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The Unexpected....

When I found out I was pregnant with LP I knew that there would be a lot of emotions and feelings to go alone with pregnancy and parenthood.  I expected to be excited, happy, terrified, scared, crazy, joyful, tearful, awed, amazed, and exhausted.  The one feeling I really didn't expect was guilt.  I know I've touched on this already but I'd like to talk about it again (and I'm pretty sure that in this journey of parenthood this will not be the last time I bring up this topic!)

It's been 4 weeks since I last wrote about guilt.  Little Paul was 9 weeks old and I felt guilty about leaving him alone in his bouncy seat while I conditioned my hair, guilty about putting him in his swing so that I could actually eat breakfast in peace, and guilty about not wanting to be with him every single second of the day.  Now LP is 13 weeks old and I've gotten over all of that.  I need to condition my hair, I deserve to eat breakfast, and he doesn't need me to hover over him every second- he needs his space too. 

A few weeks ago we joined a little playgroup.  The other moms are awesome and I feel as though we've been friends forever.  Their kids are 8 months old and it's exciting to watch them learning to sit and crawl and play with their toys.  I've learned a lot from these women who have been moms just a few months longer than me and it's also provided for some great opportunities to bitch about our husbands and compare notes on parenting.  It's in this comparing though that some of the guilty feelings begin to bubble up.  And while they're mostly ridiculous reasons to feel guilty I feel compelled to share them here for other people to ponder and for me to laugh at when I read back through my blog months and years from now.

For example, almost every Friday at least one of the other moms says that she's called the pediatrician about something.  One called because her child was pulling on his ear, another because she wasn't sure her little girl was getting enough to eat.  Me??  I haven't called our pediatrician ONCE.  Not at all.  I just haven't had any questions or concerns that I felt necessitated a call to the doctor.  And as crazy as it sounds, this totally made me feel guilty.  Am I not paying attention enough to notice little things that I SHOULD be calling about?  Am I not concerned enough to bother to call?  Am I a bad mother???  I know.  It's crazy.   I know I'm a good mother.  And I notice every little thing about LP.  I don't call because I trust that Paul and I know what we're doing.  And that we'd know when we absolutely do need to call the pediatrician.

On Valentine's Day I took LP to a music class with one of the other moms from our playgroup and her little girl.  There were 9 other babies in the class.  And they were all wearing red or pink for the holiday.  Little Paul was wearing blue.  Blue is NOT for Valentine's Day.  And I immediately felt guilty.  I felt as though the other parents were judging me: "What kind of mother doesn't dress their child for the holiday????  Especially their very FIRST Valentine's!  Horrors!"  Again, it's crazy that I felt guilty about it so I'm going to just move on (although I swear it will never happen again!  LP will always be dressed appropriately in the future!)

Little Paul sleeps (mostly) through the night now.  He has been for more than a month now.  We put him down between 8 and 9 every night and he sleeps until 6 am or so.  (Please allow me a moment here to say YAY!!!  WAHOO!!!  YIPPEEE!!!!!!!!) Once in a while he wakes up and cries in the middle of the night for a few minutes.  When he does this, instead of running in to check on him, I turn the baby monitor down.  Granted, if he's screaming bloody murder or if it's anything other than just "I woke up and want my mommy" crying I do check on him.. But usually he falls back asleep after a few minutes.  So while I feel guilty about it (especially when the other moms talk about how  many times they went in to soothe their baby back to sleep, making me feel like a horrible ogre who just ignores her child), it works for us.  We all get the sleep that we need. 

Then there's the breastfeeding.  I'm constantly reading articles about how wonderful it is to use this time to bond with your baby.  It's something only I can do for him.  It's joyous and wonderful and I should treasure every moment of it.  In reality though, LP enjoys his all-you-can-eat buffet while I enjoy my all-you-can-Tivo episodes of crap like the Bachelor and American Idol.  And sometimes I feel guilty about this- that I'm not dimming the lights and fondly gazing at my son while I nurse him... Instead I frequently get so wrapped up in a dumb reality show that I don't realize that he's stopped nursing and is spitting up on himself.  So I feel guilty about that instead.

On a more serious note on Monday I start back to work.  I'm fortunate that I only have to be in the office Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'll work from home on Wednesdays and will have Fridays off so Little Paul will only be in day care three days a week.  And of course, I feel horribly guilty that I won't be with him.  That he'll be in day care.  That he'll be sharing the attention with other children.  That he'll probably get sick more frequently because of the other kids.  That I'll most likely miss some of his firsts (although hopefully not!)... These are valid things to feel guilty about but it is what it is.  We can't afford for me to stay home. 

I also feel guilty because I know that my boss is expecting that I want to be there and that I'm going to be completely focused on my job.  In reality though work is the last place I want to be and I know that it will be hard for me to focus.  I'm not going to slack off and not perform well in the office, and I'm certainly not going to tell my boss that I don't want to be there but I still feel guilty about it- I feel badly that I'm no longer the same employee who he hired a year ago.   My focus is elsewhere now. 

So there you have it.  Guilt.  In all it's glory.  One day I'll be able to toss it off my shoulders onto the back of LP by saying "I was in labor with you for 30+ hours and THIS is how you treat me??"  Until then, I'll just have to learn to let it go and move on... Apparently it comes with the territory.

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