Thursday Thoughts #14

Thursday Thoughts

Today I want to talk about the one little part of motherhood no one tells you about: parent guilt.

Before becoming a parent people tell you all about the lack of sleep, the constant fear of “living with your heart out of your chest,” and about the love you didn’t know you could give. You know that “a baby changes everything” and you’re {somewhat} prepared for countless dirty diapers and seemingly infinite feeding sessions; and you can never be prepared for the jump of your insides the first time your baby smiles at you or the first time you hear that giggle. Becoming a parent is a roller coaster of emotions!

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When you have two kids none of those feelings change, but they do multiply. Days definitely get harder and nights have the potential to disappear into a state of being constantly awake (depending on the sleeping habits of baby number one). But again, you’re not prepared for the immense releif when your oldest not only accepts the new addition to the family, but shows him love. You’re more aware of the feelings that come with new motherhood and they’re still magical with baby number two. There’s amazement that you truly can love two children equally and it didn’t come at a cost of division, but addition.

You know all of that. While you may not appreciate it or understand it until you experience it, you know it.

What you don’t know is the constant pang of guilt. And it’s a guilt that absolutely grows with the number of children. It’s those constant questions: Did I do enough today? Do my kids know I love them? Did I play enough? Was I on my phone too much? Did he watch too much tv? Are they happy?

And the answers aren’t always a simple yes or no answer.

Yes, you did enough. There are days after rough nights or sick days when you think you didn’t, but know you did. If you fed yourself and fed your kids, if you changed that diaper, if you said, “I love you,” you did enough.

Yes, your kids know you love them. You can see it in their smile, when they grab your hand, when they want to play with you, when they want you to sit next to them. Just take a look.

The third question is the one I have the hardest time answering. My son is 18 months old and is an incredible big brother, but I can tell he’s starting to exhibit jealousy. On days when my youngest is extra fussy or extra hungry my toddler starts acting out for attention. It’s the most difficult feeling to process. Both babies need me and there’s a balance that shifts daily. I’m learning to use Treat’s naptime not as a moment to check on the blog or edit a photo but to instead play with Firecracker. He doesn’t ask for much, he just wants to know that I’m not just there, that I’m present.

Which rolls us into “Am I on the phone too much?” I know that answer is “yes.” It’s something I’m trying to work on. I can make excuses for why I keep it near me at all times, but they’re not exactly valid. I don’t need to photograph every move my children make, I don’t need to answer that text message immediately, or read that email. It’s a hard habit to break. Some days I do much better at leaving my phone on the counter than others. Habits are easy to make and hard to break. All I can do is say, “I’m trying.”

“Did he watch too much TV?” Well, yes. According to the medical community at least. It’s something that I am again working on. We spend a lot of time playing in a room without a television, but when I need to nurse Treat we return to the couch and I throw on Thomas and Friends or Chuggington. And my son is slightly addicted to the TV, too. Each morning the first thing he asks for is “train! … peeease.” It’s that very first stretch of TV watching I’m trying to postpone by reading a couple of books instead. I don’t win everyday, but again, I’m trying. I take comfort knowing that my son is a ball full of energy who would still rather climb and run than sit still. A child who would much rather be playing outside and one who likes to escape the confines of the house. (Spring, are you here yet?)

But the number one concern of all parents: are my kids happy? I’d like to think mine are quite happy. And I know they are loved beyond any measurable quantity. If they feel just an ounce of the love I have for them, then I can be assured they are happy.

Parent guilt. It sucks. I don’t have any solutions to getting rid of this guilt, and I’m not sure I’d want to. Having it lets me know that I’m doing my best. And that’s good enough.

2 thoughts on “Thursday Thoughts #14

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