Is Guilt Really Synonymous with being a Parent?

Is Guilt Really Synonymous with Being a ParentThose who already know the gory details of my childhood will know that I had a very dysfunctional start to life.

Going through the things I did when I was a kid, meant that I was hell bent from a very young age to not repeat history, and ensure I gave my own children a better start to life than the one I had.

At points it seemed absolutely impossible that I could fix my damaged head and broken heart. I didn’t think I’d ever find true love before bringing babies into the world.

It was a tall order, but I did it.

A few years ago I wrote this

“Myself and my hubby are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we are 100% focussed on our kids. When we have a problem, we face it head on and try to find the best solution all round for the family. We don’t fool ourselves that we need lots of materialistic possessions to make us happy. We don’t need to maintain some fancy lifestyle that was adhered to pre-children. We lead a modest life, but it is full of love and that is more important than anything money could buy.”

I surmised that a healthy bit of parental guilt is totally normal, and perfectly expected given the modern world we live in, and everything it entails. I also said that excessive amounts of guilt must stem from somewhere deeper, needing self-reflection to get to the bottom of it.

That was when I had a pre-schooler, albeit a challenging one, and a baby to contend with. I didn’t have even have the twinkle in my eye of a third child. I wasn’t an autism mum. I felt quite broken by sleep deprivation, but it had only been three-odd years of it, not a completely and utterly torturous six-odd years. I wasn’t consumed with guilt over everything and nothing, because essentially I had nothing to feel guilty about.

This weekend I messed up. Massively!

My 4yo was invited to a birthday party, and I wrote the wrong day on the calendar. I had it in as Sunday, it was actually Saturday. I found out at 9:30pm on Saturday night, just as I was thinking about going to bed. I then spent an hour agonising over what a crap mum I was and what I could offer up to my beautiful girl as an alternative.

I keep hearing that ‘regular kids’ are very resilient, and although my middle girl is, she also has lots extra on her plate that most regular kids don’t have to even consider. This is where most of my guilt comes from. The worry that her childhood is going to be stolen from all that extra stuff her little friends never have to think about. 

On the rare occasion that we had something lovely planned that was all hers, I went and messed it up. So yes, I’m beating myself with a huge stick right about now, because I’m a human, not a robot.  

I’m also going to take this opportunity to indulge her with my time and love today. We’re going to watch a film at the cinema that we wouldn’t normally be able to, due to it scaring her sister. We’re going to eat all her favourite food that we usually steer clear of (starting with fish and chips for lunch). Ultimately I will try my best to make up for the disappointment. 

I’ll also try to not feel so guilty about my mistake, but I’d be lying if I said I could promise it.  

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11 thoughts on “Is Guilt Really Synonymous with being a Parent?

  1. Guilt – it’s what motherhood is ALL about, isn’t it?! πŸ˜‰ Seriously though, I think it’s just part and parcel of being a parent. We’re not perfect, we all make mistakes and sometimes that means we screw up pretty bad, but with guilt, comes love, and that when applied can pretty much heal anything I reckon. Even a missed birthday party. πŸ™‚ Hope you all had a lovely day together X

  2. As always a post that makes me think and be reflective. There are so many emotions wrapped up with having children and worrying is something that I think is underlying for me because I always want them to be doing / having the best they can be. Sometimes I think when you are reflective and step back, looking at them being happy, then you realise there is no real need for concern / worry. Guilt is another emotion all together, and one that takes varying degrees. I too would be feeling guilty for missing the party but that’s human nature, and that guilt should soon pass as you’re going to go over and above to make up for it and your daughter will love you for the day you have planned. Living in the moment and doing the best you can here and now is enough to eliminate any guilt.
    Enjoy your day xx

  3. You’re so right on that – no one is perfect – but as long as we learn from our mistakes over time they will become life lessons and not things to be regretted. For me, as long as I can put my hand on my heart and say ‘I did my best’ that is good enough. Striving for perfection is counter-productive. Hopefully the kids will see it that way too πŸ™‚ xx

  4. I really like this post. It’s very true what you say about overly feeling guilty, I’m sure I’m one of those people and I think I would benefit hugely from a bit of reflection. People don’t always work everything out before they do things though, no need to really. Life is about going with the flow and we’re only human, we make mistakes but hopefully learn from them. No one is perfect x

  5. You make a good point about perhaps having kids before figuring out what you want in life. Not thought about that before, but now you’ve said it, it does ring true. I don’t feel any more than that healthy dose of mother’s guilt you mention, but then I was ready for our kids, we waited, did things we wanted to do, which allows me to never feel resentful of them and no guilt seeps in. Great post, got me thinking x

  6. As always an insightful and emotionally intelligent post. I make a distinct effort to separate worry/concern from guilt – I reserve guilt for when I am actually at fault. I think you are so right that a little self reflection is important, allowing guilt to take over is counterproductive – especially when really, there is nothing to be guilty for. Thank you so much for linking up to #ThePrompt xx

  7. Lovely prompt and resulting post. I like that you have resisted the temptation to wallow in guilt, picturesque as that can seem in a piece of writing. This is a really authentic, inspirational piece.

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