Friday, April 16, 2010


As a mama, I know how to lay on the guilt.
I am an expert at guilting my kids into submission. And I won't even tell you how easy The Man is guilted.
And, sadly enough, I am also very familiar with another form of mama guilt.
Let me clarify.
You start out your career as a mother staring at a peed on stick and waiting for two lines or a plus or a sign from the gods that your man did his job right and got you knocked up.
From the moment you know, you eat healthy, pop vitamins the size of horse suppositories, and kick on the classical music. You read all the books, take all the classes, and make plans for the perfect birth, the perfect child, the perfect life.
And then your baby is handed to you, and it all goes sideways.
You love your child. You adore your child. You don't understand your child, but you slog through the trenches of poopy diapers, spit up, tantrums, and coos.
And then you face the day when your pediatrician tells you that your darling angel, your mini Einstein, is developmentally delayed.
This isn't the firts time you feel like a failure as a parent, but it is the one that nearly crushes you.
You stare at you child and wonder what went wrong. Not that anything is wrong with your child, but where in the baking process did your little honey bun turn into a blueberry muffin? You love the muffin just the same, but its not quite as easy to digest.
So you go through the testing and the help, and then after a few months, your child begins to catch up and you can return to your normal, white picket fence, Daddy on the lawn mower life.
Until your child starts school. And he's spitting on teachers, hitting other children, screaming, throwing fits, and is labelled "that" kid.
And, with tears in your eyes, you begin to meet with professionals, begin planning, working, adjusting your life and the schools to fit your child's needs.
And the testing shows he is developmentally delayed. Your world slows down a crawl as you curl around your child to protect them from the barbed sting of those words.
The words don't matter to you. They hurt, but that doesn't matter. You will fight tooth and nail (even with a new manicure) for your child to succeed.
The label doesn't matter. This is still the baby you fought to bring into this world healthy and whole.
All you hear is the mama guilt.
"What did I do wrong?"
"How did I make him this way?"
"How could I have screwed up this badly in only 5 years?" (I mean, I know I'm good, but damn! That isn't very long to really mess up a child, is it? I must have set a record there.)
"What if he turns to me one day and realized its all my fault?"
Its hard as a parent not to compare your children. I try, but looking at Heathen 2 and Heathen 3 and knowing they have such an easy time obeying rules, making friends, and socializing. Why is it so much easier for them than it is for their big brother?
You start second guessing yourself. Every decision you made since conception comes into question. Because maybe those Taco Bueno bean burritos warped his little developing mind in utero, or maybe all the meds you had to take to stop from puking up your insides affected him. Or maybe . . . It doesn't matter.
You are smack in the center of a big bowl of mama guilt.
And you are treading water, just trying to stay afloat, knowing that you still have to face your child, knowing apologies won't make any sense because there is nothing wrong with your child.
It's all your fault.
That's where I am. Awash in a sea of guilt, I am mired down by the "what if's". And I love my child with a passion that defies all convention, so, for him, I continue to put one foot in front of the other when all I want to do is cry.
The label doesn't matter.
The work involved doesn't matter.
He is all that matters.
And so I will shove my guilt into a compartment in the back of my mind and, as needed, upgrade from a carry on bag of guilt to a suitcase to a steamer trunk, all the while becoming more and mroe bowed under the weight of the guilt.
And just continue to put one foot in front of the other until I finally succumb to the weight of my failure.
And it still won't matter.
Because that's what mama's do.

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