So, reading about families where real neglect happens is not happy. There are FAR worse things that go on in families. Is it abuse? Yes, it's a type of abuse. I sort of think of abuse as what's DONE TO a child and neglect as what is NOT DONE FOR a child. Sometimes, there is both.
I have heard a lot of moms kick themselves for a lot of things. They read something or see something or compare themselves to someone else and walk away feeling like they are a neglector. You see a perfect Mom with her kids all scrubbed and shiny and cute and hair fixed and precious hand-made clothes on and a sweet little headband in their hair and then you look down and notice that your child put her own pony tail in this morning and it is not lovely and they are wearing clothes, but nothing cute or pulled together and one of them has lunch on their face and mismatched socks and a hole in their jeans.
Sigh. So you naturally conclude (well I do anyway) that this mom of cuteness has all her dishes washed and her house is clean and her car is shiny and not filled with crumbs and library books and lost shoes. You might have even been to one of these cute mom's houses and seen it for yourself and you start to think, "What is wrong with me?"
I'm going to tell you something. Being a mom is hard work. Being a full-time mom is hard work. I thought when I quit working full time that things would get easier. Some of them have. But I was honestly very surprised at how hard it was to "just" stay home with my kids.
Here's the deal. Just because you are behind on something doesn't mean you are neglecting your children. It means you are behind on something. Are you? Then go do some laundry. Wash those dishes. It's fixable. It's not the end of the world. Today's "I don't have any clean underwear" can be fixed in a matter of hours. Will you get ALL the laundry done? Probably not. But you can sure pick through the pile and wash all the underwear!
Just because you spend some time on the computer each day doesn't mean you are neglecting your children. My dad read the newspaper each morning. When we wanted to tell him something, he put the paper down in his lap and listened to us. Then he went back to reading. I did not feel neglected that my dad was reading the paper! Today, I get all my news from the computer. I check the weather, I check e-mail, I go through my google reader. It's what I do in the mornings. If my children want to tell me something, I can stop and listen to them. It is not necessarily neglect to spend some time reading "your paper" each day. Can it become neglectful? Yes. Of course we should watch how much time we spend on the computer. Of course we should. Is that the reason why there is no clean underwear? This is fixable.
I have told you before that I do not buy into the thought that I should spend hours a day playing with my children. I am certain that families in olden times did not do such a thing. There was far too much work to be done! But I spend time with my children all day long. The key is not telling them to go away, leave you alone, be quiet, hush, go watch a movie, go play in your room, get away from Mommy because I'm BUSY! The key is whatever you are doing, you can be spending time with your children. Wash the dishes while they tell you all about their latest book they wrote. Stop washing and dry your hands off and look at the pictures. Hug them and tell them great job and then finish washing. Stop paying the bills and come out in the yard to see the cool bug they found. The bills will be there when you get back.
It is OK for your children to see you working. Some moms think they have to get everything done that would take their attention away from their children during nap time or after they go to bed. But if you do things that way, they will never see what it means to be a wife and a mom. Let them help you pay bills. Or draw beside you while you work.
Whatever you need to get done today, do it. But stop to look your children in the eyes and listen to them. Offer to read them a book before they even ask you to. We all get behind in things, but you will catch up. Get the rocks done.
And for goodness sakes, smile at your family.