Following on from the theme of perfection, or at least the action of striving for it, let’s talk about guilt. This is more for the parent types out there, but I’m sure it can be applied to others too, it’s just that I can no longer remember not being a mother. It seems like a wild, crazy, hedonistic dream I once had.
Ok, so do you find that you constantly feel guilty and therefore feel the need to justify yourself to others – even to your other half or your best friends – for those moments when you stray from the perfect parenting path? Do you even find yourself justifying yourself TO yourself? (I know. That’s a lot of yourselfs.) For example, today I’m feeling guilty for a nice healthy spectrum of things: the two and a half pieces of toast topped with lashings of nutella that I am gobbling just before bedtime, the fact that I didn’t take the kiddies out this afternoon, the fact that I resorted to letting them watch the television for an hour or more so that I could get on with sorting out a logo for this site (it didn’t come out quite as I’d hoped, so I’ve hurled it back into the design phase in disgust), and the fact that I let them have dummies outside of sleepy time (in fact, the fact that I let them have dummies at all, being that I promised myself that I’d ditch them as soon as they turned two).
So there’s some good solid guilt in that little selection, but there must be a bit more I can squeeze out of myself if I really tried. Well let’s have a think…[2 seconds pass]…Ok that’ll do it. Here is a list of my top ten guilty mummying actions:
1. Not breast feeding for ‘long enough’
2. Letting them watch the television for longer than 10 minutes a day
3. Allowing them to have a dummy
4. Getting a nanny for a couple of days a week to let me have some ‘me’ time even though I don’t have a (proper, paid) job
5. Sometimes giving them quick and easy meals that are just that little bit too salty and/or sugary
6. Buying a non essential cute toy
7. Buying a non essential cute outfit
8. Ditching bath time
9. Despite buying various non essential cute toys, feeling guilty that they don’t have the latest and greatest ‘best’ toy or book that is essential for their development (and which, as it happens, that baby over there has who is talking/walking/tap dancing/snow boarding better than my children)
10. Not being proactive enough in encouraging them to speak and wondering if that is why they are still generally only saying mama, dada, mamadada and now gaga (which instead of augmenting their vocabulary has generally replaced dada)
and one for good luck
11. Feeling like I must have done absolutely everything wrong because for some reason my children are the only ones who are clinging to me in terror and floods of tears in a room filled with otherwise quiet, happy children.
But why should we feel so guilty? Granted, if I was only ever eating nutella on toast, or feeding the kids back to back KFC, putting them in front of the box for nine hours a day with a dummy in their mouths and never ever venturing outside the house (other than to go to KFC of course) then I might have a case for poor parenting, but should I really feel like I have to justify myself for those little moments when I feel like I ‘let myself down?’
Well do you want to know what I think? Fuck it. That’s what I think. It’s as simple as that. Fuck the lot of it. I’m fine, the kids will be fine, they will talk, tap dance and snow board just as well as the next guy and my nutella tastes delicious.. I might just have to put in a few more skips tomorrow morning.
Not seeing your guilt-maker on the list? Do let me know – I do so love to share.