I remember the first time I felt this "mommy guilt" and it was literally one day after Jalen was born. I had had a difficult labour that ended up in a c-section. I was so sick and drugged with pain medication that I remember finally "coming to" a day later. My new baby boy was crying, and I tried feeding him and I didn't know what to do to make the crying stop. A friend was visiting me in the hospital room at the time and she said "Did you change him?" It hadn't even occurred to me as a new mom that I should change his diaper. I opened his teeny diaper to find a big mess and started bawling. I was thinking "what kind of a mother doesn't think to change her babies diaper?" And so it began....
I used to be so critical of other parents, like "those" kind of parents who yell at their kids in public, and "those" kind of kids who were not so well mannered and figured the parents screwed up big time! Alex and I being child and youth workers would surely not end up with a child like "that." With time, I could see that a "child like that" could happen to any of us. My son dug his fingernails into one of his friends arms at the park the other day and I was mortified. I talked to the other mom later that night and apologized on behalf of my son's behaviour and she was like "don't worry about it..." but I did. I worried all night...what can i do...what did i do wrong?
They say being a parent is the most important job on earth, and it is. We are raising the human beings that will grow up and someday run this country. However, I feel like moms need to take it easy on ourselves. I mean, until I was 25 I never ingested a single organic food item. I grew up in a time when a good spank on the bum was all a child needed to behave. Timeout's where not even a part of the vocab in the 70's and 80's. What do you know...I turned out somewhat okay. The problem is, we don't want our kids to turn out somewhat okay. I want my kids to thrive with joy, not just survive with whatever scraps I throw their way, so to speak. New studies apparently say that a healthy dose of guilt is good for us. Just so long as the guilt is not weighing on us for things that we really aren't guilty for. Losing my cool...guilty. Feeling resentful...guilty. Buying junk food...guilty. Using bribes and rewards in my parenting...guilty.
Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the would have should have's that often cause guilt and don't stop to realize the positives that our children already possess. I need to remind myself of the fact that Jalen is creative, and funny. The fact that he loves books so much and already knows dozens by heart and can sound out words. Jalen is thoughtful and inquisitive....charming and loving. Ruby is sweet and gentle, nurturing and very good with manipulating small objects. Puzzles are no problem, she is thoughtful and patient with tasks. More than once people have commented on how well behaved my children are at the grocery store, at parties or wherever. However I choose to focus on the times when maybe the social skills weren't at their best (ie. digging finger nails into friend) or the times when potty training didn't go so well. Perhaps like gratitude, focusing on the good things we are grateful for each day, we should focus more on the hundreds of positive things that we have done and do as moms each day.