Parenting. Such a MAGICAL experience. Along with all the fear, desperation, exhaustion, irritation, frustration and total absolute dicking bollocks of parenting, comes guilt. GUILT. I feel it ALL THE COCKING TIME. I can’t escape it. I’m afraid to say, people, that when you spawn a tiny person you instantly and violently sign up for a LIFETIME of this emotional headfucking stuff. It’s overwhelming, and gives me heartburn. Yeesh.
I feel guilty…
that I don’t do enough ‘educational’ stuff with Moo
that I don’t spend enough time outdoors with Moo
that I let her watch too much TV
that I spend too much time on Twitter while she watches TV
that I don’t feed her enough food
that she eats too much junk food
that she doesn’t socialise with other children enough
that I don’t socialise with other parents enough
that sometimes I just want a break from the parenting stuff
that I should be looking for work even though it wouldn’t mean I was any better off right now
that I should be writing a novel/a screenplay/a play instead of blogging
that I should eat more healthily
that I should be a better sister/daughter/friend
that all this internal gibbering makes me a bad mother
that I’m not more proactive about a LOT of things
that I shout at Moo when I really don’t mean to
that sometimes I only really want some time on my own
that I’ve just spent fifteen quid in the supermarket on crap when I could budget properly and save cash
that I resent a lot of people who have what I don’t have even though I know that’s a horrid thing to do
that I know it could be a lot worse for me and I hate moaning
that I feel guilty about most of this stuff when I should just QUIT IT, FUCKSAKE – and man up…
You see? It’s a convoluted nightmare of epic proportions. And I’m only being a tiny bit dramatic there. Which I feel guilty about. Obvs.
What do you feel guilty about?
The Moo is poorly.
Obvs not for the first time ever, she’s been poorly before. She’s got a cough, and she feels a bit hot, and is generally producing enough snot to drown kittens in. Which I have been doing, to amuse us both. Damn kittens.
Unfortunately my mood has not been so buoyant of late. And trying to deal with a grumpy, whiny, coughing baby while simultaneously dealing with my own shit meant that yesterday just totally undid me. There was a tether, I reached the end of it, and then continued on a bit further, in the vain hope that I would somehow regain the initial tether, but by then the tether had farked off and camped down in Wiltshire somewhere, ready for someone to use it to anchor a tent or something. I really have no idea what a tether is, I’m hoping it is a rope.
I cried. A lot. I cried at Moo and made her cry, which made me cry even more. I cried on the way to playgroup, in public no less, which is hugely embarrassing and does fark all in my bid to run for Mayor of Bristol. I cried when we got back from my mum’s house cos Moo had been fine there and played nicely, but once we’d crossed the threshold of our home she turned into a demon, refused to eat anything, and coughed until she made herself cry and vomit at the same time.
I wept so much because I just felt useless. There was nothing I could do to comfort my baby – and not even Cbeebies was hitting the spot, that’s how farking desperate the situation was – and consequently I hit that brick wall that so many parents find themselves up against. I thought that as a mother I could provide some maternalistic exoskeleton that would protect my child from all peril. How wrong was I! Turns out they get ill anyway. FFS.
Guilt’s an insidious thing. It sits like bile at the back of your throat and threatens to choke you at the slightest opportunity. I let it yesterday. I felt guilty for not being able to keep Moo safe from a cough. I felt guilty for not knowing what to do to soothe her. I felt guilty for getting cross and frustrated when she didn’t want her dinner, which was probably down to her feeling like shite and nothing at all to do with my cooking… well, maybe. Anyway, let’s just assume that I felt guilty for the WHOLE of yesterday and that’d be about right.
So how do we, as parents, cope with this? We do, I guess. A good friend told me that I was doing my best and that was all I could do. Trouble is, I never feel like my best is good enough. I do, generally, feel like I am letting Moo down on a daily basis. How farking terrible is that? As her mum, I would wrestle radioactive alligators and space tigers, while trapped on top of a burning building, just for Moo. I would vanquish a legion of pestilent zombies that had camped out in the local park, just to ensure her safety when she wanted a go on the slide. I would give a man-hungry boa constrictor a Chinese burn and then tickle its bollocks if I thought it would make Moo giggle again. I’d do anything for that tiny girl – even let her READ MY MAGAZINES BEFORE ME – and yet I will ALWAYS feel like I am not doing enough.
Being a parent is one giant piece of fucked-up head mess.
Do we all have days like that? Hopeless days? Is it safe to just acknowledge it and move on?
Guilt is a weighty burden. I carry enough with me. A good friend asked me, ‘Why? Why do you feel guilty?’
I dunno. Because I feel too much, in general. I take on the world’s woes. I empathise. An important quality, I think, for a writer, and an actress, of course.
But as a human being, in general, trying to cope with this baggage we call life? I could maybe shed a few guilty pounds. Stop worrying about how other people feel, let them deal with their own head space, in their own time. Look after myself, for a while.
Work on my happiness. Stop saying sorry. Jettison the guilt.
And I most definitely do not feel guilty for eating Moo’s last box of raisins while she wasn’t looking.
What do you feel sorry about that is probably just a huge waste of time and energy?
How do you feel when your baby cries?
Not talking about whingy crying – I mean proper, full lungs, face-like-a-scorched-potato crying, when no amount of soothing noises (or even stern reprimands) will work, and because you are out and about strangers look at you and silently judge you – ‘Your baby is crying! You must be a TERRIBLE MOTHER’ and I have to say, my resolve broke today, and I scooped her up out of the pram, even though I knew, I just knew, I would have to put her back in before we got home (ever tried walking downhill holding a baby and one-handedly wheeling a pram? No, didn’t think so) and that would upset her even more. She was hungry – I’d timed the outing all wrong, and assumed I would manage to get back home in time for next feed, but woe, we did not – so it was all my fault, and I felt so guilty. GUILTY. I’ve never felt so much guilt in all my life since I’ve become a mother. It’s unbelieveable. I am frequently amazed by the guilt I feel, on a daily basis.
This is what I feel guilty about:
- her weight. She’s a perfectly normal weight. But I worry: SHOULD SHE BE HEAVIER?? (answer is no, she’s fine she’s fine she’s fine, for goodness’s sake)
- her teeth. They haven’t even come through yet and already I feel guilty. I feel bad that they’re hurting her, and that I can do very little to help, short of plying her with drugs, which I am reluctant to do, and therefore feel guilty about because they would numb her sodding gums. Egad!
- her intellectual development. She’s only 4 months old!! How smart do I want her to be?? (answer is VERY SMART)
- cuddles. Do I cuddle her enough? Does she feel loved? How do I know if she does or not? This sort of question drives me nuts, usually at 3am when she makes a sad little noise in her sleep and I think that is her way of telling me she is soooooo lonely…
- her social life. I wasn’t very sociable when she was a newborn, and as a consequence she only ‘knows’ 2 other babies. Both boys. To be fair, a better pair of friends she couldn’t hope for, as they are both gorgeous little chaps and their mums are too (gorgeous that is, not chaps). But should she be on playing terms with other babies, preferably some girl babies? (well, answer is yes, so I have been making an effort. But that’s a whole other post)
And the list goes on. I think those are the main points, the big hitters, the ones that I keep returning to when the niggly little day-to-day guilt trips fade momentarily and I have an urge to feel guilty about something just because that is NORMAL now. Sigh. I don’t think it will end, either – am pretty sure it’ll last well into her adulthood, for example, when her personal debt spirals out of control and I feel guilty because I insisted she go to university even though it cost £30,000 and she had no hope of a job at the end of it. See, I worry about that now, and she’s 4 months old. FOUR MONTHS.
Better start saving then.