I think out of everything that I was warned about prior to becoming a mother, guilt was an emotion that I never really fully grasped.
As a mother, guilt is your constant companion. It cloaks you like a well worn jacket and is constantly at the back of your mind.
I, as a mother of two find this emotion to often be overwhelming and all consuming.
I leave my babies each and every day to travel an hour into work and an hour back home everyday. My workplace is not close to home and I work a 9 – 5 job. The guilt of having to leave, of leaving my children in others care and having to hand over the privilege of watching them grow on a day to day basis isn’t easy.
The bottom line however is that I love work. I love to have my mind and brain stimulated, I love to know that I am contributing in some way to the economy.
Even more so I love the people who I work with. I have made best friends, met incredible people and crave the adult talk.
In addition, the reality of the situation is that I have to work. We as parents of a child with special needs do have additional costs. Our aim is to provide Luke with the very best tools with which to reach his full potential and at this stage it involves additional therapy sessions, which all come at a monetary cost.
Ultimately we want Luke to attend the very best schools, whether this means a specialized school or a mainstream school with a teacher aid, these once again come at a cost.
In a country where we unfortunately cannot rely on a national health system these monetary costs can often be big.
In the same breath we want exactly the same opportunities for Holly, and the costs involved with having two children in the current economic climate in which we live means that this is expensive. I simply cannot place the sole responsibility on my husband.
So I have had to learn to let go of the guilt of leaving everyday. This is an ongoing battle. But I know for now, the benefit of me working full time at this stage is the best decision for my family. The fact that I have an incredible support system of family, friends and a carer on my doorstep makes the decision that bit easier, but the guilt of having to do so remains.
I am a firm believer that if you as a person are ok, then everyone else will be ok.
For me “being ok” means a trip to the gym. It means a visit to the salon for some panel beating and it means an afternoon snooze.
All of these activities mean time away from my children. It means leaving the responsibility of their care to my husband, to my family or to my friends.
With that leaving again brings guilt.
Ultimately however a happy, relaxed and rejuvenated mother is more beneficial and makes for a happier home. I also feel way more present for my children after I have had 30mins, an hour, a day of me time.
I am learning once again to let go of this guilt.
My husband is well aware of a happy wife equating to a happy life.
Luke has a lot on his plate. He attends school from 8am to 12pm. He comes home exhausted and as a result has a good 3 hour afternoon sleep.
On days when he has occupational therapy sessions and speech therapy sessions, often taking place before his school day starts he is even more exhausted and drained, often so tired that he lies spread eagled on the floor.
I have had to learn to deal with the guilt of pushing Luke and I often need to take a step back and just let him be a little boy.
The guilt of doing too much ,of not doing enough is something that I am learning to deal with and to let go of.
Guilt can be debilitating. It can literally cripple you as a parent if you let it. The art I believe to managing it, is in recognizing it for what it is, to addressing it and to attempting to let go of it. I also believe that it is ultimately part of being a parent and it is in recognizing it for what it is that we grow and hopefully become better parents.