No one warns you of the guilt when you become a parent. Nothing you will ever do feels like it is the right thing, and because there is no definite right and wrong with any child (as they are all different), there is no way to tell when you are going wrong.
Of course, there are countless books and forums and websites where people claim to have found the right way of doing things, but let’s face it, these are the ones that have simply decided that the way THEY have tackled things with THEIR child/children/clients in THEIR situation was right for THEM.
That doesn’t mean it will work for anyone else.
I could list numerous occasions over the years where I have felt overcome by guilt as a parent for in various situations, but my basic one is “I am a working mum.”
That’s it really. My swathes of guilt, tears, self-hatred and depression come down to this. Every other guilty feeling comes off of the back of this – and believe me, it has just got worse as she has got older, not better.
In fact, I can quite honestly state that it is since The Girl has started secondary school that my guilt has peaked – at a time when I honestly thought that it would become more bearable.
I went back to work when she was less than 3 months old as we couldn’t afford otherwise – and the guilt started then.
Admittedly I was rather ill and undiagnosed for almost a year, and depression was a symptom of that, but that’s almost 13 years of guilt. This obviously includes the guilt that I split her family up (although really, honestly, if I was still living with her dad her life would’ve been so awful anyway that my guilt would’ve gone through the roof!)
But I thought it would ease as she got older. I especially thought that now that she is older, and spends more time independently, it would become easier as she is so much less reliant on me.
But it hasn’t – and it has been especially bad recently. Every single morning and every single evening over the past few weeks has been a battle with her – and every time one of us leaves the room, the first thought that pops into my head is “Would it be better if I wasn’t working? Would it be better if I was at home all day?”
Of course, if I was doing that, then we wouldn’t be in our home, and she wouldn’t be going on various trips, I wouldn’t have anything lying around that would be worth her stealing from me, and she wouldn’t have anything of value that she could break, lose or generally not take care of – but would we be happier?
Every time I ask myself that question, the only answer I can come up with is “I don’t know!”
I guess most of it is that she’s a (nearly) teenage girl, she has raging hormones, she is growing up and she thinks she knows everything – but my 13 year old guilt wont let me believe that it’s all anything other than my own fault. I have spoken to her calmly, we have tried writing things down, I have taken her out to talk things over on neutral territory. i have approached it in a hundred different ways.
At the moment we are at an absolute rock-bottom low, not helped by the fact that I don’t really want to live with anyone at the moment, and wish that her, The Man and the kittens would all just disappear one day and leave me happily alone.
Perhaps I need a holiday.
Perhaps I should never have decided to have a child.
Perhaps I should just let her get on with it all without comment.
Perhaps I should give up work.
Perhaps I should just accept I’m no different to anyone else!