Having a shower by myself – saying yes to me

It doesn’t sound that momentous.  And it’s not as if showering with the girls is difficult – they sit in the bath, I pass them the occasional toy and they play together.  But last weekend I got quite a bit of me-time while sewing the shirred dress, even if it was in 10 minute blocks!  So when my husband offered to distract the girls so I could shower by myself, my first instinct was to say that’s fine, I’m OK.

But is OK enough?  Why don’t I deserve the time to be good, great, fantastic?  Unfortunately it comes down to one word – guilt.

I’ve managed to convince myself I have to be a perfect parent or I’m hurting my kids.  This is wrong and I know it intellectually.  I know that there is no such thing as a perfect parent.  I know that kids have done very well over the years in less than ideal conditions and they’re pretty tough.  I even know that something like books and reading (for example) are incredibly new and people have learnt to use them without being read to for an hour a day from birth.  When it’s an individual example like that I’m perfectly rational.  But in my day to day emotions there’s always something I should be doing, or doing better, or worst of all not doing.

And in the rare cases where something goes wrong!  I’m extremely lucky and I know it, I have two healthy, happy little girls.  But between their sleep (or lack thereof) and their speech (big girl had a moderate delay which seems to be resolved, little girl is following in her footsteps) it seems that at least once a day I ask what on earth I’m doing wrong.  How did I create this sleep problem?  What have I neglected that has stopped them from talking?  How (why!) did I make them so clingy?

You can see the problem right there in that paragraph – the good things are due to luck, the bad things are all my fault.  And that turns into guilt.

I don’t know how I developed this attitude.  Probably a lot of things contributed, I’m a bit of an overachiever and a lot of a control freak, and there’s just so much information out there!  I’m not going to write a list because I don’t want to scare anyone else, but I managed to turn all sorts of things from extra bonuses into needs.  Rather than thinking how ‘lucky’ my kids are because they get so many extras on top of being happy, healthy and secure, or even (shock!) what a good job I might be doing, I’ve turned it around to say I’m doing a lousy job because they’re missing out.

It’s irrational.  I know it, but I can’t seem to help it.  And it’s not doing me or my kids any good as I stumble along near the edge.  Isn’t that sad – I’m realising I have to stop chasing unattainable perfection not because it’s impacting on me, but on my parenting.  Just shows how trapped I am.  So this is the first step.  When my husband offers me a shower all on my own, I’m going to take it even if I’ve had some me-time.  I’m going to keep track of me-time to make sure I actually get it and know that I get it.  And I’m writing it down so I can see how silly it is, and maybe start to believe it.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Capricious on February 6, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I just want to stand up and applaud you!

    Everything you said speaks straight to me. I tell people how lucky I am to have a happy, content little guy instead of telling them the truth- I have a happy, content child because of the choices I have made!

    I too am trying to realise that we don’t get any ‘bonus points’ for running on empty. Ironically, I can convince myself to have downtime and me time by telling myself that it teaches my son to see that I am a person with needs and interests too.

    Reply

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