Suburban Snapshots

The Guilt Factor

Friday, August 06, 2010

Subscribe to almost any parenting blog and you'll undoubtedly see the word "guilt" appear in roughly every other post. We have guilt about working, about not working, about discipline and spoiling, we feel badly about our sex lives, full sinks, and empty fridges.

So I'm boycotting guilt, at least on a few things. I'm not going to guilt myself and I won't give the voices of not-my-kid's-parents any airtime, either.

1. Divided attention. I think about Anna 95% of the time (you can do the math on that to figure out how it's affecting my sex life). When she's at school, I wonder what she's having for breakfast, whether or not she's socializing, if her teachers will send her home in a fine dusting of sandbox dirt all stuck to whatever lunch is left on her chin. I wake up with her ("Mama, I waked up!"), eat with her, read to her, shop with her. So if she crumbles to the floor because I'm too busy reading emails on my iPhone while not getting her juice "IN THE GREEN CUP," I'm going to finish typing and then pour her juice only after I've posted a pic of her in full-tantrum to Facebook.

2. Drive-Thrus. We recycle. We buy 95% post-consumer toilet paper that actually has a grit rating; I'm almost positive I could see a faded, old grocery list on one roll. We rescued 3 dogs from, if not certain euthanasia, then definitely inadequate spoiling. We rarely water the lawn (lazy is the new green). So if I take Anna to Dunkin' Donuts for sprinkle Munchkins, or to McDonald's because it's too hot to cook, I make no apologies. And I'm damn sure not going to unbuckle her, bring her inside, then spend 45 minutes negotiating her back into the car seat while she screams for Playland.

3. Television. I always find myself qualifying Anna's TV time to people, "Oh she watches TV, but just PBS Kids/only for a couple hours/just when we're snowed in and about to go all Shining up in this piece." But whatever, Anna watches well beyond the AAP's recommendations. Anyone who walks past our picture window will tell you that her favorite episode of Backyardigans is Movers and Shakers. Amazingly, she's still intelligent and active, and my dishwasher is currently unloaded.

4. Reading. There are 5 books next to Anna's bed. Some nights she only wants one, other nights she wants them all. Some nights I run into her room before bedtime and hide Fox in Sox because I cannot effing stand it. I've been known to skip the pages of Scarecrow Pete, because damn that book can drag out a bedtime. Oh and The Napping House read on CD? I take advantage of that, too, despite the godawful hippie music that accompanies the story — kiss, press play, lights out.

5. Leaving. That's right. Sometimes I leave her home. I leave her at Grandma's. One night I left in tears, another day I left on a workout just to escape the combined force of Anna and her dad's miserable attitudes. Often when I calculate the amount of time an errand will take me with her vs. solo, factoring in buckles, re-applied shoes, and parking lot crossings, I slip out alone because you just can't leave kids out in the car like the old days.

I'm deciding to keep some of my life for just me, without guilt. I'm still a great mom to an amazing kid, period.

So what are you going to stop feeling guilty about?

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