Last week I completely broke down at an airport ticket counter in Detroit. I’d been waiting to board my flight, which connected to Chicago and then home to San Diego, but the Chicago connection kept getting further delayed. Finally the flight attendant announced that all of us with connections needed to come see her. As I saw her give a hotel voucher to the man in line in front of me, cold fear started to drip through my veins.
I had to get home that night. I’d only just returned home from a business trip when this particular trip had suddenly come about—I’d needed to travel for a family funeral. My husband was home with our two children, all of them depending on my getting home that night so my husband could get back to work and I could get the boys to school and lessons and practice. I WANTED nothing more than to be home to drive my sons to soccer practice. After so many days away nothing sounded more appealing.
And then it was my turn at the counter and the flight attendant said flatly, “I’ve checked all the other airlines and there’s no way you’re getting anywhere west tonight.” Then I was the one getting handed a hotel voucher.
I don’t want to stay in the Wyndham Garden Hotel, I wanted to scream like a two-year-old. I want to go home!!!
“I have to get home tonight,” I told her again. “Please!” I’m sure she could hear the rising desperation in my voice, but there was nothing she could do but rebook me for the next morning. I called my husband in an apologetic tear-filled panic. In a daze I walked out of the airport to the shuttle line and then turned back and got in line at the ticket counter to try one last time. Surely SOMEONE could get me to LA or even Denver. Somewhere closer to home. After all, it was only 7 pm. But again, there was nothing.
I really wasn’t getting home.
I just wanted to lay my head down on that counter and sob. That poor kind flight attendant; I got the feeling she would have flown me there herself if she could have. I’m not sure why I lost it so completely. I think I was still so sad about my grandmother. But I was also filled with terrible guilt over not being there for my children and my husband having to take up the slack and miss another day of work. He hadn’t and wouldn’t say a word, but I knew what a hardship it was for him. The delay wasn’t my fault, but the other days he’d missed covering for me were. I wasn’t going to be able to be there to do my job, and I felt so guilty about it.
Mommy guilt. It’s a cliché, I know. It’s a hashtag, for Pete’s sake.
But that’s because so many of us suffer from it.
As someone who works at home and so tries to keep a career going while doing all the drop offs and pickups and volunteering of the stay-at-home mom, I constantly struggle with keeping the two worlds in balance.
I spend so much of each day worrying and feeling guilty over what I’m not doing that I often forget to enjoy what I actually am doing.
When these feelings get really out of hand, as they did that day in the airport, I always try to come back to what I think of as the mother’s daily reminder: Matthew 6:25. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and body more than clothing?”
This verse always help to get me back into perspective because the things I’m fretting over are usually so much smaller and less significant than feeding or clothing my family. And so why I am wasting time feeling guilty?
Besides, there’s Matthew 6:27 to consider: “And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to the span of your life?”
The answer is so obvious that it remains unstated. Of course we cannot add any time to our lives by worrying. All it does is cheapen the precious hours we do have.
The next time you are feeling overcome by mommy (or daddy) guilt, I urge you to reflect on these passages. Ask God to help you to place your priorities in order. That’s what I try to do. It really does work . . . even when you’re feeling guilty and sorry for yourself in an unfamiliar airport.
What’s your best remedy for mommy guilt?