A life less guilty
Is there such a thing as a life less guilty? I pose this question often. This emotion has been hot on my heels for really as long as I can think, so long that I cannot trace its roots. Guilt for being the bullied one in school - I must have earned the scolding, guilt for not loving my mother enough (huge one - how come? Carly help!), guilt for living a freely shaped life when my friends were all bucking down, and in recent times the guilt of failing as a mother. Name me one mother who doesn't feel deep down that she isn't doing enough; could do better, sacrifice more, be more available to her babes?
Let me migrate this theory to practice. I am in the process of weaning my babe after feeding him solidly from my body for nine months, but i am exhausted. I have loved (almost) all the moments, and apart from one big scare, his immunity has been solid. In his constitution baba is an African Viking. Apart from a modest half-glass of wine here or there I have abstained completely, have not made any plans to leave the house after six and have fed him twice a night, often more, through all the seasons. read: full-throttle dedication. All of these rational facts are overridden by a deep sense(lessness) of guilt as I gently but firmly wedge the silicone sucker between my baby's lips to feed him his formula. Arms flailing, he whimpers and turns his head towards my chest, a signature indication that he's desperate for only the one thing. i can forget about giving him the bottle at night, he persistently wins that round. Inside said chest is a heart that breaks for my creature, anxious at the damage this declination could do to him in later life. And always the she-devil on my shoulder susurrating coquettish that all of our fucked-upped-ness comes from early childhood. She's severe once you run with her; feeding on my need for perfectionism she sniffs out the hairline cracks in my constitution. Is there something wrong with me to find it all so hard? As if there is some status quo to be met... As if good enough is lesser than.
here is a list of thoughts I remind myself of in these moments:
- Though in the moment I am consumed with the wellbeing of my child, I must check in with myself whether I am projecting my own fears, anxieties and emotions onto baby. No child has ever needed psychological treatment for silicone trauma (but don't quote me on that).
- The idea that I must eschew my own wellbeing and mental stability for the needs of my children is one that I perpetuate through my need for perfectionism (and because we aren't taught an alternative. Only the all-sacrificing mother is deemed good). Only when I am whole and well does my child gain from my nurture.
- My perfectionism runs me at a risk of becoming a helicopter parent, which to some may be a positive thought but to me it is not. I can not protect my child from making his own mistakes and meeting his own boundaries, while collecting some bumps and bruises along the way.
- I owe it to my child to allow for extensive exploration of our surroundings and the world, though I want to stop him from crawling on the pavement (away from the street!) when he has had enough of the buggy. If I am consistently reprimanding him I am teaching my son that he's incompetent of standing strong in a daunting world full of danger. He needs to shape his own view of the world (through my guidance of course).
- My babe is raised worlds apart from my own feral farm girl upbringing. As children we ran the risk of unearthing scorpions and mistaking snakes for sticks, and yet somehow all four girls remained unscathed, and turned into confident, competent and rather tough little ladies. My baby is raised in a small town in north Germany. honesty, what's the worst that can happen? He'll choke on a fish bone...?