I'm taking a break from parent guilt. Want to join me?
This morning, suffering from a cold and a sleepless night, I let my toddler spend a little longer in front of the TV than usual. I caught myself as the guilt began rearing its head. I told myself: No! No damn guilt today. I'm sick, tired and I have two kids. And if TV is going to get me through it, then so be it.
There's an absurd number of things to feel guilty about as a parent. Some big, some small. All of them filled with the fear that the flawless parent-image you once had of yourself might not be true. Someone should really issue prospective parents a warning - maybe during sex education classes or something. WARNING: BEING A PARENT MAY CAUSE YOU TO EXPERIENCE FEELINGS OF GUILT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. DISCRETION IS ADVISED.
The guilt inducers spring up from everywhere, the minute you arrive home from the hospital with your precious bundle. And if, like me, you're a chronic worrier, you can't turn an inch without being confronted by the fact that every decision has the potential to leave you guilt-ridden. Breastfeeding, attachment parenting, sleep positions, sleep training, feeding choices, potty training, activity partaking, education, telly-watching, disciplining, child care... etc., etc.
The good news is, the guilt becomes monotonous at some point - at least it did for me. When I realized that every day there was a new reason. And then you begin to let it go. Because otherwise you could very well end up delirious with guilt. And, when the second child comes along, it decreases even more. You don't have the time to worry. You roll with it, whatever it is. Lying on the floor with the dog licking his face, okay. Sleeping on his tummy every now and then, sure.
Anyway, today, and maybe tomorrow, I'm taking a little vacation. Try it yourself if you like. My tropical island will not be letting guilt in. There will be no silly thoughts of whether I measure up. There will be no inward bashing myself over the head with a stick for forgetting to change a diaper, or that the carpet is littered with crumbs, toys and dog hair. No.
Maybe I'll buy a timeshare.