I got to thinking about parental guilt as I sipped some fancy gin and tonic the other night. I have ‘the guilt’ all the time and even though intellectually I know it’s a complete waste of my very limited time and energy, I can’t get rid of it easily. I suspect that it’s a life long thing that comes with the tiny humans.
I was talking to a friend the other night who was wallowing in ‘the guilt’ over an accident that her tiny human had. I told her a few of my parenting low-lights to make her feel better. It seemed to work.
So I wondered if we might all feel better if we shared some of the things that made us feel ‘the guilt’. In the spirit of non-judgemental, sharing-is-caring parenting, I’ve decided that I will go first, so here are a selection of my worst parenting moments for your non-judgemental pleasure.
I say non-judgemental because I’ve already judged myself enough, I don’t need anyone else’s help!
1. Nappy rash guilt
Occasionally my kid gets nappy rash that burns hotter than the deepest depths of hell and he walks like he just finished riding a Clydesdale for a week. I usually try to help with some soothing nappy cream (cue screaming) which is amongst my many change table lotions – along with the nasal spray, eczema cream, lanolin, nail clippers et al.
It’s easy to get distracted when your kid is screaming which means that I didn’t notice when I accidentally put fake tanning cream on his arse. Until later.
Much to his Dad’s ire, our kid had a slight golden hue, in stark contrast with the rest of his lily white arse.
Fortunately it was one of those slow acting ones which is the only thing that saved him from having Oompa Loompa arse because that would have been hard to explain to daycare.
2. 2nd birthday celebration guilt
We didn’t do much for the kid’s 2nd birthday and just had some very low key celebrations with a few family members.
Firstly we took him out for breakfast and I told him he could sit in a chair next to me rather than the highchair because he was 2 now, how exciting!
Just as my smashed avo was being delivered (there goes my house deposit), he slid off the chair, bashed his top teeth on the table with a thud and disappeared.
I couldn’t get him out from under the bloody table and he was doing the holy crap that hurts cry, the poor little bugger.
Feeling a bit ill, I rearranged half of the restaurant and managed to extract him. His front teeth were bleeding slightly and I panicked a bit trying to surreptitiously see if they felt wobbly while reassuring his Dad over his shoulder that all was well and that I didn’t need the look to make me feel worse about it.
After feeling ‘the guilt’ all through breakfast and souring my sour dough toast even more (what’s with sour dough toast in cafes?! It’s always too thick and the crust slices your gob up like razor blades when you try to eat it) we decided to return home for the cake finale.
3. 2nd birthday cake guilt
Yay, cake! Everyone loves cake! I even had a candle. Am best, most organised mother ever. I shall be redeemed! I lit the big number 2 candle, watching the cake glee reflected in the shiny animae eyes of my adorable toddler and turned away for a second to put down the matches.
Turning back, I was sniffing the air wondering what the smell was. His dad starts bellowing ‘honey, his bloody hair!’ I looked to see that as he leaned down to take a bite directly out of the cake, the candle had started to burn one of his corkscrew curls.
I breathed the smouldering smell of failure deep and smothered the singed hair with my fingers whilst smiling brightly saying ‘whoa, close call, nothing to see here, crisis averted!’
Then I opened the windows to try and waft the smell of ‘the guilt’ out – who knew that ‘the guilt’ had an odour and that odour was singed hair?
I’d better improve at this birthday palaver because the 3rd birthday is coming up in a few weeks.
We thought we’d take him to the zoo, what could possibly go wrong?
Do. Not. Say. Harambe.
4. Indulging his sudden love of chocolate guilt
I spent ages trying not to give my adorable tiny human junk food. The couple of times that someone gave him chocolate, he really wasn’t into it except that he liked to hold it in his hand till it melted. Awesome.
Then one day he suddenly LOVED the stuff and is obsessed with smarties. When we go for walks to occasionally get a biscuit with smarties on it, he likes to collect sticks and rocks and I don’t pay that much attention.
Until this time, when he had something in his mouth and said around it, ‘Mummy I found some chocolate!’
I asked him to show me the rest of what was in his little chubby hand. Trying not to let the horror show, I replied ‘Oh sweetheart, no that’s not chocolate, it’s possum poo.’ Barf.
Even he was a bit grossed out by that one and had the good grace to spit it out pretty quickly.
Note to self: Introduce child to the only socially acceptable method of eating possum poo… Luwak coffee!
5. Falling out of cars guilt
I think falling out of cars is a genetic predisposition for my people. I fell out of our family Corolla when I was a teenager going around a corner and everyone thought Mum had run over me.
She hustled me back in the car pretty quick when I think she realised that explaining that I fell out of the car didn’t sound any better. Let that be a lesson kids, seat belts are important!
(Side note: seat belts weren’t actually compulsory at the time, it was pretty normal to have kids roaming free in the back seat. Yes, I’m that old.)
Fast forward to 2016 and the kid and I flew to my Mum’s house to surprise her. Surprise number 2 was that my brother, his wife and their adorable baby daughter were joining us for dinner. I texted them when we got to the venue to make sure everyone was in their *surprise* positions.
We had a small issue with the fact that my mum’s car is about 5000 metres higher than our car, so my unbuckled kid tried to get himself out of the car once I opened the door and instead fell headfirst onto the asphalt and impaled himself on a piece of gravel the size of Uluru.
Once I pulled it out of his head, the blood began to gush.
Turns out I’m a bit crap with lots of blood. I said to mum ‘gee that’s really bleeding!’ She told me to put some bloody pressure on it and here’s some bloody tissues.
Eventually, we made our way into the restaurant covered in blood with a screamed-out, exhausted kid with an oozy head that everyone had to have a gander at. I had washed most of the blood off him in the toilets but he still looked pretty banged up.
My brother thought we’d gone home because we’d taken about half an hour to make it in from the car park!
6. The coffee table incident guilt
Since then the tiny human has also managed to nearly knock himself out on the edge of the coffee table – or at least that’s what he told us. We didn’t even see it, we only heard the screams.
We thought he’d bashed in his eyeball, it was so swollen, so we took him to emergency at our local hospital and fortunately he just missed his eyeball.
He got a beauty of a black eye out of that one. You can imagine the looks we got walking around with a 2 year old with a black eye.
Then a purple eye, then a green eye, then a yellow eye… Actually, I think I could tell the people who had kids because they looked sympathetic, while the ones I assumed had no kids looked like they wanted to call Child Protective Services.
Speaking of which, I got a call from Child Protective Services the very next day. It was the longest voicemail message I have ever received in my life.
It started with ‘this is xxx from Child Protective Services…’ and eventually ended with them asking me to call them back to give a reference for a friend that had applied for a job with them. I had happily agreed to give said reference about a month before.
What are the odds of me receiving this call THE DAY AFTER the visit to the hospital with the injured toddler? I gave my friend an awesome reference but called her to abuse the crap out of her for giving me a bloody heart attack. She thought it was utterly hilarious, what are friends for?
Feel better about your own parenting guilt now?
OK, so they’re just some of my moments that have led to dealing with ‘the guilt’ in the first nearly three years of parenting. The thing is, I’m sure there’s waaaaaay more to come, so I need to find a way to manage it without relying heavily on fancy gin because the good stuff is just too expensive 😉
What are your dodgy parenting moments? How do you manage ‘the guilt’?
All gifs via GIPHY