Sunday, August 9, 2009

guilt

I have been thinking alot about guilt. Many of us feel guilty when we have our second child. We feel guilty that the love we presume to feel for that second will somehow detract from the love that we have showered exclusively on our one and only first child. Not to mention our true one and only. ( Remember that those kids up and leave you, if you've done your job well, and your partner will be around for the rest of your life... in a perfect world.) Love is like the candles on a birthday cake: the more candles, the more wishes and light. More people to love equals more love to go around. Much more. It's exponential.

We feel guilty if we choose to have only one child also. Then we decide that we are somehow depriving our "only" of the opportunity to have a sibling and experience all that rivalry and the lessons learned with sharing and waiting our turn and giving up our privavcy. Not to mention the guilt about leaving that "only" to care for us alone, in our aged- infirmity and neediness. And the pain of our deaths: that is somehow supposed to be lessened if we can spread the misery of grief aound the family.

We feel guilty if we have a beloved pet and all of of sudden it's not our "baby" anymore. Atleast if the kid and the pet don't get along, we can rationalize sending the pet to another family or even to that famous pet farm they often go to. Can't send a child away, if the pet and the child or the number 1 and number 2 don't like each other.

We feel guilt that we don't want our mother's around. We feel guilty that we don't want them to be in the delivery room with us and we feel guiltier that we don't want them telliing us what to do ( and encouraging the same mistakes they made ) when the baby comes home. We feel guilty that all we really want them to do is cook and clean and also do the 2:00 am feedings.

We feel guilty that we don't want to go back to work. Or guilty that we can't wait to get back to work. We feel guilty if we don't find the absolutely best childcare in the whole world and then we feel guilty when they cry when we drop them off.

We feel guilty when the baby cries and we are so tired we can't stand up or see straight and we are the only ones who can go in the night to feed them. We feel guilty when they have baby acne and diaper rash and really guilty when they have colic. We are either eating too much chocolate or they instinctively know that we don't know what we are doing and can't soothe them.

We feel guilty that we have no time for our friends. We feel guilty that we are too tired to exercise. We feel guilty that we don't want to have sex. And we feel guilty that we haven't made dinner or washed clothes or brushed our teeth. We feel extraordinarily guilty that we really want to pass the baby off to our partner the minute they walk in the house, especially when we haven't done anything all day and they have been out slaving away. And those days when we come home from the grocery store or the doctor or having a great time out for lunch alone, we feel oh so guilty when we don't want the baby handed back to us right away.

It's alot of guilt. But none to compare with the guilt we feel when we think that maybe we made the wrong decision. And motherhood ain't all it's cracked up to be. We feel guilty alot of the time. I said hurry up for all the years my children lived with me. Guilty for all my thoughts and all the times I yelled and screamed and wanted it all to go away. And then it did. I have apologized to my children so many times for the mistakes that I made. I have cited instances that have plagued me for all these years and they don't know what I am talking about. They have forgotten or never noticed in the first place.

I felt so guilty that I made sure that they didn't feel guilty about the way they were growing up and leaving me. And you know what: they don't. Please remember that your children don't belong to you. In fact, it's the opposite. You belong to them. And when it's time for them to fly, well, you hope that they do. You can feel guilty about that too. They are supposed to do just that. It's in the nature of things.

And it's a very good idea that you nuture yourself and your friends and your partner and everyone else because if you don't you will be pining for those kids and wondering what, in heavens name you felt so guilty about. Make mistakes and learn from them. Live your life and do your thing. Someone told me once that guilt is pretty senseless because it's just a feeling, that's all. It doesn't mean a thing. Feelings come and go. So do your kids.