The other night I was snuggled on the sofa reading my kids a bedtime story, glass of wine in hand and the TV on in the background when the 'Drink Aware' ad came on. You know, the one which implies that you should never consume alcoholic beverages in front of your children or else they will most likely become smelly toothless winos and live under a bridge swilling home brand gin from a paper bag? I took a sip of my wine, gazed at the angelic faces of my babies and thought 'Oh my God, they watch too much TV.'
Guilt. From the moment my children were conceived I was wracked with it. It was as if along with the embryonic offspring in my belly, grew my own personal courtroom in my mind, complete with its own tiny little judge and jury. The judge was tough with countless verdicts of guilt handed down each day. I was shit-faced the night before I found out I was pregnant with Ollie. GUILTY. I breastfed Daisy for 15 months and Ollie for only six. GUILTY. I haven't read them enough stories today. GUILTY. I've let them eat biscuits, an icy pole, a choccy frog and watch 47 hours of TV. GUILTY. I've fed them sausages three nights in a row. GUILTY. And so, the list of convictions reads on.
Guilt is a beastly burden, laden upon the weary shoulders of motherhood. I regularly hear my friends mutter self-deprecating statements such as 'I won't be winning Mother of the Year today' because of some perceived injustice they have committed against their offspring. Are we giving our children enough attention? Should we be taking them to kiddie yoga, Italian culture appreciation classes, tap and modern dance? Should we have gone back to work? Is controlled crying going to fuck them up for life? Should we have had that third Tim Tam?
When a child is born, so is a superwoman. This superwoman is expected to be a Olympic-level juggler with countless balls and flaming sticks magically twisting and twirling through the air in harmoniously co-ordinated order. (In my case the balls, flaming sticks and me spent most of the early months of my children's lives crumpled in a messy heap on the floor.*) We want be the bestest, most loving, nurturing, stylish, cleverest, reasonable income earning, witty, gourmet uber-mum in the history of the world. When we don't think we meet those sky scraper expectations, there follows our old friend- guilt.
I am no good Catholic girl but you, my darling 29 regular readers, are the dog-collared confidants in my own virtual confession box of the blogsphere.
Forgive me people for I confess...
- I have forgotten to pay for the squeezy yogurt I gave the kids to shut them up while we did the supermarket shopping on at least three occasions.
- I let Daisy watch TV while I have a nana nap on the couch most afternoons.
- I have drunk wine straight from the bottle in the middle of a particularly challenging day.
- I regularly forget to brush my kid's teeth.
- I sometimes use the dryer on nice days because I can't be arsed hanging the washing out.
- I slightly favour one child over the other.
- I shout too much.
- I swear in front of the children.
- I'm no good at saying no.
Perhaps it's time to evict that little judge and jury from the courtroom in my mind for-
I AM INNOCENT!
(But now I am feeling slightly guilty for ignoring the kids for the past two hours while I wrote this. Bugger.)
*This crumpled messy heap is also known as Post-Natal Depression. More on that another day.