Of guilt and responsibility and pressure

Before I start I would like to say 2 things:
1. I haven’t blogged in 16 days*. In my almost 5 years of blogging this is the longest I’ve ever gone without publishing a post. This doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about writing, I spend my life composing blog posts in my head, but somehow I just haven’t been able to put them down here. I’m a little meh and a lot busy. Nothing bad, just meh.
2. My husband is fabulous. What follows is in NO way to critizise him. As husbands go he is amazing. He plans our weekly menu, he sorts out our bills, he diffuses my temper and he generally puts up with all my shit without losing his own.

Here’s the scenario:
At the beginning of winter I was going to buy long-sleeved school shirts for Daniel and Etienne said they never wore long-sleeved shirts as kids as they used to ruin them (he has 2 older brothers), let’s get the school rain-jacket, the sleeveless jersey and we’ll get a long-sleeve jersey for really cold days. We never ended up buying a long-sleeve jersey. Because we’re terrible parents, obviously. This meant that Daniel, who doesn’t ever feel the cold anyway*, had his warm jacket and short-sleeves for the rest.

One morning this week we are getting dressed and the jacket is missing. And Etienne and I look at each other with that Oh Fuck look. It dawned on us that the child was going to go to school in short sleeves on the coldest and wettest day of the year. I was hugely upset and a couple of “I told you so’s” may or may not have been muttered.

This episode serves as an example of how I, and after subsequent conversations, my (female) friends, perceive this:
1. It is always our fault.
2. Regardless of whether someone (read: your husband) else didn’t do what they were meant to and this affects your child it is still your fault. Because clearly you should have gone all OCD on their ass or just have done it yourself in the first place.
3. We really are a little afraid of being judged my other Mothers (Look! That child is wearing short sleeves on the coldest day of winter, what a bad Mother he has!) Ergo: It is our fault. And yes, we all do it.
4. The buck stops with us Moms. Always. Everything is in a way always our fault. When our kids are underdressed it’s our fault. When the sun comes out and we didn’t put suntan lotion on before we sent them to school, it’s our fault.
5. If we made a promise we cannot keep it’s our fault.
6. When kids don’t eat the food we lovingly prepare it is somehow our fault.
7. When a child is being bullied/bullies/isn’t liked we feel like it’s our fault and what did we do wrong?

I am exaggerating a little, but you get my drift. I’m making light of  one episode, but have 3 children and all those little things add up to a massive load.  Mignon’s dry skin under her lip she keeps licking?  My fault because I can’t get it sorted within 5 minutes. Isabel biting her nails? My fault and responsibility to sort out.  And so on and so forth.

Or is it just me that feels like I’m mysteriously doing things wrong that should be blamed on me?

* as I wrote that sentence I was reminded of Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing compares to you: It’s been 7 hours and 15 daaayyyysss. Lovely little earworm for the rest of my day right there. You’re welcome.

** the sun briefly came out the other day, even though it was still about 7 degrees outside and he asked if they could run through the sprayers.  The child doesn’t feel the cold.  See also: he prefers to free-ball.  But that could just be a boy thing. I only have a (much younger) sister.

6 thoughts on “Of guilt and responsibility and pressure”

  1. yes. yes, yes and yes. It’s always our fault. And no, you’re not the only one. I have no idea why we put this pressure on ourselves. Sigh.

  2. You need to read this.

    It’s not always the parents’ fault. It’s not always anyone’s fault: things can’t be perfect all the time, and yet our kids survive. Yet Mums seem especially good at blaming themselves over even the tiniest things.
    Let your kid play on the shoulder of the N1? That’s bad.
    Forget to pack a jumper in his schoolbag? Not so much.

    You’re doing a great job. Don’t let anyone – especially yourself – tell you differently.

  3. This blog post, she speaks the absolute truth. What I find oddest, and I do it myself all the time, is to feel guilty when something happens over which I have no control whatsoever. For instance, when it starts raining unexpectedly and the children have no raincoat, etc. “If I were a better mother I would have anticipated this…” Insanity!

  4. Am I the only one who doesn’t really do guilt for any extended period of time?

    We have these uniform dramas often and some how the kids always survive. I never got a tracksuit for Kiara for her new school because they are like a gazillion rand and I didn’t think she would need it but didn’t realise that the days they do PE, they go to school in their PE clothes which are tracksuits now in winter. So for now she is going in the shorts (which come to her knees) and her jersey AND she seems to be doing ok 🙂 It is what it is – right now I can’t squeeze blood from a stone to buy the tracksuit and it isn’t like it is snowing or anything!

    I am trying to get it into Cameron that it is NOT my fault when he misplaces his shin pads or doesn’t put his socks in the wash or has a hole in his pants! It is too easy for them to lay blame at my door.

  5. I know exactly how you feel,it always seem/feels like its my fault.
    Guilt is such a horrble sneaky feeling.
    Hang in there is gets better as the kids grow…but then you have different things to fel guilty about

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