Ah, a post I’ve been putting off writing, but it might be cathartic.
My name is Grumpy Old Trout and I suffer from Mummy Guilt to an enormous degree. Well-deservedly so, I might add. Today I got my eldest handfuls into nursery, with plans for the rest of the day (meeting to attend, fresh veg to buy, 7 parcels to post, 4 washloads to do, etc. etc). It was only as I quickly kissed their sad little faces goodbye and literally ran off with the baby in a sling to make a meeting on time that I realised I’d only be 5 mins late for the meeting but at what cost?
Let me backtrack: I got up early to allow for the snow. The Boss had lovingly got the car ready for me last night (car seats back in, buggy in, fleecy blankets in, windscreen wash in a spray bottle, snow swept off the roof and bonnet) and I had all the bags for the day packed and prepped ready to go on the kitchen floor. I still left late because the baby wet right through all her clothes, the other 2 wouldn’t eat breakfast or get dressed or get in the car or sit in the car seats or let themselves be strapped in… You get the picture. I got crosser when (as I’d predicted) the screen wash had frozen in the bottle. I don’t think I went completely apoplectic until I couldn’t find any of the 4 (count ’em…4!) windscreen scrapers or any de-icer. So I opened the bottle of screen wash, sloshed it all over all the windows, attacked the ice with my ID card (well, no-one would recognise my photo anway, cos I’m smiling in it) and stomped in the car. I snarled at the suggestion that we listen to nursery rhymes on the icy way to nursery (-8degC at its warmest this morning). Then I had a little rant to my daughters about how sick I was of their messing around to make me late when I’d asked them last night to help me be on time.
Anyway. Now I’m thinking: get a grip. They’re still babies. It’s not like they plotted together to conspire to make me late! And if I’d been late, so what? The woman I was meeting would have been perfectly sympathetic. Instead, I’ve said some (more) hateful, hurtful things to 2 of the people whom I love most in this entire world. The words and anger might roll off Mini Minx’s back just now, but my eldest takes things to heart, stores them, ponders and mulls over them (then usually repeats them to maximum horrific/humourous effect, depending on whether you’ve just heard her or are having your words repeated). Today I’m worried that having a Mummy who’s routinely cross and angry might… oh I don’t know, damage her in some way. I do try to balance things, eg always praise her for the good things she does, I apologise for being cross, I explain why I’ve been super-grumpy (got woken up by you and your 2 sisters 5 times last night – I’m sleepy and feel sick!), I reassure her that I’m sometimes cross with the things she does but not with her – that I always love her and am glad to be her Mummy even when she’s being naughty. However, do they actually balance out? Does saying nice things afterwards actually take away any of the sting of the anger before? Am I making my (beloved, darling) child more anxious than she already is?
From talking to other parents, I know I’m not alone in this. I know that Time Out is as much for the parent to calm down as to get the child out of the situation that’s driving everyone bonkers. But I secretly think I must be at least 1000 times worse than anyone else. Like every daughter who has ever been born, I worry that I’m turning into my mother, and I don’t want the relationship I had with her to be repeated (or worse) with my own 3. Every day I feel a kind of residual, permanent nagging feeling of Mummy Guilt, of not being good enough for my children no matter what I do. Usually I brush it aside and accept I can only try my best and that has to be good enough. But when I’ve hurt their feelings with my sharp tongue, whether justified or not, then I feel bad. Really, festeringly, stingingly bad. As I said before, justifiably so.
Anyone know where I can buy some more Temper Control? The one I had is completely worn out.