May 212012

We will screw up.  We will drop the baby.  We will leave the toddler in his diaper so long that it will slide down his leg and settle around his ankle.  We will put our foot down and refuse to let our preschooler leave the house in a black negligee even though we know it’s his version of a Batman costume.  And the list goes on….

We’re human, we’re fallible, and we will make mistakes – some of them huge – which we will feel terrible about.

The good news is: our kids will survive and we will too.

This brings me to today’s episode of parental guilt.  This has been a crazy week and it’s only Wednesday.  It doesn’t look like the frantic pace will ease up much until about a week from now so I was really looking forward to a few quiet moments alone (in the car) while waiting for my oldest to finish a sax lesson.  

Enter child #3. The baby. My girl.  Somehow she got it in her pre-teen head that she would go with me, that she needed to spend time with me, that she couldn’t survive without me.

Jealously guarding my ‘me-time’ I said no.


That’s when the tears and pleading began: “I’ll read my book!  I’ll be quiet!  I won’t bother you!”
No. (Holding firm)
“I really need to go with you! Don’t leave me!”
Oy.  More than a twinge of guilt at this point as I peeled her sobbing self off me and slid out the door.  Alone.

So was it worth it?  I definitely feel refreshed after just 30 minutes alone, but would I have felt just as renewed if she’d been with me?  Maybe.
Was she permanently damaged by my ‘rejection’?  I certainly hope not.  Does the fact that I spent 90 minutes leading her Girl Scout meeting earlier in the day make a difference?  Who knows.   
Do I still feel a twinge of guilt? Absolutely.

But the key is what that guilt motivates me to do.  

Do I owe her something because I didn’t take her with me? Nope. At least not in the way you might think.  No toy, no article of clothing, not even a special chocolate treat will ever or should ever be a substitute for genuine affection and focused attention.  A great big hug, heartfelt words of concern and an effort to participate in something important to her will go much further.  I might also owe it to both of us to say no to the next project.  Not to all of them, but the next one.

For now, my alone time is up.  On to the next thing.  

I have solved nothing but I’m jumping back into my life with both feet, sure to make more mistakes, but we’ll survive.  We’ll survive asking forgiveness, laughing together, and refusing to give up on each other.  

 Posted by at 16:31