No one told me about the guilt.
Before I had kids, there was only talk about the late night feedings, the dirty diapers, and terrible two’s when people spoke of the cons of parenthood. There may have been some mention of teenage angst and preteen moodiness, too. But not guilt.
I would have remembered guilt. I’m Catholic.
But from about day 8, which is when I brought Madeline home from the hospital, guilt has been my companion.
Back then, it was feeling guilty about not getting more done around the house while little Maddie slept. Ha! Wish I could go back to those days and tell that City Girl to relax.
When Zoe was born, it was full-on guilt. No doing enough to give each girl individualized attention. Not being able to get them into enrichment activities because I didn’t have the money/schedule/ability to make it work. (really came to fruition when the girls started soccer and played with kids who had been playing for 6 years!) Not being a calmer parent. Not feeding them whole grains all of the time. Finding out those whole grains were making Zoe sick because she has Celiac Disease. I could go on and on…
Now, my guilt is centered around schooling. The girls are smart kids. Yeah, yeah, blah blah blah, that’s what every parent says… Still, standardized tests and grades have both of them in top percentiles so there’s something there. Before the farm, we lived in a school district that was very affluent and very competitive. Madeline especially was in a strong program that challenged her and her skills. Zoe hadn’t yet reached that yet because she was just in first grade and we were starting to uncover her strengths.
The schools were in now are good, “excellent” if you go by state testing scores, but something doesn’t feel right. I just feel guilty that the girls aren’t learning as much as they could be. After all, Zoe spends some of her day helping classmates with their lessons. I want her to be giving and kind, but does that mean she needs to be the Teacher’s Aid. Guilt.
I don’t care if the girls get all A’s, I want them to be pushed and excited to learn. I know that means I need to take more ownership over pushing them to learn. I try. Taking them on a surprise trip to DC, touring the White House, Supreme Court, and Library of Congress lead to many discussions on our forms of government, the process of litigation, and the importance of knowledge. Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and visiting the MLK Monument brought up discussions of slavery, freedom, and equality. Good stuff.
But then I put them on the bus, watching them leave for another week of school only to see that my friend, Guilt, is sitting next to me in the van.
How Guilt found me again so quickly, I’ll never know. I’m just trying to not feel guilty for not seeing her climb in so I could have locked the doors.