Guilt is a powerful emotion. It has its place and can tell you when you have done wrong but it also an emotion that can cause you to be paralyzed in your life. You can be unable to enjoy the moment because you feel guilty about the last. Guilt filled parenting is flooding the world. Every parent has guilt because we believe that we aren't doing things right. We feel guiltily about shouting, missing moments and not doing activities. We compare ourselves endlessly to other parents and only see what they are doing right and fail to see there own struggles and often their own guilty emotions. As mothers and fathers we are caught from all sides. Parents yelling out there opinions as though it is the law. Parents hearing the opinions and then feeling guilty for not doing it. Mothers feel guilty because they go to work and leave there children at home or daycare. We feel guilty because we can't spend all that time with our kids and miss out on so much. We then feel guilty because we still need me time and taking that means more time away from the kids. Mothers at home can feel guilty because they should be doing so much more, they want to do activities but because they are on one income their budget is limited. They feel guilty because since they are at home they should have all the Martha Stewart things down whilst providing a delightful home cooked meal and immaculate house. Then you look at schooling and you feel guilt over that. The heated debates and emotional driven arguments only add to the flames, of whether you should be sending your kids to school; public, private or at home. Each side is convinced they are right and at times will beat the other until they are left feeling horrible.
I guess part of the problem is every parent knows that what they are deciding on is life changing and will impact their child. Some parents out of guilt allow their child to get what they want and do what they want. Some parents never allow independence, failure. Others are so free the child is left spinning
As a mother of two small children who works outside of the home I am filled with guilt. I feel guilty because I come home tired and unable to be that perfect mother. I feel guilty because I cannot pick up my child from school and attend every function. I feel guilty because my house is a mess and not they way I like it. Twice a week I take a little me time and go horse riding. A moment of just me but afterwards I feel I should have been at home. I beat myself up because I am not doing arts and crafts 5 times a week. reading endless books and allow my children to watch more than the recommended amount of TV. I feel guilty of discipline because then even the little time I have with them, I am being the mean mother. All I often see, is the I should and the I don't. What I need to see is the I have and I do. I need to see and remember the Saturday morning moments when we all pile in the bed and cuddle and play. I need to see how my son always wants to tell me what is happening in school. The fact that two children run to me when I get home from work. The trips we do make to the park, the library. The effort and time we take to see all our family even though they live in other countries. The memories they will have of trips to see Grandma and Granddad. Time with friends and after-school activities. I know that working outside of the home has its downfalls but I need to know that because of that we get to travel to family as well as other things. Being a teacher I also get all the holidays off with my kids. Three days for Thanksgiving, over a week at Christmas, Spring break (Easter) and of course 2 wonderful months off in the summer.
As parents we need to remember we are doing our best. Each family is walking the line of what works for them and which ever way we look there is something that we are not doing. Sometimes we can change it but if takes work and time. We need to not feel guilty when we fail as after all we are only human and it is also humans we are raising. These children are beautiful gifts that we get to watch and help. There is a huge amount of responsibility that comes with these children but when we do things wrong and fail we need to not let the guilt get us. When we make a decision we need to remember that we made it for the best reasons and not feel guilty afterwards. As parents we must strive to enjoy the moment to remember the good. To not let guilt over things we cannot change to hold us back. Each night I plan to hug my children and tell them I love them. But if one night I work late and miss that moment I need to not feel guilty because they still know I love them. As a mother I look at my mother and marvel and who she was as a mother. My mother may remember the bad and have the guilt of what she did or did not do but I remember the love and the happiness. The funny memories and the cuddles.