Your three-year-old is acting like a crazy and completely intolerable human being, dishing out physical and mental abuse at every opportunity, and being whinier than a Beyoncé song (sorry, had to). You reach your max and officially have zero fucks left to give by 7pm. The final straw? He throws a converter at the TV and responds with a foot stomp and “I don’t care” combo before running off to destroy his room for the 7th time that day.
Naturally, this throws you off your patience pedestal and into a tornado of rage. “TIME OUT!!! ENOUGH WITH YOU!!” – you yell, louder than you’d like. You then march him kicking and screaming into the closest room and shut the door dramatically while muttering an abundance of creative curse words. You wonder if you just induced your period.
Later that night, when you’re getting ready for bed and being all peaceful and thankful (because that’s what Pinot Noir does), it creeps up: “Fuck. I was really mean and probably hurt my lil babe. I hope he doesn’t hate me right now. Does he? I wonder if he’s sad. I’m going to make him French Toast in the morning… ”
Once it starts, it never goes away. It just casually changes with the seasons and the years as they quickly slide by.
It ranges from supplementing with formula or clipping a toenail a little too close, to almost losing your kid at a playground. From working a job and feeling shitty about being away, to staying home and feeling guilty about resenting the fact that you’re not out there pursuing your passions.
There’s guilt for not giving them enough green vegetables, for giving them too many snacks, for forgetting the sunscreen, and for promising a special treat with no real intention of following through. For swearing too much, for brushing off a scary dream, and for clicking play on the Moana movie for the second time that day.
IT NEVER FUCKING ENDS. Ever.
And it’s only the beginning! Later, I presume, I’ll worry about a slew of new problems that I can’t even begin to imagine yet (OG Rebels, feel free to comment what you are currently losing sleep over as a little preview for the rest of us).
We’re all the same though, us moms; incessantly worried that with every action and subsequent consequence, there’s a chance we are fucking up our child. There’s a little voice saying “you could have done that a little bit better … that was a selfish move … you are a terrible mother”.
I wonder if guys feel it this hard too.
As it stands, every single mother on the planet has days of doubt and moments she’d love to redo. Even you Angelina, even you.
Why do we put ourselves through this fresh hell, you ask?
Because we want so badly to do it right. Because we love our kids so much that we want to give them every single shot we can at having a great life. But what is a great life, anyway? Isn’t the concept of “a great life” an inherently subjective one? You define success differently to me; I see happiness in a light that you don’t see it in. Your right is my wrong. My beautiful is your ugly. And if all that is true, then it seems to me like all this guilt shit is a bit useless.
Our job isn’t to be perfect, nor is it to make life perfect for our kids.
As parents, the only thing we can really strive to do is equip our kids with tools to get them through the shitty times and the means to truly enjoy the good times in their lives (because the only guarantee is that there will be both).
Our job is to teach them as many of life’s big lessons as we can before we set them out into the world to figure it all out for themselves.
Our duty is to make our love for them so clear that they know we’ll always be there rooting for them – no matter what.
So let’s all collectively agree that being consumed by these thoughts of “not doing it right” is a giant waste of time, yeah?
NEWSFLASH: There is no right way.
Do yourself a favour and don’t let guilt over inconsequential bullshit penetrate you so deep that it costs you joy. Learn to snap yourself out of it and move on to being a happier mama because (as we know) there ain’t a lot of time to waste around here.
And as an added solace, remember that children seldom look at us in the same way we look at ourselves. Hold onto that.
Featured Image: Elvira Hancock via @latenightinparis