Guilt: a feeling of have done wrong or failed in an obligation.
Mommy Guilt: guilt multiplied by 1000.
Fellow parents of multiple children, I hope, I pray, you know what I’m talking about. Please tell me I’m not the only parent who occasionally forgets, for fleeting seconds, that she has another life she is responsible for. No, I haven’t left my child in the car or forgotten him at daycare (knock on wood). What I have done though is obsessively worry about my oldest son so intensely that I’ve forgotten the quiet, contemplative little dude sitting right beside me.
It feels awful forgetting. I love my youngest boy. He’s thirteen months old, and he’s awesome. He’s toddling around, climbing up stairs, and eating with reckless abandon. He loves flashing his six pearly whites (creating dimples in his chunky cheeks) and showing off his skills as a yogi master (the boy is flexible, I tell you).
But he doesn’t get the consistent attention he deserves. My Mommy Guilt is on overdrive these days. I cannot figure out how other parents do it. How do you devote your attention and focus on both children equally? Seriously, I’m asking. Tell me your secret.
Having a child with special needs only exacerbates the problem. Because of his recent ASD diagnosis, Big C demands, and I mean literally demands, my attention. He needs my help right now. There are therapies he needs and that means hours of prep, planning, and organizing on my part to make these therapies a reality for him.
But what about Little C? Is he getting what he needs? Am I giving him enough of my undivided attention? Is undivided attention even a part of my reality anymore?
I cannot stop wondering: in an attempt to help my oldest son, am I detrimentally affecting my youngest?
In the meantime, Little C is getting better at demanding attention. He’s learning how to effectively use his fake cry (a born thespian), and he’s proven to have a natural talent for the temper tantrum, but is this because of his natural disposition or is it a reaction to my inattention? Just last week, the daycare staff informed me Little C was starting to get “a little mean,” hitting and pushing the littler babies. I wanted to crawl into a hole. I began to imagine a recycled future of daycare suspensions, daycare removals, and nannies quitting all over again.
But that’s not fair. It’s not fair to Little C. He’s not his big brother. He’s his own little guy. He should be allowed to create a future that is uniquely his, flaws and all.
I know figuratively beating myself up over all of this is counterproductive, getting me nowhere but spinning in circles, but I cannot shut it off. It’s frustrating when people tell me to stop worrying so much. Don’t these people know I would if I could?
I. Feel. Guilty.
My only solace is that the guilt stems from a genuine desire to be a good mom for my boys. I give a shit.
That has to count for something.