Commentary by Danielle Wilson
One of my favorite movies is “Silence of the Lambs.” If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you stop reading immediately and get to the nearest pirated-movie website. I want you to fully appreciate my masterful references and make the vow never to help strange men move furniture into unmarked vans. Now, watch me work this 1991-thriller into an entire column on working-mom guilt!
When I stayed at home with kids, wallowing in the minutia of diapers, potty-training, cut-up hot dogs, sippy cups, lost pacifiers, training wheels, naps, Playhouse Disney and the god-awful bedtime routine, I never thought twice about enjoying moments by myself. If I somehow stumbled upon a child-free hour or, miracle of all miracles, an overnight, I relished the fashizite out of completely forgetting about my parental responsibilities, usually with a nice Chianti. In other words, once they were out of my sight, I no longer heard the lambs crying.
But ever since going back to work, quality time away from my children is frequented by anxiety and overwhelming mom-guilt. Take this past week. I spent two days in Kentucky, no kids, no husband, but I constantly worried about who would take Corinne lunch during guard practice, get Andrew to tae kwon do and feed Maddie. It’s like the trauma of being sent to live with my uncle on the sheep farm who won’t let me live my life. Or, more befitting me personally, the constant “on-call” feeling of parenting refuses to dissipate, even when I’m technically not on duty.
To alleviate the worry, I usually put the family under full SWAT-team surveillance in my absence, but then the guilt sets in. I hear my precious starlings cry: “Why aren’t you spending time with us, mom?” “Why aren’t you here taking us bowling?” “Why aren’t you teaching us to make clothes out of human skin?” Enough! I just want those little “baahs” to be silent!
But perhaps no mother ever experiences a true silence of her lambs. All we can do is continue to rub the balance lotion on our stressed-out skins (zinger!).