COLUMN: Parenting is a ride you can’t get off

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I’ve always been an anxious person and I tend to feel responsible for everything around 
me.

Adding a child to that equation was only ever going to make this worse. Parenting is one massive guilt trip and it’s a ride you can’t get off.

A friend once told me the thing you are least prepared for when you become a parent is the overwhelming wave of guilt. She is right.

Daily I am consumed with guilt. My brain is a big bully and it’s not relenting.

My daughter is happy and content, she literally sparkles with joy and enthusiasm.

Before I start doubting myself, I’ll say it now: I do a good job.

Everything I do makes me contradict myself.

I work part time, within school hours. I’m always there to pick my daughter up and drop her off. When I can’t attend an assembly, I feel I shouldn’t work at all, that I am not there showing support for her.

However when I receive my wage slip at the end of the month, I feel bad because I don’t earn more. Why aren’t I out there forging some sort of mythical career?

Sometimes I only have time to do a ‘quick tea’ something beige and oven-y. Then I fret I’m not feeding her properly.

I see dust building on the sideboard, I should be at home cleaning.

On the other hand, If I go home and start a delicious meal of organic goodness from scratch, or Mr Sheen to within an inch of my life, the guilt creeps in because my daughter is entranced by Cbeebies whilst I ignore her.

I try to be the perfect mother. I spread myself so thinly that I’m turning into some cheap margarine.

I go to dance lessons. Dancing makes me happy, but this makes me want to explain myself to people.

‘It’s not that I don’t love my child, I just want a couple of hours to myself’ and of course I do!

The internal dialogues I’ve had with myself about this is ridiculous.

One thing that is great about motherhood is that you meet other mums you can use as a sounding board. When my guilt was giving me a thrashing for going away overnight, I knew exactly who to message to fight that guilt away and talk me into going.

No one else is judging me as harshly as I am. I’m not looking at other parents and questioning the way they do it. I don’t need to give other mothers a break. I need to give myself a break.