The struggle is real with our guilt.
One was six weeks old and the other fourteen months and it still feels like yesterday. I can vividly recall what happened. The sun was out and we were all smitten with our newborns and our prams.
She was just a toddler, the oldest one in our bunch of newborns and walking beside the pram didn’t look like much fun for this one.
So she bolted and I ran. She wouldn’t walk beside me, no plan on doing what I wanted. Why should she, she wanted to play. She played the game well ‘of come and get me’ The pressure of a well behaved toddler was immense, sweat lashing of me and all the while feeling like I was failing as a new mama.
Eventually I grabbed her and she squirmed and screamed. I felt embarrassed and let down. The new mummies looked on, we were all learning. We still are. I got her in the car both of us red faced and tear stricken. I was losing this battle of being the ‘perfect’ mum.
I shouted at her, I looked at her little ginger curls and wished with all my heart she had just stuck to the script – my script.
I never took into consideration she was learning, she had just had a little sister gatecrashing her family and she needed me to understand and give her grace. Why didn’t I give her grace? I was so angry with myself, so cross that no-one told me it would be like this, how did I not know this??
The guilt of that day still hits me, along with countless others. There may always be countless others.
This little one that day drove me crazy and I Ioved her more, she drove me into God and I held her so tight that night and whispered over and over again ‘I am so sorry I had silly expectations of you’
Guilt is paralysing. It can stay around a while. It can stay with all night as you put them to bed, it can stay with all day as they run into school.
Moments of madness don’t stay with you forever, but I have learned the guilt hangs around for a long time! Its immobilising, we get stuck, it defines us and no one wins.
Like the time I shouted at Noah for wearing the bowl of cereal down his freshly cleaned uniform, my look of disbelief, his look of shame. I was hassled, we were late and when the bowl went south and on to him and the table, I blamed him.
I cried till I was sore when school started. His look of shame. I needed a friend and breathed so deeply when she was vulnerable and we shared our struggles.
Oh to hear a ‘me too’ and handed a cup of tea on all of these occasions, would we not be better mums?
Oh to start that day again.
Later, I sat him down and said sorry till tears came down my face. My sweet boy just answered simply, “Please don’t worry mummy I have forgotten about that a long time ago.’ His words forever a memory.
In reality I didn’t care about the shirt or the split milk, we never do, but life got in the way and I wanted to be on time more than I wanted to show patience and love, and so the guilt of not doing enough, the guilt of doing too much was there.
The feelings of trying to do your best and never feeling you are getting it right. Carry this burden we will but live in the present we must.
I always want to defy time. I want to stay where we are with the early morning snuggles and the bed head hair. The loud dinner table chat, the toy kitchens and the Grufflalo stories. I want to forget that everyone is growing up and life is evolving. I don’t want to be distracted with questions about what exactly is too much TV – oh the guilt of the TV!
Or when and how should be teaching them how to pee in the toilet, colours and letters and don’t get me started on what they eat (or DON’T)
I want to enjoy these moments in the here and now savour them and not look back crying because it is over but smiling because it happened (Dr Seuss)
My family thrives best when I surround myself with parents at the same stage and parents who are a bit ahead. Those who know comparison in the thief of joy and judgement is far from their lips. The ones who join with me like a three legged race and say lets do this together. Ones who won’t let me fall but continue to whisper ‘this too will pass’
As I was writing this blog I came across this from a friend of mine Mel on her Instagram. Mel has some great things to say but she quoted this quote from L.R. Knost and it sums all of this up perfectly…….
‘Parenting has nothing to do with perfection. Perfection isn’t even the goal, not for us, not for children. Learning together to live well in an imperfect world, loving each other despite or even because of our imperfections, and growing as humans while we grow out little humans, those are the goals of gentle parenting.
So don’t ask yourself at the end of the day if you did everything right. Ask yourself what you learned and how well you loved, then grow from your answer. That is perfect parenting’