PARENTS

Three Into Four: Guilt

18/09/2012 16:53 | Updated 22 May 2015
Three Into Four: GuiltWe also watched Tangled last week. Guilty again!

Is it just me, or does every parent spend at least part of their day feeling some degree of guilt?

So, while I don't feel so bad that I let my daughter watch Beauty and the Beast last Tuesday - because she woke up at 5:45 and my ability to function as a parent doesn't start until 6am, on a good day - the fact that Daddy was stuck at work late and I ended up making fish fingers and peas instead of a proper home-cooked meal the following night did leave me with a bad conscience.

On top of everything, I am now dealing with the highly unpleasant double whammy of parental guilt and pregnant person guilt (triple guilt if you count how bad I felt after yelling at Bolshy the other day after he'd wet the couch - the poor dog has a urinary tract infection and couldn't help it, but I was still furious since I was the unsuspecting person who sat in it without realising).

It seems like I have two modes these days: highly strung and anxious, or feeling guilty about the method I've chosen to relieve that anxiety. Like the other day, when I got a huge frozen yoghurt - something I've been fantasising about for months - felt happy for about 30 minutes and then spent my afternoon worried that me and my unborn baby had contracted listeriosis as a result.

Some level of anxiety and fear of failure is normal when raising a toddler - you spend most of every day responsible for another human life, after all, so I think fretting about something or other is a pretty normal state of being. But my guilt is turning into a full-time job.

When Diana approached me the other day and said, 'No work, Mummy, no work,' as I was opening up my laptop to send an email, I naturally felt guilty, even though I have spent countless hours justifying my work-from-home lifestyle and am generally pretty happy with it.

I've upped my workload recently - yet another thing to feel guilty about, probably - but considering I plan to take a proper maternity leave this time (unlike the last time, when I was back at my computer, with Diana nursing in my lap, about a week-and-a-half after I gave birth because I was so panicked that stopping work might mean I wouldn't start again), I should feel fine about working a few more hours' each day for the next few months. Especially since I'm enjoying it. But I can't help but feel a pang in my stomach whenever I'm on the computer in D's presence.

I also realise that maybe this isn't all about me - work is a dirty word for Diana since every morning, when she wakes up and eagerly asks: 'Where's Daddy?,' I have to say, 'He's at work.' And one day she will understand that while we'd both love to sit and play and read and chat to her the whole day (well, most of the day, at least - I still need D to have those naps), until that happens, I need to feel confident in the choices I've made.

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