07 May 2010

A New Way to Feel Bad

It's no secret that most working mothers feel some form of guilt over...well...the fact that they work. Of course, so do stay-at-home moms. Some speculate that, as mothers, we're pre-programmed to beat the hell out of ourselves for failing somehow (usually in our own minds).

I've been a little smug on this topic. I never felt it. Nope. Not a lick. Our family is the way it is, I do what I do, it's different from you, you're different from me which, by the way, is the stuff life's made of...soooo...

I pressed on.

Until now. Right now, I'm not sure if I actually feel guilty for wanting what I want or guilty for not actually feeling guilty, but there's certainly some element of "Bad Mommy!" playing out in my head. Why? Well...

Most of my readers probably know that I went away with my reserve unit for a week for some field training. Mind you, I hadn't been in the field since A was born, and I had a good hiatus even before that, so it wasn't something I was really looking forward to. In the least.

Until we did an irregular offload out the back of a C-130 as we approached our field training site in the mid-west. Our boots hit the ground running and then, everything faded away in my mind and I was back in my game.

For me, the field experience (whether training or deployed - and it's usually worse in training) is a love-hate relationship. With each day that passes, I count it off and look forward to home. And I can assure you that one day in the field is a week in real-world time. But when I get home, I'm on a rush that can't be achieved by any other means than the high-stress pace of wargames and war. It's a bizarre thing because both have a lot of down time in which minutes tick by like days, but it's nearly impossible to explain.

The really strange thing is that, as I get older, it's harder for me to come back from the field once I'm home. I want to move, I want to work harder and player harder still. I swear more. I smoke more. Of course, life catches me back up and these things fade with time...eventually.

So why the guilt? Because I want to be back there. I want to be deployed again. I want M with me (he was my first Battle Buddy in the Army - I consider him to be my eventual signing bonus). I can't though. I can't go and miss these years with A and because of that, a part me is suddenly sad.

I haven't yet figured it out myself. I just know that after days of not eating right (DFAC food = no), not sleeping right and carrying over 100 pounds of gear wherever I went, I came back alive and refreshed and restored with a sense of confidence I haven't felt in ages. It's the feeling that I can do and have anything I want because I proved it to myself again.

But I can't have that every day and still be present as a mother. So, sacrifices are made. Of course, if I'm involuntarily sent somewhere, well, off I go. For now though, I can't volunteer which I surely would have if my family dynamic was different.

For most of my life, I did things on my own terms, come hell or high water. Suddenly, I'm doing things on the terms of a child who was thanking an imaginary mermaid for the imaginary lollipops she was imaginarily (not a word, I know) getting on the ride home today. I'm pretty much OK with that.

So yeah. It's gotta be guilt for allowing that small part of me that longs for the field to exist when I have so much more to long for and love here. Nevertheless, I'm going to let that part of me live. The adrenaline rush is worth sharing space with it.


Julie said...

I feel 0% guilt.

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