One of the blogs I've recently started to follow, Cop Mama, hosted "Mama Guilt Monday" yesterday. I'm a little late to the party, but as soon as I saw the topic, I was immediately transported to last Thursday when I was covering Charlie's classroom so his teacher could enjoy the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon for Catholic Schools week.
Overall, the experience was enjoyable, as evidenced by my Facebook updates (courtesy of my trusty iPhone):
Covering the 4th grade class for the teacher luncheon. Too bad I didn't think to bring my coat in for recess duty. Brrrrrrr!
I've been informed by the 4th graders that I am "cold" because I threatened to pop the balloon one kid was playing with when she should be reading.
Self-selected reading time and my kid is looking at a Scooby Doo "where's waldo" book. Technically not reading, but I'm letting it slide b/c I'm totally playing favorites.
Revolution on my hands b/c word is out that the other classes are watching movies and having fun while this class is doing journal writing.
What I didn't put out on Facebook was what happened in the lunch room. Sixty some 4th graders, all sitting around with lunches big enough to feed a third world country. (No hot lunches that day so the cafeteria staff could go to the luncheon, too.) Then there was my Charlie, sitting at his table with his Target bag lunch sack and a lonely peanut butter sandwich and carton of chocolate milk.
"Charlie, where are the apple and the carrots that were with your lunch?" I had made the lunch ahead of time, putting it loose in the refrigerator, so all he had to do was put it in a lunch box or bag and take it to school.
"Well, I ate the apple for a snack and I didn't get any carrots."
Can you say sinking, I'm-just-a-terrible-mother guilt? This is my kid who is always complaining about being hungry. Sure, his menu of acceptable items is limited and he only eats what I term "crappy" meats -- chicken nuggets, hot dogs, hamburgers. And if he chose not to take the carrots I had bagged up for him, that wasn't my fault.
But still, in the face of all those kids with potato chips and lunchables and cookies and applesauce, my kid with his measly PB & honey sandwich made me want to cry.
I felt guilty because I hadn't thought to pack him a separate snack (they are allowed to bring one daily) so he didn't have to pilfer the apple from his lunch. I felt guilty because I didn't just put the elements of the lunch in a sack or lunch box so he would be sure to at least have all 3 things I'd planned for him to eat at lunch. I felt guilty that we didn't have a lot to pack at home because money is tight, which led me to think that maybe money wouldn't be so tight if I made wiser choices about how to spend the money we do have. It was basically one big spiral of guilt.
So what did I do with it? Well, after wallowing in the guilt for a few minutes, I walked around the lunch room. I noticed one kid with an overflowing lunch box at Charlie's table who was basically playing with his food. So I said, "Hey, if you're not going to eat some of that, can you share it with Charlie because all he has is a peanut butter sandwich."
I know you're thinking, "Oh no you didn't!" And I'm telling you "yes, I did!" Shameless, I know, but as I saw a wrapped package of string cheese make it's way across the table to my kid, I felt a little less guilty.