The Wave Of Guilt That Follows A Shitty Morning

Originally Published: 
Peter Muller / Getty

I wish the mornings felt like birds chirping and sunrises. I wish I could find the time to make my kids a nutritious breakfast then actually sit down with them and eat it looking lovely in my silk kimono as I sip my herbal tea, and we pass around bowls of fresh fruit and granola.

I would sell my soul if it meant I could get them ready for school without feeling like I’d just run a marathon.

Truth be told, the morning routine that goes down in my house before school (every damn day) pushes me to the brink of my sanity no matter how hard I try to prepare the night before.

If the lunches get packed and are sitting nicely on the counter in order from oldest to youngest, someone has forgotten to have me sign their permission slip that was due three days ago and they wave it in my face while I am trying to slap on my mascara.

If I get all the paperwork signed and have my kids place it nicely in the correct pocket of their binder and into their backpack, my daughter decides she can only wear the jeans that are dirty because “OMG, Mom, nothing else goes with these shoes, and I have to wear these shoes.” Cue meltdown.

If all the proper attire is clean and on my kids’ bodies as they head out the door, the lunches are packed, and the paperwork is signed, then my youngest lets the dog out and he runs down the road and gets into the neighbors’ trash. My oldest gets mad because his hair won’t cooperate, and I notice the calendar tells me I was supposed to send in two dozen cupcakes for the school read-a-thon, and of course, I have no damn cupcakes.

It never fails. Every morning is stressful no matter how hard I try, and my frazzled face (with only one eye sporting mascara) is usually the last thing my kids see as they head out the door.

My harsh “I love you. Have a good day, but please, let’s try to pull it together tomorrow morning” is the last thing they hear. While I watch them walk out of the car, or to the bus stop, I roll down the window for one last “I love you so much,” because I do. My kids are my whole damn world, and I feel so guilty seeing the back of their head walk away from me after a hectic morning that I could cry into my half- eaten piece of toast that is sitting in my lap. Sometimes I do.

I worry it sets the tone for their day, like it sets the tone for my day. I prance along and can’t seem to catch up. I think about how I can make it better, be more organized, and try to get them off to school without threatening to take away their devices and after-school sweet treats. I can’t wait for them to come home, so I can make it right and ease my guilt.

As they all pile in after school, I squeeze them and ask about their day. I end up letting them have an extra cookie (because guilt) and put all my energy into prepping for the next morning.

Then they start fighting. Or I ask them to help with dinner or put away their laundry, and I am ignored or suddenly their body is unable to move. They leave their shoes in the middle of the floor, and I fall down. The dog doesn’t get taken out after me asking them five times, and he ends up pissing all over the floor.

And before I know it, I’ve lost my shit again because parenting is one long, arduous journey. Kids need lots of reminders to do daily tasks and aren’t quite capable of feeling the guilt moms do when things go awry.

I know this because during dinnertime when I ask my kids what their favorite part of the day is they say something like, “When you fell over my shoes,” or “When I waved my permission slip really close to your face, and it stuck to your lip gloss,” and the whole family bubbles over in laughter.

When I apologize to them for always seeming so stressed-out in the morning, and tell them I want to try to get it under control for the next day, I get blank stares. My oldest will say, “You were stressed-out?” And he’s not kidding.

To me, I am setting the tone for the day and worried I am ruining their education and emotional health by not sitting down to a nice, quiet breakfast wrapped in silk as we listen to the birds sing.

But to them, I am just providing the entertainment, and guess what? They still love me even though I am a mess.

This article was originally published on