Categories
On Motherhood Parenting

Kicking Parental Guilt to the Curb

Getting Real with Dynisha Smith

Today I missed my kid’s bus stop. I don’t know about where you live, but here you have to be at the stop to collect your kindergarten student or they are taken back to school.

Thank gosh we are not the last stop or I might have lost it. I was maybe two minutes too late – I saw the bus headed to the next stop, and broke every traffic law short of Baby Driver to get two stops ahead of the bus. And you guys – I cried. Looking back now, I feel kind of dumb admitting that.

The Torture of Parental Guilt

I picked her up and talked her through her own emotions. I reminded her I will always, without fail, short of death (this I said silently) come for her. In that moment though, sitting in my car praying to every deity I could think of to please delay the bus a few minutes because I swear i’ll be a better person – all I could think about was what kind of failure doesn’t make it to the bus stop on time? Why did I go down this street? Why didn’t I run that light?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had this kind of guilt over something. If your hand went up, you and I are not alone. Moms and Dads everywhere admit, albeit quietly at first, that they have had at least one moment of complete and utter panic over something to do with caring for their kids. Maybe you forgot your kids lunch, maybe you didn’t arrange transportation for something ahead of time… the list goes on. You let them cry over ‘spilled milk’ – whatever that means for you – until you just gave in. And then you feel like crap for giving in.

It Can’t Keep Going Like This

So what the flip are we supposed to do about this? Tediously I have to repeat myself, I don’t know about you but I cannot continue to live like this for the next thirteen years. Like most other single parents, I have probably come across multiple memes with a damned if you do, damned if you don’t message. Work, stay at home, spend more time with your kids, take better care of yourself, get more education to make more money, make better financial choices – move to another country and assume new alias. Okay that was just my solution – insert shrugging emoji here.

It is so much and it is so daunting. And with all of that off of my chest, I’m proposing a new litmus test for that damn parental guilt. Let’s ask ourselves – in reflection, because let’s be honest, we ain’t gonna remember these in the moment – these simple questions. Is our kid safe? Are their basic needs met? Is the damage irreversible? Can we commit to doing it differently next time? Do they still understand how loved they are? If you answered yes to most of these questions – keep kickin’ ass, your kid is fine, you are fine, and you ARE doing enough.

You ARE doing enough.