PARENTING GUILT

It’s 7:35pm as I write this and Levi is shouting at me through the baby monitor because I didn’t make him a tent over his cot at bedtime.  (Thanks for starting that one last night, Dave Wiggins)

I’m exhausted tonight and as I reflect over the day I can quite clearly pin it down to one thing:

PARENTING GUILT.

To give you an idea of what I mean, here’s some examples from today:

  • Guilt over giving Levi my iphone to watch numberjacks in our bed this morning because it was 7am and we were just not ready to face the day yet.
  • Guilt over realising after we left the house this morning that we, yet again, forgot to brush his teeth today.
  • Guilt because I allowed him to have ice-cream at 4:30pm and then wondered why he wouldn’t eat my lovely cauliflower, bacon & cheese that I slaved over. 
  • Guilt because I then gave him peppers, tomatoes and avocado for dinner – and I have this thing in my head that it’s important for him to have a hot meal a day? WHY WON’T YOU EAT MY YUMMY CAULIFLOUR!!!!
  • Guilt about giving him juice instead of water more.
  • Guilt about him still being in nappies even though he is pretty ready to be potty trained (TIME – I NEED MORE TIME).
  • Guilt because I spent a half hour facetiming my parents in Canada during pre-bedtime crazy hour.
  • Guilt because I got irritated by him acting out while I was facetiming, even though he just desperately wanted my attention.
  • Guilt because he can probably sense me counting down the minutes until bedtime today.
  • Guilt over not giving him enough physical exercise today so I took him for a measly walk to the shop.
  • Guilt over skipping a few pages of the Andy Pandy book (it was the 5th night in a row for me and Andy Pandy) during bedtime reading.
  •  Guilty because I’m still not quite ready to think about having another child yet (more on this dilemma over on Fritha’s blog – she nails it)

It’s ridiculous isn’t it?  There wasn’t one part of my day today that I didn’t over-analyse as being ‘less-than’ or ‘not-enough’.  No wonder I feel heavy and worn out. 

Parenting is a tough gig.  Your capacities are tested to limits you are impressed you even have and if you are anything like me, some days you’d like to call in sick, load up on movies and junk food and take a nap when you feel like it. 

I really hope it goes without saying that I love my boy fiercely.  That he has made me want to be a better person and I still find myself staring at his little sweet face all the time thinking ‘wow – you are part of me – how’d we get so freaking lucky?’.

 Image

But this guilt has got to go.  In fact, I once had a friend that gave up parenting guilt for lent.  For real.  She decided that as a 40 day experiment she was going to chose to be confident enough in her choices as a parent to do the best she could in that moment and not go round and round about whether it was enough any more. 

I want to give up guilt too. 

What do you think?  Is guilt avoidable as a parent?  Is it like the midwife said to my friend when she had her baby ‘the placenta comes out and the guilt goes in’?  Do you think we are too hard on ourselves or is it natural to feel this way? 

It’s now 8:10pm and it’s been quiet upstairs for a while.  I’m off to practice guilt-free living with a ginormous bar of chocolate.

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12 thoughts on “PARENTING GUILT

  1. Mel – he knows you live him and he also knows how to make you feel “bad”. One day like today is good for you and him! And one day without running around will relax his little muscles as they grow. Enjoy your chocolate! And the cauli sounded tasty!

  2. Hmmmm interesting topic to write on. Obviously I can’t speak first hand but I do feel that I have a good basis to reply, watching your parenting from afar (and often through visuals). It must be entirely normal and I also think quite natural. The difference with you, Mel, is that you acknowledge it and move on. You don’t dwell on it and become in eerily resentful and the love you have for Levi is plain to see. I’m convinced that it would transcend any brief moments of irritation and doubt that his experience of that would be anything that remembers as part of his childhood.

    But how dare you not make him a sleeping tent! 😉

    Sent from my iPhone

    • I know – imagine the outrage of not getting a tent last night! Thanks pal, you’re always an encourager – thats a gift xo

  3. We just did a course about parenting and one of the questions was about describing whatever’s in your head as ‘perfect family’. I couldn’t do that, but I had a whole monologue prepared about the ‘perfect mum’ I have in my head that I want to be, even though I know it’s ridiculous. And already, before the baby arrives, I’m constantly measuring myself against weird external standards and convince myself I’m doing stuff badly, so I’m kind of bracing myself for motherhood and the guilt Thanks for sharing so honestly about it. A huge part of me saying ‘no, of course we don;t have to live with constant guilt’ as parents…but I’ll be honest that I don’t know how to take it out of my hard-wiring…

    • It seems to me (guilt) is a natural part of wanting to do the best you can and give your child the best chance at having a wild and fulfilling (truly fulfilling) life. I think the hardest part is balancing that ambition with the stuff that is beyond your control and allowing some grace for yourself in the times where you know you compromised your intentions to keep your sanity.

      Its a massive, steep learning curve trying to navigate how to parent well but I reckon it starts with a good open heart and it sounds like you are properly on track with that one so let the rest come with your instincts. xo

  4. oh mate! You know some of the things you feel guilty about? Like the avocado thing? Wilf quite often has Philadelphia on pitta for dinner so I think the avocado meal was a winner in my opinion. Wilf gets up around 5.30-6 and we let him watch AN HOUR of peppa pig on Youtube or Cbeebies, I used to feel guilty but there just is no point. You are an amazing mum and I think mum guilt is stupid but inevitable! Thanks for linking to me btw, glad you feel the same! xx

    • Ah! Thanks pal, glad to know I’m in good company. Your love for wee Wilf is so beautiful. He is a sweetheart. Xo

  5. I know you did not write this blog post in order to receive reassurance, but Mel as I read it I just wished there was a way to convince you what a GREAT mum you are to Levi! Outstanding actually! He is such a happy healthy boy, he knows how to love, he is developing brilliant social skills and honestly… I know of no other 2 year old who loves blueberries and bananas and who would eat peppers, avocados and tomatoes for dinner!!

    As a mother of three and grandmother of one I recognise ALL the guilt inducing issues you mentioned, and I have been there too. I agree that healthy eating, good routines, fresh air etc are all really important. But you ARE doing those. It’s the bigger picture that’s important, not getting it ‘right’ every single day – I think that’s one of the main things I have learnt. There were 10 years between my first child and my third. Both boys. But my approach to parenting changed quite a lot in those years. By the time Jacob came along I no longer got so wound up over the things that seemed so important with my first child. I was more relaxed about certain things to do with routine etc while there were still things that were non-negotiable (things to do with character, how to treat other people etc). When I was younger I was, like you, used to achieving highly and had high ideals. As life goes on you realise you actually can’t maintain that standard, so you may as well let go of some of that lest you drive yourself mad! One other thing that forced/helped me to change over the years was that whereas I love rules, I am living with a rebellious Irishman who thinks that ‘rules are made to be broken’…. There was a challenge right there 🙂

    In relation to Levi ‘sensing you counting down the minutes until bedtime’…. It’s ok for him to know that mummy gets tired and has limitations. As he gets older you will not be able to pull the wool over his eyes about anything… He will know you for who you really are and will love you regardless 🙂 Because no matter what happens, he will know that you love him fiercely and unconditionally, and you will cheer him on, fight for him and be his greatest encourager.

    I hope as you reflect on your parenting you will realise you are doing a really good job, give yourself a pat on the back and kick the guilt!
    xxxx

  6. Hello Mel,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I could only concur to Nina to what a GREAT mum you are to Levi! I wish you all the best in balancing between your life and love to your child.

    Thank you.

  7. Pingback: 2013 Reflections | Mel Wiggins

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