It was never insinuated, suggested or considered that with the role of motherhood comes a permanent feeling of guilt. It was in none of the baby books, Kaz Cooke never told me that when this little bundle of joy comes into your life, so will the never-ending weight of feeling “bad”. Of all the emotions I’ve felt with my children, this one is, by far, the hardest. Frustration and bad tempered from lack of sleep I can handle, small doses of sadness as they grow all too quickly is something I have learnt to endure. The truly awesome feeling of pride, love and happiness is obviously one I lap up daily, but the feeling of guilt is one I find hard to escape.
Last month’s school holidays, I felt decidedly average. Everyone had been down with a cold meaning all outdoor activities and adventures were put on hold. Miss 10 was cuddled up on the couch, nursing her version of death (a really nasty flu bug), which she then proceeded to generously share with Mr 8 and Miss 4 respectively. At least each one had the decency to get mildly better before the next one crashed into a plethora of snot and mucus! And so the whinging began, because I had not had the foresight to see this bout of average-ness and had not provided them with adequate housebound entertainment. So I felt bad.
Last week, I had to leave my house, my husband and children for 24 hours. Circumstances had it that I had to go out of town for an entire day, leaving my family to fend for themselves. It took me a total of 48 hours to prepare for the one day I was to be away, making sure school and work lunches were packed, uniforms were laid out, transportation to and from school arranged and dinner cooked for the following evening. But as I left my house, knowing I had done everything I possibly could to make their time without me as painless and manageable as possible, my kids began to cry. They would miss me, and I them, but I had to go. This was out of the realm of “being Mum”, it had no relevance to my family at all. So I felt bad.
This morning, I looked out the window to see a miserable day. Remembering that yesterday was all sunshine and powder-puff clouds, I cringed at the thought of just how much stuff Miss 4 would’ve left outside on the back lawn. On closer inspection, I found a pair of new sandals, some socks, some random (thankfully waterproof) toys and her sisters NINTENDO DS!! Nestled in the grass, soaking wet! I won’t lie, I shouted. I lost my shit. I went ballistic. She was so scared by my outburst she put her little fingers in her mouth and backed into a corner as I yelled, not at her but in the general vicinity of the offence. After discerning that the DS was in fact salvageable, I calmed down and told Miss 4 that she was forbidden to touch her sister’s belongings again (Miss 10 actually didn’t give a rats arse what had happened, her Ipod Touch took preference to a hot pink DS long ago!). But when I kissed her goodbye at Kindy this morning, she whispered in my ear, “I’m sorry again Mummy”. So I felt bad.
It seems that with the neverending, undying love for your children comes the inevitable, eternal feeling of guilt when you just don’t seem to get it right. I worry all the time about the damage I might be inflicting on my children when I don’t quite follow the “rules” and everything turns to shit! But I guess if I didn’t feel bad about the things I do wrong, I wouldn’t know what it’s like to feel good when I, sometimes, get it right!!
By Clancy Briggs
Clancy Briggs has been “learning on the job” since becoming a Mum 10 years ago. She struggles daily with her role in the home as well as in the world and is a self-proclaimed “sporadically irresponsible” parent! She lives with her 3 gorgeously feral children, her long-suffering husband and their domestic zoo, is seriously addicted to chocolate and the idea that someday she will find her inner enlightenment and everything in her life will run smoothly!
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