

  6. Too cute — I remember being that dramatic over something and now that I am of “being a mom” age (although nowhere close to being a mom), I can totally think back to why my mom did some things that, at your kids age, I didn't get.

  7. I LOVED this post! I am a fellow runner and instructor as well, but teach spinning and sometimes yoga. Luckily my daughter is only 17 months old, so hasn't gotten to the point yet where she freaks out when i leave. I hadn't thought about this topic much until a few years back when I left my sisters house to go for a run and my niece freaked out on me. She was crying and didn't want me to go. I was marathon training at the time, so had to get my run in, but felt so bad. I remember thinking, “how am I going to do this when i am a Mother someday?!?!” Whenever I think about it now I just try to be factual about it, remembering that it really isn't that big of a deal. Plus, by me running and teaching, like you, it makes me happy, which in turn MAKES US BETTER MOTHERS! It is important to take care of ourselves as well as our children.

  8. Oh man! Don't let the mommy guilt get to you! You are setting a great example as you strive to be healthy and teach others to be healthy. You are also teaching your children that life is not all about them.
    Two weeks ago I was on my way to a 5K and my oldest daughter was in the car with me. She's 7 and was planning on running in the 5K too but with our super close family friend who is college-age. I had trained for this 5K and knew I had a good shot at being overall female. But on the way my daughter busted out crying and kept saying she wanted to run with me. I felt terrible and questioned whether or not I should race or just run with her. Was I being selfish? In the end I decided to race and we stuck to the original plan. It turned out that she was fine with jogging with Miss Sarah. I did win the 5K (and a pretty nice gift certificate). It all worked out and I'm glad I didn't give in to the mommy guilt. Sorry to go on and on but this post just really hit home with me. Stay strong and keep doing what you're doing. One day they WILL get it and be so proud of you!!

  9. Being a mommy is so hard. I could feel every bit of your aggravation, love, and confusion in your words. The best way I can put it is this: in the end, putting aside some time for you as a runner and an instructor makes you a better mother. It gives you moments to breathe. It gives you a moment to embrace who you are as a woman…not just as a mother. I haven't come across the moments of “older kid” logic…although my five year old is getting to that point. I can't remember what she said last night, but I do remember instantly thinking, “when did my little Hannah suddenly start thinking so…so…grown up?” Their connections might be off, but they're expressing the way they feel. Just keep reminding yourself that your kids will one day understand. Want a reminder that you're a great mom? Just remember how they say, “I know, Mommy. You tell us that every day.”

  10. I soo get this. For me and my husband it's my blogging/tweeting that he doesn't get. I have been spending a lot of time trying to decide why I do what I do. Why do I blog? Am I doing it because I'm not getting the adequate support I need at home? I don't think that's the case.

    I'm glad you came to the realization you did and that the family is all supporting. It's hard. No doubt. But in the end, we will always have to wear multiple hats.

  11. I love this post, Jess…Obviously not because of what you have to deal with, but b/c it shows me the type of mom you are…I love that you have things that you do that make you happy – and I have used you as an example to my hubby numerous times. It's SO important to get out of the house and do things sans kids every now and then…Your hubby is a great guy – I always feel terrible for mine when my son is clingy with me b/c I don't want him to think that my son does NOT want him…he just has this bond with me right now – tough to explain, but thankfully he gets it – as does yours, obviously.
    I haven't been “there” yet with my son – so I have no words of wisdom…except you are not doing anything wrong. I also think you are right – one day they will get it and appreciate ALL that their mama does =)

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