Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mars, Venus and Guilt

Max's preschool planet diorama 

I recently had a conversation with a friend where I mentioned the guilt factor. Yes, for me it's an ever-present feeling of incompetence that I'm not able to be in more places at the same time. I hinted it a bit on Halloween, that incompleteness. I wanted to be at both the school party that morning and able to Trick-or-Treat that night, but I knew I had to chose one because I had to work. I know I should feel fortunate that I work at a job where I could go at all, but I still felt sad. But my friend said it would never have crossed his mind to feel bad at all, much less guilty, that he couldn't be in both places. 

In his mind, he's made his choices, and when he made those choices, that's it, they were done. For him, he decided to work. He knew that if he worked, of course there would be things along the way that got missed, but it wouldn't be a new injury each time. He said it was a Mars-Venus thing, that as children, boys are more indoctrinated in the idea that your choices have consequences. Where girls are told they can have it all, boys are taught to make sacrifices and not look back.

Perhaps it's a bit of a generational thing, as I'm not sure many of my peers look at the dynamic as a Mars-Venus thing anymore. I know plenty of men who feel guilt over not being able to do it all as parents. 

Or do I? Is this a more common reaction for women than men? Am I the only one who struggles with each new conflict? Let me know in the comments below.

(And hey, when's the last time you shared a post from Busy Since Birth? I'd love it if you shared this with your friends!)


  1. I never felt guilt about working. I've always felt pretty great about providing for my family. But as my kids get older, guilt is creeping in. I want to be in both places.

  2. Ha, Hello Lads! I think you've missed a few characters there. Freudian slip? :)

    Yes, maybe it's that the kids are more aware of it now? And knowing that makes it harder for us too? But I'd think that should be the same for men.

  3. Less now with the older one. . . . but still alot with the younger one. As the person who does the majority of school appointment and medical appointments with the kids, I have to navigate the balance. And working in an office with more men than women . . . .

    I feel bad about only being secret reader once to twice a year. Hubby doesn't feel bad at all. Of course, I think my expectations of being a mom were different than hubby's expectation of being a dad.

  4. You are definitely not the only one who struggles. I never really thought about it before, but it's true that I feel way more guilty than my husband does about these sorts of things (not being able to help out in the classroom, etc).