There is one thing they don’t warn you about in the parenting books and when it hits, it gets you big time.
Here’s the thing they forgot to put up the front of What to Expect when I am Expecting, the one thing they neglected to tell you in sex-ed at school, the one thing that most new parents have no idea is going to completely and totally dominate their lives from the minute they become parents.
It’s one of the very first emotions you feel when you first see those two blue lines. Sure you get the oh-fuck and then the OMG-I’m-gonna-be-a-mum but then its the oh-no what about that wine/coffee/chocolate/sushi/cigarette I had?
Boom. Here starts the guilt, and I am here to tell you it doesn’t seem to stop. Ever.
Did you? Should you? Could you? Can you? Should I? Could I?
It’s ubiquitous, overwhelming and constant. It’s at the core of everything you do and it’s possibly systematically destroying you from the inside out.
Oh, so much guilt. Ask any mum you know what she feels guilty about today and she will sigh, and then launch into a spiel.
For a working mother the overarching guilt is the thought of not spending enough time with your children, despite studies showing that modern day parents actually spend more time with their kids these days than they did in 1965.
For the stay-at-home mother the guilt is that you aren’t providing for your kids. Sigh.
Clinical psychologists say that parenting guilt is a modern day phenomenon. That we strive for perfection, competing needlessly with each other and our failure to achieve promotes our guilt.
Failure to achieve huh? How guilty does that make you feel?
Take today for instance, from the minute you open your eyes (oh am I up early enough I had to finish that paper mache project for my son) to the moment you fussily fall asleep (did I do enough today? How an earth am I going to get through tomorrow?) every moment is laced with guilt.
1. Sleeping arrangements.
Eyes spring open. “Oh god the kids are in the bed again. I was sure I shushed them back to their beds at 2am, they must have snuck in during the wee hours”. Tonight I will make sure they sleep all night in their own beds. How will they ever learn to sleep if I keep letting them come in to my bed?
2. Sleeping quality.
“Whose children get only eight hours of sleep a night? I am sure at this age they are meant to be getting 12 – 14 hours sleep. I am going to damage then for life. Maybe I should let them sleep in my bed so they get more sleep?”
3. Sugar for breakfast.
Well, not sugar per say slurped off the spoon Mary Poppins style, but oh so much sugar in EVERYTHING.
Don’t you read the articles? Don’t you hear the “experts”? Don’t you see those diagrams with spoonful upon spoonful of the deadly substance displayed, a visual representation of poison imprinted on your mind each and every time you take the bran flakes from the cupboard?