GUILTY AS CHARGED

I bet if you asked any mom how many times she’s felt guilty this week, she’d tell you too many times to count.  We are all guilty of feeling guilty.  From the tiniest of mom blunders, to some whoppers you are afraid to admit to even your closest of friends; the guilt is real.

Most of the time – if not all the time – this guilt is a complete waste of time and energy. I’m not going to tell you not to feel guilty, because that’s not going to make you stop.  I’m also not going to tell you that it gets easier, because it doesn’t.  Hello, when kids are vocal, they can impose their own guilt – more sentences equals more ways to manifest guilt.

What I am going to share are ways to approach the guilt with a little bit of humour, because trust me when I tell you NO ONE has her act together.  And the quicker you realize this, the quicker you will realize you are, in fact, a prime candidate for mother of the year. Okay, maybe not mother of the year, maybe just a badge of excellence…okay, perhaps just a notable mention. Same thing.

Feeling guilty about forgetting to wash your kiddo’s favourite shirt so she can wear it to school – for the fourth time this week?  Don’t sweat it.  Either pop it in the steam dryer for a good 5 min, or just let her wear it.  She will not care if she wears a semi-clean shirt.  I say, let the germs act as a protective barrier to whatever she’ll pick up on day two and move on.

Guilty that you’ve missed family dinner because of a late work event? And because you can’t win, when you are home for dinner, guilty about longing to be at dinner with friends?  Make time for both.  Kids are good when you are present and when you are balanced.

Whether you are with friends or with the kids, stop pining to be present in the other. You are wasting fine wine and good conversation.  Then you may as well start feeling guilty about that, too. Wasted time all around.

Missed one parent/guardian interview night at school?  Do you know how many of these exist?  Enough to give you plenty of time to make it up, tenfold.  You can’t win them all. But you can simply call the teacher and ask for a phone conversation. Crisis averted.

They aren’t eating any of the healthy stuff for lunch. So you feel guilty about that.  Then, you feel guilty that they are eating, but it’s the crappy plain pasta you said you would never provide.  Think about all the times your parents told you to eat your dinner or you aren’t leaving the table. Think about all the food you left untouched.   Now look at your kids.  Now look at yourself.  You are fine.  They will be too.  Everyone survives.

You fell asleep at the recital, because nobody wants to watch the other kids dance, and your kid’s part is only 5 minutes out of the three hour ordeal.  They sell a video.  Watch it.  The lights in the theatre were off.  What you didn’t see were all the parents sleeping through your kid’s part.

How about the guilt that comes from last minute party planning (oh, is time for another birthday you say?), Halloween prep, or Christmas shopping?  All for events they will NOT remember in the near or distant future?  Stop planning elaborate parties.

A two-year-old doesn’t need a huge party (I am guilty of this with my first; I recovered with my second). It’ll probably rain on Halloween and it’ll be cold, so the costume won’t matter – no one will see it with the coat you have to put over it.

If you are going to be pissed at all the toys and junk that you accumulate during the holidays, stop buying a truck full of presents.  I am still opening presents from last Christmas.  It’s October.  I may just re-wrap some of it for this year.

You consider yourself horrible for being late for pick up, late for drop off or  late in general.   Get in line.  Today it’s you.  Tomorrow it’s me.  A small miscalculation of time is not the end of the world.

Guilty that they love spending more time with the nanny, the daddy, or the granny more than you?  Trust me, your perception of the situation is probably far different than reality.  Your kid loves you.  My girls say they “love baba the most”.  My response? Talk to me when you get your period and we’ll see who you love then.  Kids can love more people than just you.  Don’t take it personally.

Thinking that your kids should have all the things you didn’t?  Stop.  Your parent(s) didn’t dress you in designer duds because it’s unnecessary.  If anyone is wearing Prada in this house, it’s going to be me, not my 2-year-old.

They won’t die from wearing hand-me-downs, either.  Everything after a trip to the park looks like a sack of dirt, anyway.  Baby Oxy and a washing machine make things clean again.  If your girlfriend offers you clothes, take them.  Use them.  Don’t feel guilty for not having everything new.  Your kids don’t care.  Neither should you. Think of it as vintage and move on.

Now time for the pep talk.  You will have a lifetime of second guessing decisions, and guilt-inducing experiences.  Be kind to yourself, and give yourself a healthy dose of perspective.  It is never as bad as you think it is.  If you kept your kid alive today and you made an effort to help with homework, put on a band-aid, gave them a bath, or showed them love, then you have absolutely nothing to ever feel guilty about.

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Feature Image: Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia, 1989
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