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?’.

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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.

Mel