If you’re a Mom and have not ever experienced any MOM GUILT, you should write a book and speak at parenting conferences (unless you’re a sociopath incapable of feeling remorse; no one in this society needs lessons on how to be self-centered and -serving). I may be predisposed to experience guilt-feelings because of an unhealthy, co-dependent relationship with my mom I while I was growing up, and often felt guilty as a child for even having any needs, and didn’t allow myself ‘wants’. Now, as a Mom, the burden of guilt lies even heavier on me.
Feelings of guilt began early, while I was still pregnant with my first child. I miscarried and felt it must somehow be my fault. When I learned I was still pregnant after the miscarriage, I was overjoyed but spent the rest of the pregnancy fearful. When I was ordered bed rest about eighty days before I was due to deliver, I felt guilty for not working, because with no income, how was I going to take care of a baby; I felt guilty for not preparing the apartment for baby’s arrival, because unless I was really at rest, lying on my left side, my blood pressure skyrocketed.
When, 8 1/2 weeks before baby was due, she was taken by emergency c-section, I felt like perhaps I hadn’t rested well enough and her premature birth was my fault. I felt guilty that I had not given birth naturally. I felt immense shame at my own weakness: I was so sick still that it was two days before I could get out of bed to go to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and hold MK for the first time; I was afraid we wouldn’t bond.
I can see this would become a very lengthy post, if I continue to detail every guilt I carry, so it’s time to switch to list form…
During the first few months of MK’s life, she did receive breast milk because I pumped, but she was not able to latch on, so after those first few months, my milk dried… a source of great shame to me.
I felt guilty when I was on maternity leave because I had no money and couldn’t adequately provide for us.
I felt guilty when I returned to work and had to leave MK at daycare.*
I felt guilty when I missed milestones because I was at work.
I felt guilty that, even though I have always had a job, it’s never been quite enough and I’m always broke… I feel like a failure because my kids wear secondhand clothes out of necessity and ride in a car that isn’t safe because I can’t afford a new one.
I felt too guilty to leave MK when I wasn’t at work for several years, so until she was five, I didn’t go out with friends or date or spend any free time away from her.
I felt guilty for starting to date; I even felt guilty when my husband and I got married, for changing her life so drastically.
I felt guilty for having a second child, when we were broke with only one.
I feel guilty, still, for the lack of time to spend with both kids because of working full time.*
I feel guilty because my house is a mess… because the kids don’t have all the ‘stuff’ their peers have… because I lost my home and moved them to a new city, a new school and another huge change for my firstborn… the list goes on and on.
I’m sure I’m not alone in my feelings of guilt. I’m sure most parents feel a twinge at least from time to time. Do you?
*This subject, guilt of a working mom, is one for another blog, as it’s a pretty big part of my life as a mom.