Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On Guilt

Much to my Jewish mother’s chagrin, I’ve never really done guilt well. I think I just don’t have the guilt gene. Much has been written about Mom Guilt, but I really have to say, I don’t suffer from it. I hear about it so much, that I occasionally wonder if I should be feeling it. But generally, I think it’s a waste of energy. As a single, working mom, my energy is a precious commodity.

Of course I want to be the best mom I can be. To me, that means not driving myself into the ground to do so. I truly believe happy mom equals happy baby.

I don’t feel guilty for not exclusively breastfeeding. Sunshine is 7 1/2 months old, and I am still nursing. But she has been getting formula in addition to mommy milk for quite a while. I pumped for a couple of months at work. It was awful. I don’t have an office where I can close the door, so I was pumping in an overheated utility room. I was stressed about the time it took (I never got the hang of double pumping), and getting my work done. All that stress meant I often didn’t produce much milk. So I gradually cut back on the amount of time I pumped, then the number of times per day, until my supply adjusted so I could go through the work day without pumping and nurse Sunshine at home. She has never had any problem going back and forth between boob and bottle. She’s very healthy, so what is there to be guilty about. (BTW, I also use “generic” formula and disposable diapers without guilt. Target rocks.)

We live in an apartment without a washer and dryer. The washer and dryer are in the basement. I have to go out of the building and around to the back for the basement door. Did I mention I work full time? So no guilt for me about disposables. (FYI, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Target brand diapers. They provide better coverage than the name brand ones, and are half the price.)

I miss my daughter like crazy when I’m at work, but I have no guilt about daycare. I looked into other childcare options, and am very happy with her daycare. As a single mother by choice, I am obviously the sole source of income for our family. In this economy, I’m lucky to have a good job with excellent benefits. Sunshine has been in daycare since she was 13 weeks old. She has gotten exactly ONE cold. She caught it when she was 5 months old, and knocked it out in 4 days. She was a trooper. I caught it from her, and felt like crap for a week and a half. I love that I can put her down of the floor of the infant room at her daycare and she can safely roll and scoot all over. I can’t say that about our apartment. They have loads of toys, they read books and listen to music, and in nice weather they go out to their private playground. Sunshine has no stranger anxiety at all. She’s curious about everyone, but when she sees someone she recognizes, she lights up. Big smiles and laughter. I think she also enjoys the other kids at daycare. She’s a social one, my girl. The staff has also succumbed to her charm. Last Friday, when I picked her up and was about to put her in the stroller, the pre-school teacher came over and asked if she could hold her for a minute. She often helps out in the infant room, and said, “I haven’t had any time with her for the last few days. I’ve missed her.” Why should I feel guilty about more people loving her?

I recently read a post on a message board by a mom who was feeling guilty about getting rid of some of her kid’s toys, as the child had so many. Oh, please … give a kid a pot and a wooden spoon. Some paper and crayons. More stuff does not equal a better childhood. When I was pregnant, a few people asked me about the nursery. What nursery? It’s a one bedroom apartment! It’s tight, but we’re fine. We will soon be moving to a bigger apartment. It will be great for us. But Sunshine will probably continue to sleep with me for a while. Yes, we cosleep. Without guilt, of course.

Then there are the big issues. Donor conceived and no daddy. Oh yeah, and older mom. We’ll just have to deal with these things as they come up. No matter how families are formed, there’s always something. Feeling guilty about these things will not make them easier. I think it would make them harder. Children sense their parent’s feelings. I hope that since I am more than okay with how our family came about, I’m proud of it, that she’ll be proud, too.

People constantly comment about how much she smiles and laughs. I figure I must be doing something right.


Tiara said...

Oh, I so admire you being able to be guilt free...though I am finally in a place in my life that I don't care what stangers family can guilt me into just about anything! & they do!!

Good for you! Sunshine is lucky to have such a smart Mom!

Mrs. Gamgee said...

I don't understand the whole guilt thing either. You do what you have to do in the moment. Yeah, maybe ten years from now we'll look back and wish we had done a few things differently, but I'm not going to beat myself up over it. It's done.

(of course, I may be singing a different tune in 6 months)

Baby Smiling In Back Seat said...

You are both so much better off this way. Kudos to you.

FYI, the stranger anxiety will come, probably pretty soon and suddenly. Unfortunately my babies' stranger anxiety hit just as we were trying out new babysitters.

Hopefully they won't have any stranger anxiety for each other when they finally meet!

Kristin said...

You are doing a LOT of things right. Sunshine is obviously a well loved baby and you are a truly fabulous mommy.

madrecita said...

I am so on board with everything you are saying! I too give my little guy some spoons and a bowl and he is so much happier than he is with all of his playskool toys!! great post!

'Murgdan' said...

Good for you, woman. You're doin' it right. Stand proud. ;-)

MyLifeMyWorld said...

I agree....I don't really deal with a lot of guilt either. I do the best I can with what I got and am proud of where I am now.

Even if I make mistakes, I am only human and can't expected to go through my parenting career not making mistakes. I'll apologize and move on...but to sit in guilt...well it just doesn't seem very useful.

Calliope said...

oh I WISH I could bottle some of this. I have these moments of angst that sort of zing out and then I am ok. But I am so aware that I need to work on some issues of my own soon so that I don;t ooze them all over W!

S.I.F. said...

I so need to take on your attitude lady... already! :)

I have been a mess about everything I've been doing, and I just had my transfer on Thursday! I'm a wreck that I could do something to keep it from implanting!

I need to work on not having that guilt now, because you're right; a happy baby is all that matters!

Billy said...

Must be doing something good :-)!
How lovely that she is such a sunshine and smiles and laughs a lot.
Got me thinking.. Though not yet successful breastfeeding [notice the "yet".. :-)], it is not guilt that I feel. And the inforced seperation after birth, I kept telling her how I'm sorry that this is how her life began. But again it is not guilt that I felt, though yes, did/do feel bad that that is how it was.
But being an older mother? Kind of feel guilty about that. Same as going the anonymous path where no information will ever be about the guy beyond the really basic info I have.
These are my issues, and I just hope very much not to turn them into her issues.

battynurse said...

I so wish I didn't have the guilt gene. I'm getting better simply because I refuse to associate with anyone who attempts to use guilt to manipulate me (my mom).
Maybe if I keep reading your post I'll eventually get it! Or get rid of it (the guilt gene).

chicklet said...

Unfortunately I do the guilt really well, but I'm with you that if she's smiling and happy, you're doing it all just right. If you weren't, she'd let you know it.

Anonymous said...

Love this post. Hope it gets lots of reads through the Creme - it's something that many of us need to hear.

Waterbishop @ An Older Version said...

Then you are doing great. :)

I am privy to guilt and it is definitely a waste of energy.
You should be proud.

(here from the creme)

Mr. Thompson and Me said...

What strength!

Sunshine has a strong (and smart) momma.

Stopped by Creme.

gailcanoe said...

You are an inspiration and I definitely think you are doing more than just one thing right!
I'm from the Creme.

Bea said...

Well, if you could bottle that, you would make a fortune.

Great choice of post for the cdlc.


Sara said...

Here from Creme.

I'm so inspired by what you wrote. Rock on!

Esperanza said...

Good for you on kicking guilt to the curb. I am a firm believer in either changing your ways or getting over it. I have felt guilt in my life, about many things, but I promptly decide, can I do anything to change this? If yes, will I do it, and if no, can I accept that? And basically once I've made my decision I move on. I don't feel bad about things that I cannot change and if I choose not to change something then I learn to live (happily) with that as well.

Your daughter sounds like a bright light in your (and everyone around her's) life. Thank you for sharing a little of her with all of us.

Creme de la Creme #125
Creme de la Creme 2010 Iron Clad Commenter Attempt

Tanya said...

You rock! I don't have a baby yet but god willing - there will be miracle soon. But I could not agree more happy parents equals a happy child. I think you have to love, accept and embrace yourself and your choices to teach children how to do the same. After all doesn't the saying go that they do what you do - not what you say.