I suspect that mommy guilt is a universal phenomenon. If you work, there’s some mommy guilt because you’re not home with your child 24/7. If you stay at home, there’s that mommy guilt because you wonder what kind of example you’re providing for your child. How can you tell your kids that they can be anything they want, and that school is valuable and important if you’re “just a stay at home mom”?
Lately, I’ve been dealing with a different kind of mommy guilt. You see, frequently when I’m taking care of Eudora, Norton will scream for something. He needs more milk. He wants down from his chair at the table. He can’t find Pillow. It could be anything, but it feels like having to wait more than thirty seconds will kick off a toddler tantrum of epic proportions. And when Norton starts having a tantrum, Eudora freaks out and explodes into an inconsolable ball of infant crying. That leads to Mommy wanting to freak out and have her own screaming/crying fit.
But of course, I can’t do that. I have to try to make sure that none of the explosions happen and everyone feels happy.
To do that, I put Eudora down and go take care of Norton. Then I feel guilt over that.
What kind of message am I sending to my daughter by putting her down to tend to her brother? She seldom cries over it (unless it’s her first bottle of the day), but still. I feel like I’m telling both of my children that Norton is more important and his needs come first. In contrast, I’m telling Eudora that she is not as important as her brother. Or that I don’t love her as much, or that she’s just… somehow less.
I don’t want my daughter to ever feel that she’s less important. She’s loved. She’s treasured. She’s our little wonder; she’s the little girl that my in-laws have been hoping to have. And she’s so very important. Once she was born, my husband and I both felt that our family was now complete.
But there’s that guilt. There’s that fear that I’m doing some sort of psychological damage to my daughter and setting her up for years of mistreatment. There’s that fear that I’m creating a spoiled, entitled little boy because I try to avoid both the toddler tantrum and the infant crying that follows. But what else can I do?
How do you handle it when your children have seemingly conflicting needs?