It’s pretty easy for me to say I don’t have any mom guilt. When my boys were born I owned a personal training/fitness studio and mostly worked in the afternoons and evenings while my aunt lovingly watched them for me. When they were three, I sold the business and became a SAHM. About two weeks later, I started teaching fitness classes at the local YMCA, began blogging and eventually started freelance writing. I have been with my kids for the majority of their days, everyday, since the day they were born. I laughed at mom guilt.
I was always very sure I needed to go for my run, bike or swim and never really thought twice about having the “me” time because every other moment of my life was “us” time. I took vacations with my husband, ran races on Sundays (even the one I did three months after they were born) with nary a twinge of guilt because each and every Monday through Friday I was happily spending with my boys.
Way back in February of this year I found out I qualified for the New York City Marathon. This was obviously a big deal for a running junky like myself and also a great challenge since I had not run a marathon in seven years. I thought about it, talked with my husband and then my coach, and made the decision to register.
The race is always held the first Sunday of November. The first Sunday of November this year is November 1, which means the night before is Halloween.
At first, I didn’t think much of it. In my adult brain I was actually thinking “NYC is amazing on Halloween! The kids’ minds will be blown! They probably have all of Central Park decked out and maybe a massive spider crawling up the Empire State building.” Obviously I have never been to the city on Halloween.
I started planting the seed with the boys around March since they love Halloween almost more then life itself. They start asking to bring out the Halloween decorations around their birthday. In April. This year I “waited” until September 4th to decorate.
We live in a neighborhood built for Halloween. People come from surrounding neighborhoods to fill their bags in ours. The streets are lined with kids and adults and, some parents (that I love), pull drink carts or drive decorated golf carts, ready to give you a lift or a drink or both. It’s a huge party and everyone talks about it for months.
The first conversation I had with the boys was rough. I told them we would be in New York for Halloween and quickly started saying how much fun the city would be on that night and I’m sure they will have special events and yes of course we will still go trick or treating. Their only response was to ask if any number of their friends would be there. Once they started listing just about every kid in our neighborhood, and the realization of what I was taking away from them hit me, I felt incredibly selfish.
I didn’t want to be that mom. I didn’t want my race to take the boys away from what is a very fun and special night for them at the pinnacle of Halloween age, which I believe has been determined as six and half. I always wanted to make my training and racing fun – like that time we went to Spain! – and not something they had to go to. I struggled.
Then I started thinking it was all ridiculous. It was one Halloween and what a life experience it would be to have them see and hear and absorb the New York City marathon at six! What an opportunity I was giving them. They should be grateful! I bet Sheryl Sandberg doesn’t ask her kids if they want to be in Japan on Christmas, she just leans in and flies them there on her private jet. *Yes I just compared myself to the COO of Facebook
I had conversations with my Dad about it. I talked to my husband over and over again. He’s always brutally honest and not always in favor of my running and racing so, with raised eyebrows and a kind of “now do you see what you’re doing?” look, helped me come up with some options:
- Have my dad and stepmom stay home with the boys and give them the Halloween they know and love.
- Ask my sitter to come and stay with them and give them the Halloween they know and love.
- Have my husband stay with them (and I would go with my dad and stepmom to the race) and give them the Halloween they know and love.
To me, all of these options sucked. I wanted my boys to be at this race! I wanted everyone to be there but them especially. Yes, I was being selfish and sulking, but that’s when I had the idea for the guilt party.
I proposed this idea to the kids as if I was pitching Nike. I told them I would throw them the biggest, most elaborate Halloween party this side of Sleepy Hallow, and invite each and every neighborhood friend – the weekend before Halloween. Deal?
They took it!
I immediately texted every mom in the ‘hood and asked them to save the date, went online and ordered invitations, opened my Target Red Card account and bought out the store!
How’s that for guilt? I’m Italian and was raised Catholic so I’m a guilt professional.
[Tweet “Mom guilt and the NYC Marathon. What would you do? #NYCMarathon #parenting”]
I still feel incredibly guilty. I’m so afraid that Halloween will come, we will be in New York and they will be upset. Part of me knows it’s not that big of a deal but, in the moment, it might be. I also know I can’t live to make my kids happy and obviously I’m trying to balance my wants with theirs, but this has been a tough one.
I’m afraid that despite the party, they are miserable in New York on Halloween night and I feel like the worst mother on the planet.
But then I had a vision.
It’s 20 years from now, and they are being interviewed at the Olympics for being the first twin brothers in history to set dual American records in the men’s marathon and win two gold medals!
“This is all thanks to our mom who dragged us to New York City on Halloween, to watch her race the marathon when we were six.”
How do you deal with mom guilt? Did you mom seem to care about this?
When is the last time you had a mom guilt dilemma?
NYC bloggers – give me some great things to do in the city on Halloween night with the boys!
it is a tough one.
and I shall just meet you where you are as I WAS/AM SO SO NOT A FAN 🙂 when people tell me not to feel something Im feeling.
I can say it isn’t as huge a deal to them as it is to you.
They just want you.
The rest of it is just icing on the halloween pumpkin cake 🙂
This made me cry. Thank you for reminding me what the important thing is. xo
as a fellow Italian raised Catholic, I feel the guilt. I’m feeling guilty for being away this weekend and next. It’s two weekends out of 52 in a year and I’m feeling bad. My hubs thinks I’m nuts. Anyway, years from now, they won’t even remember that they didn’t get to trick or treat at home on 2015, but they will remember seeing mom run like the wind through the streets of NYC.
They probably won’t remember either one, which really is fine. I’m glad you can relate to the guilt (I guess?) and yes, I will be riding that train with you this weekend as well. *sigh*
That’s such a big race weekend for many people. I think your compromise is good though and I do think your children will have a good time.
I hope so!! Thanks Hollie.
Whew. I held my breath the entire time reading this!! I totally feel your pain. I really do! I’m actually working on a post right now with all the fun things to do on Halloween and you just kicked my butt into gear! I think your idea is brilliant! They get TWO weekends of Halloween! It’s great!!
My own personal plans include going to Coney Island when they open at (11am?!) for a few hours of Halloween fun. This might be a bit far out from the city but it’s good family cheesy fun (with rides!) I know there are definitely more things happening–I will keep you posted!
I knew you wouldn’t let me down Nellie!! I’ll be waiting for that post! THANK YOU!
I’m not a mom, so I have no idea what I am talking about, BUT I get super, super anxious about imposing on people and I worry constantly that others will not enjoy doing the things I want to do. I would be way more upset worrying that the boys were not having a good time, for sure. I do a lot of things alone simply because I get so stressed out thinking that the person I brought would not enjoy it. As such, I would probably leave them home because the stress and anxiety would make it impossible for me personally to enjoy the experience of having them there if they didn’t end up loving it. I would not be able to concentrate on my race. The few times I have had AJ come to things he wasn’t 100% thrilled about (hell, even doing chores he is not thrilled about), I got so upset that I was worse off than he was. I’d rather just leave everyone else out of it! I could see how that would be a really, really hard call, though. I’m sure the party will be awesome, the boys will love wearing their costumes to the race (they should do that, by the way, and hand out candy!) and you’ll get to give them a huge hug at the finish line!
OMG we are so much alike it’s scary! I can relate to ALL of this and rarely have people/husband/family come to my races just for those reasons. I always want to be so accommodating to everyone and it’s exhausting. But, with my dad, stepmom and my husband at the race, I KNOW the boys will be in good hands. I’m not worried about the race itself, just the drama leading up to it!! And they wear their costumes pretty much everywhere now so you can bet they will be in them at the race!! I may even be able to recognize them easier because of it!
Maybe we should start a support group for people like us 🙂 Thanks so much Danielle.
Ahhh…… we need to eliminate mom guilt….I sort of consider that a big part of my job!! Did I nurse long enough, did I go back to work too early, did I poison them by not making my own baby food, etc….etc….. Here is what I think is important to teach your kids (at least it is what I tell myself)…. I think it is important for your kids to see that their mom has own life, her own thing, makes herself a priority….
You want your kids to grow up to take care of themselves…. you want your kids if they get married one day to be ok when their wife does things for herself because that is the behavior that has been modeled for them…..
You are teaching them that their mom has her own identity and value, and that sometimes that needs to take priority…. no more guilt mamas, please….
I couldn’t agree more!! I’ve been so good up to this point and you make an excellent point about how they should treat a spouse or significant other – YES! That is also part of my problem because my mother’s whole life was us kids and she never did anything for herself and rarely vacationed with my dad. But yes, I will move onward and try to remain guilt free! Thank you Paria!
I’m not a mom but I think that is an absolutely fantastic compromise and they will have a blast. I think you are giving them the best of both worlds NYCM is amazing to witness and they will have their own party! Growing up my parents packed us up the day after school ended for 3 months to our beach house (terrible, right?) I remember being sad that I would miss my school friends all summer and parties etc. but wouldn’t trade those summers for my life. Moral of the story is I think the NYCM experience and NYC weekend will sufficiently erase thoughts of missing halloween.
Oh yes that beach house thing sounds awful – LOL! But, of course I can see how a child would view it. I try to think that they will look back, as you are, and relish these trips – it’s just a LONG wait! Thank you Gianna.
If they didn’t go with you, you will never forget it and always wish they had been there. If they miss Halloween at home, they may be upset for a few days, but they’ll get over it quickly. My kids couldn’t tell you about their sixth Halloween to save their lives. I fully support your decision, Allie! I know you didn’t ask for my support, but I’m giving it anyway.
Now THAT is what I needed to hear! Thank you Dana and I will always take your support!!
Oh man, are you reading my mind!? We came back to NYC for a couple of days and I immediately signed up for two baby classes and bought about a year’s supply of organic baby food. Having all of these things at the touch of our fingertips and doing all these amazing classes that Cooper loves makes me feel so guilty because we just don’t have these things in Sao Paulo. But part of me realizes that if we were still living here, I would not be able to take him to these classes and I wouldn’t even be able to spend the whole day with him because I’d be working. So I guess I should take it easy on myself.
I think it is much more likely your boys are going to remember their amazing party and a really fun time in NYC rather than “missing” something on Halloween!
I think once you become a mom you just start to question everything because you love your kids more then yourself. It’s so hard all this “am I doing the right thing?” that is constantly playing in your head. But, like you said, if you lived in the city you wouldn’t be able to do what you’re doing and this way, you kind of have the best of both worlds. I also love what Carla wrote – our kids just want us. No matter what or where. This is so very true!
I don’t even know if it’s a Catholic thing. My mom is the QUEEN of guilt and she was raised Baptist. LOL! Take care of yourself – you are a FABULOUS mamma!
LOL!!! Maybe it’s just a MOM thing!? Thanks Laura.
I’m just as guilty. I have the chance to join my husband in Italy the end of the month. We will be missing our sons 3rd birthday and Halloween !!! I went back and forth as well . I love my neighborhood at Halloween as well . My husband convinced me stating ‘when are we ever going to go to Italy with young kids’! So we will celebrate my sons birthday the weekend before and my in laws will take them trick or treating. And like you, I’m hoping they forget all about it next year:) I think you are making the right decision 🙂
Thank you for sharing this!! Just feeling like I’m not alone is helping tremendously. And, YOU are also doing the right thing. Time alone with your husband is so, so needed and it sounds like your son will be in great hands. Thanks Jen!!
PS – Hopefully you will post about Italy since we’re going in the spring!
I think the boys will love NYC! We don’t remember the things we missed from childhood, but rather the things we did, so I’m sure they’ll love the trip and have great memories for years to come. If I remember right from what some of my NYC friends said, New York is supposed to have an amazing parade on Halloween – that could be really fun for your boys to watch!
I get you on the guilt thing. I’m not Italian, but I’m a Midwestern-raised Catholic so the guilt is strong. I feel bad about taking my puppy to kennel for my marathon, so I have no idea how I’m going to deal with mom guilt someday.
Thanks Laura! I’m sure the city will be great and everything will probably be absolutely fine – it’s just the anticipation beforehand!
And I here you on the kennel. That’s actually one thing stopping us from getting a dog. We travel a lot and I know I would have total guilt with a canine too!!
your boys are gonna be so super duper proud, it’s totally a win win. what an amazing experience for all!
oh man (woman) do i get you on the guilt thing. i don’t have human kids but my dogs are my babies and i sometimes act like the crazy pet lady with them. i can’t even imagine how i’ll be with humans but the thought sometimes terrifies me in a crazy lady good way…. does that even sound lucid??? 🙂
LOL – yes, actually because you sound like a crazy mama already 🙂 Thanks Danielle!
Allie, I totally am RIGHT THERE with you. Jerold and I are coming to NYC for the marathon and it’s been planned for a long time (Runner’s World is sending us!). We will not be home with our kids for Halloween and I have been thinking about it so much!!
Ugh. I know they will be in good hands also, as my Mom and my Aunt will be with them.
I know they won’t remember that Mommy and Daddy were gone for Halloween one year, but I feel the twinges of guilt. All this from a SAHM who is with them at (except school) all times!
Ahhhh!! Maybe we should bring them and they can hang out with your boys and have a giant party! 🙂
Love this post!!
I love what you are doing and your boys are going to have a BLAST. Bonus: they get to watch their Mom run the NYC marathon!! I think that is really, really cool.
PS: I’ll e-mail you – we must meet up!!
Oh man!!! You SO get it! Is it possible we feel more guilt because we stay home with them? Ugh. Either way, it’s hard but we’re both probably making too much of it. Although I love the idea of you brining them and us having a huge party!
Definitely email me so we can swap numbers and meet!!! I would love to drown our mom guilt together in NYC 🙂
I get that kind of guilt from my family all the time. Obviously not for racing, since I couldn’t give two hoots about racing these days (how bad is that to say, but I did have many years of enjoying it, now I like to watch my kids). I am enjoying destination races, which is another story altogether and perfectly ok with my running family. Nope for me the nemesis is any kind of blog event or work I must do on the blog that takes away from family time. I think your boys will remember the NY experience for the rest of their lives…neighborhood Halloween stuff, probably not. Good luck in the marathon, Allie, I know you are going to rock it! One of these days I am going to do a race that you are at so I can meet you in person!
Thanks for reminding me that if I didn’t feel guilty about this, it would be something else!! LOL 🙂
I would absolutely love to meet you one of these days – race or no.
Good luck to your son…he is looking fast these days!
I can be convinced to do a race to meet up with you! 🙂 But I won’t keep up with you! I will see ya at the finish line.
i don’t have kids but who can’t relate to this story? running and racing is a huge compromise for my husband and i and i do sometimes feel a bit bad about the money i spend on it (although i really reigned in the racing expenses after we got married) and the time it takes me out of the house. however, i think that doing things that you love (even those selfish things and racing as much as i race is kind of selfish) is a good thing and is worth it. i want to see pictures of this epic halloween party. i think your compromise is perfect! good luck in new york!
This is a great analogy, regardless of kids! And yes it’s worth it!!
There will absolutely be lots of pictures:-)
I totally get this and where you are coming from. Remember, Halloween can be anywhere, not just at home! I think it’s also important for kids to learn flexibility and that not everything happens the way they want it. I bet they will surprise you and all of the guilty will be for not. Let’s face it, we aren’t getting any younger (shhh, don’t tell anyone) and you won’t be able to have a big event like this forever….they have many years of Halloween’s and I guarantee they won’t even remember they missed trick or treating…..after a few years 😉
You are absolutely right. And, the closer it gets, the better I feel. Heck, they will most definitely remember watching the NYC marathon but I highly doubt they will remember the Halloween party. Such a great point Sue! Thank you.