Heather is a mother of two boys who lives in North Carolina. A degree in Theater from Rutgers University has been absolutely no use in learning how to care for her boys, so she shares what she's learned from personal experience
The Guilt-Ridden Mom, The Second Time Around - After the birth of my second son, Maddox, my guilt doubled and then some. Now not only was I charged with the responsibly of raising and nurturing another little amazing life from scratch, but I had to do it just as well as the first time around in order to give them both equal advantages. All the while I was still giving and doing everything for my first in order that I did not wane in my responsibilities and promises to him. Everything made me feel guilty.
In the early months of Maddox’s life I was so worried that if I showed all the love and affection I had for him in front of Logan, I would create resentment and sibling rivalry. I was so concerned for Logan’s feelings that in the beginning I really didn’t get to enjoy Maddox, show him how much I love I had for him and how amazing I felt he was. Then, of course I began to feel guilty that by sparing Logan’s feelings I was cheating Maddox by not expressing my love for him. AAAHHHHH! I couldn’t win! Truly. Then one day I realized that little by little I would have to test it out. I needed to start expressing my love for Maddox in front of Logan if I was ever to be allowed to do so freely. I watched very closely for Logan’s reactions as I baby talked and gushed over my infant son. I included him in the baby talk and encouraged him to do the same. After a while it transitioned and we were both oohing and ahhing over the baby together and enjoying him to the fullest. But just as that guilt began to dissipate others took its place.
For example, when I went upstairs in search of absolute quiet in order to nurse Maddox before a nap or bedtime I was hit full force with guilt. Though I would set Logan up with a favorite show and sippy-cup filled with his favorite drink, still he was left alone to wait. I felt horrible, but I was doing what I needed in order to take care of Maddox who was unable to nurse because as good as Logan was, he hovered over me relentlessly while nursing. As Maddox got older he became easily distracted and successful nursing sessions required no distractions. I always made sure to make up for it when I came back down stairs sans baby by cuddling Logan or reading a book or just talking. During those moments upstairs nursing, I felt guilty for leaving Logan alone, and guilty that while nursing Maddox my mind was not fully present and in a way I was rushing through it instead of enjoying it and bonding with him.
As of now I feel guilty that I am still nursing Maddox at 10.5 months and plan to wean by a year, when I had only nursed Logan till 9 months. I feel guilty during all points of the day when I am playing with one and the other is playing alone, I feel guilty if I go out for any “me” time, I feel guilty if I buy for one and not the other, though I know that it is not and should not be about keeping it “even” just for the sake of it. I feel guilty when I drink a coffee that I desperately need too close to nursing time. I feel guilty watching TV-my favorite way to relax, when I could be putting my full attention on playing with one or both of them. I feel guilty that we have not signed Maddox up for any classes like we took Logan to at this age. Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!
I know it may seem that I live with constant guilt, and I probably do to some extent. But please do realize that I am letting you into my very heart and mind to experience what moms go through when raising their children and set the bar high to do right by them.
Overall the guilt is there all the time, but I have learned to keep it in check, and make it okay to sometimes let it go and accept I cannot always control and manage everything. Sometimes our kids have to learn to handle jealousy, adapt to situations and entertain themselves. Actually it is good for them. I know it is normal to feel guilt as a parent and I’ve come to feel it is part of human nature- a parent’s innate need to protect our children at all costs. Although it may seem to some in this article’s condensed version I was ready to be committed in a straight jacket, I know what I was feeling and still feel is normal. As long as it doesn’t actually interfere with my ability to parent and thrive myself, then I am confident that this torturous guilt is just another gift that comes with parenting
If you are amongst the guilt –ridden parents, take comfort in knowing that you are not crazy and you are not alone! Please write in with your feelings on the topic and share your stories of guilty parenting. Heather Whittington- a.k.a. “Guilty Mom”
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