If there is one thing that anxiety has brought that I would instantly return its the guilt.
I constantly worry about things and then end up feeling guilty about not making a decision quicker.
Then there are the times that I make a decision I am good with the decision and then my anxiety flares and its, well what if it went this way instead?
Did I just deprive her of some experience she will need later in life?
Then there are the times that I just can’t physically do something that I want to with her. Times that I have pushed myself and just have nothing left. Not even snuggling. It is so hard to beat that guilt back. I am doing the best I can , I know this.
When I did work I felt guilty if I didn’t spend every minute I did have with her. Then I was really too tired to enjoy my time with her. I learned to balance it all for a bit. As each illness was added I had to learn to balance again and again.
This isn’t really something new for me. Its always been there. I even remember my mother in a sigh of frustration telling me that we don’t live in a what if world. It has come back to haunt me as my daughter does this to me now.
When you add motherhood and pain to someone who already thinks of every possible outcome. All the time.
Through some years of therapy, medications to help the anxiety most of the time I can be very discerning in my decisions. Sometimes though it creeps back in. Its sneaky like that.
When it does I have to stop and think, is this something I can change in the future? Yes? Great. I will avoid this in the future by making a different decision the next time. Its not always that cut and dry. I often have to remind myself over and over that I will change it next time. I will remember next time. Sometimes this is where the guilt does come in handy as it etches it in my mind so that next time I do remember. In this way guilt can be good!
If its not something I can change, did I follow my gut? That little inside voice? Yes then I did the right thing and I just need to keep telling myself this. Sometimes over and over and over. I have not listened to that gut instinct before and it was the wrong thing to do. Many times in the first year of parenting I went with what others said and ignored that gut feeling. It always turned out that gut feeling was right. I can’t say I always do this right away….but I try.
I also think about this …Is this something I am comfortable with? Is this being true to who I am deep down? If I am not following what I believe is right for me and my family then guilt is sneaking in because of that. Does it follow with my values and my beliefs? Does it mean I stop trying different things? NO! I am constantly on the hunt for new ideas, different ways to try things. Because not only does it have to follow with what works for me, it also has to work for this small person that is my daughter.
I think the hardest thing to get past is when I have expressly said I would not do something and I do it. My education is in Early Childhood Education so I felt I knew what I was talking about. Its funny because a really small thing actually makes that guilt go away. It just melts off me. When I say to someone I thought I would never do this….boy was I wrong in that. It actually works better than I thought. Its such a relief to say it. To chuckle at the irony in it.
The last thing I ever thought would cause mommy guilt to rear its head is from comments from other mothers. This is probably the sneakiest way it sneaks in for me. I am good at saying oh thats not for me , or I have tried that it was a no go. Then sometimes even days later it sneaks up. That another mother has looked at me and found me wanting. Should this bother me…no. Does it? Yeah sometimes it does.
This is where I have to remind myself they are not walking in my shoes. They are not me. Their kid is not my kid. What works for them won’t always work for another. Really would we want everyone to parent the same exact way? I for one do not, it would make for a very boring world and diversity would soon be filtered out.
There are times that I feel guilty that my illnesses and pain issues leak over to my daughter. In some ways I think this has also been a blessing because my natural instinct is to place her in a bubble and protect her always. What I forget though is sometimes what she has to do is actually making her stronger. It is making her more self sufficient It is making her independent. Which in the long run is really the best thing for her. Even though it goes against my mothering instincts.
Guilt may have its place in motherhood sometimes….but its not something I welcome or want. I don’t think any of us really do.
Have I gotten rid of all my guilt? No…Don’t be silly. What I have started doing though is if there is something I am feeling particularly guilty about,Say reading aloud(because I really hate that!) I make sure to make time for it that day. Its not perfect but it makes me feel a little better.
Parenting is hard to begin with , chronic pain brings another layer to it. Remember what they typically say, if you are worried about it, you probably are doing everything right. Its the ones that don’t worry that don’t have that niggling little doubt that they may be doing something wrong that we should be worried about. Do I think I am a perfect parent? NO. Do I worry I am doing something wrong all the time? Well maybe not all the time but at the very very least once a week.