I very, very rarely regret my actions. I'm very much "this is how I roll, if you don't like it, go away". And, I try to learn from my actions as best as possible.

Sometimes however, I'm full of regret as soon as I've done something. And usually it's related to the boys. And even more worryingly so, the regret tends to come straight after resentment. Which comes from me wanting to be selfish.

The Boys have been ill for approximately 17 years. Which means many, many tears. And tantrums. And sitting in the rocking chair, watching Disney Pixar DVDs over and over (and over) again. With the two of them slumped on me, fighting for space on my lap, heads resting on my chest.

I'll be honest. I have my laptop/iPhone glued to my side, because if I don't, then I have no contact with the outside world. And of course, if there are two Small people clamoring to be on my lap, then it makes it a little difficult to get anything done. And of course, trying to work on my website (which at the moment, is the slowest process EVER), take some half decent pictures and maintain small (but much appreciated) friendships...well...there are moments when I struggle.

Noah sidles up to me and pats my lap. Then he signs "cuddle". And will do so repeatedly. And of course it's the cutest thing ever. But not always. Not when you just want those 5 minutes, when you want your own time out, to have that small connection with the outside, to switch off from everything child/baby related. And there is step one: Selfish.

I want my time. My time. But I don't get that time. Because I'm on call. For the boys. Because they need my time. And as their mom, they should get my time whenever they want or need it. And suddenly we're at step two: Resentment.

It's not fair, right? I want to be able to just snap my fingers and demand time. I want to be able to drop everything going on and suddenly have my own time out, the way I want it. But it's not fair right, because they're babies. Even when I ignore him a few more times than perhaps I should, or perhaps when I plop him on my lap, give a half hearted cuddle then turn back to my laptop, surely that's all unfair on them. Final stop: Regret.

The quality time that I (should) spend with them is tainted because all I want is escape. I don't want to be glued to the TV. I want to be immersed in my own world. Doing my own things. Seeing my own sites. Literally. For the last two nights, I've worked into the night, going to bed at 3 a.m., savoring my time without being disturbed. And I'm full of regret that I have to do it that way.

I regret feeling the resentment and selfishness, to do what I want to do. But ironically, only this morning, I "told a friend off" for feeling guilty about wanting to spend time without her boy, but not getting that chance.

Where do we get off beating ourselves up, just for being human? Just for wanting to be human? Just for wanting to retain that shred of identity, that sense of self, that 5 minutes of selfishness that surely we deserve? When we have a drink that we just want to drink but can't get to, a phone call to a friend that we want to make but can't because of the fussing and whining, the email/blog post we want to read but can't because it takes 19 attempts and by the time you HAVE read it, it's three days later?

I have spoken to various people this last fortnight, and it's given me some very interesting food for thought. First of all, it's amazing how many people (ironically, non-parents) take parenting for granted. To assume what various aspects of parenting are like, without ever having been there. And by been there, I mean actually been a parent. And I think until you've been there, until you have had that child demanding you all the live-long day, there can be no assumptions. There can be some understanding, but it's limited. I never knew it would (could) be like this. I had some idea, but even my ideas weren't close.

Another realisation, was that there are many who had forgotten that as a parent, for some it can be near impossible to switch off. In fact, to just stop being a parent for 5 minutes. Even when you're away from the kids, you're out with friends, you're blinding drunk, you're away from them; whatever. There is no time out. There is no turn off. There is no holiday. You sign up for the job, and it becomes yours, for the foreseeable until the inevitable. And if you fuck it up, there is no do-over. You don't get that time back.

And right there, is resentment, regret and selfishness all rolled into one. Sometimes, I ask the question: Does that process of understanding these steps make me to be a better parent? One who cares as much as they should? Or am I being, like untold numbers of other parents out there, way too hard on myself? Or maybe, just maybe, this is the worst parenting ever, and I should add (more) guilt to the list? If that's the case, then that's a shame.

Because I'd be willing to bet that would mean there's an awful lot of other bad parents out there. Parents who just want to be.

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21 Responses
  1. Becky Says:

    I know how you feel. My kids are so demanding sometimes that I try and escape by running off with the laptop (iPhone poorly so missing that).

    We are only human...

  2. Kat Says:

    It sucks being an adult, doesn't it. Just so you know, when they get a bit more independent it gets a bit easier, not much, but a bit.

  3. Josie Says:

    You say every word I feel.

    You know the worst guilt of all?

    Sometimes I want to quit. I want out and not to have to do this any more.

    I guess that makes me about the worst mother you can be. But at least if we're shit, we're shit together hey?

    Love you. Beautiful, heart-felt writing. No more talk of crap posts ok?


  4. peabee72 Says:

    I SO hear you...There is no way of predicting or explaining how tough this job is and the periodic table of emotions that comes with it is overwhelming at times (all the time). My own way is to do the best that I can, to apologise when I get it wrong, to talk to my kids but to try not to confuse them.. they are children not adults...and to remember that every day their capacity to love and forgive our faults grows...just because we're there and we're theirs.

    Another zeitgeisty post from the mocha beans' mummy.


  5. This is so normal and so absolutely fine! I have been parenting for nearly 14 years and the need for 'me time' is a screaming desire. I am only here now, writing this, cos I have made my eldest dry up while I sit down for 5 mins. Even so he is interrupting me with moans and comments. It does get easier as they get older, time re-appears in little pockets and you find yourself missing those intense years. Just don't do what I did and have another one...my bonus boy came along just as my daughter started school and I started all over again!
    Love your writing, feel your frustration. You are doing a good job!

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I relate to most of what you're saying. I have always put myself first in the past. But now I'm working hard at not putting myself first for my children and I can't switch off and it can make me angry at times. We are only human, perfection is an illusion.

  7. Heather Says:

    I can relate to this, I'm guessing most parents can, even the ones that pretend they don't, because lets face it, we're all human, we all need time to ourself to unwind and relax.

    It doesn't make you a bad person or a bad mother. Just human. Thank you for writing such an honest post, it is wonderful to see that others feel the same way and we are not alone.

    And Josie - when the girl was under a year i used to daydream of just pushing her pram somewhere and leaving her. I'd never do it 8just as you wouldn't with Kai), but that thought, that imagined relief, I can't pretend is wasn't tempting.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    My son is 33 so I'm a long way from the times you are emersed in. He was only a year old when I chose to go back to college to qualify to teach so that I could earn a wage in a career that would fit in with him.
    There were very difficult times, just like you describe. I'm lucky though because we can look back together. He tells me that the amount of time we spent was not important but the quality was. He knew that I loved him & if he needed me I would be there but I needed my time so that our future would be better.
    Keep strong - they will know!

  9. Anonymous Says:

    It seems to me that a happy parent is a better parent. In any relationship you need time together & time to yourself; an imbalance either way is unhealthy, right?

    Having said that: ask me again in a month or 2! :)

  10. Really love your blog. Found it this week. I'm not yet a Mum but really want to be (I'm with my life partner so it WILL happen). I think like you I will end up fighting wanting to 'just be' and feeling guilty that by just be'ing I might be neglecting my kid. You HAVE to find the time to 'be' because without it surely you're so all-consumed that you lose your identity? It sounds to me like you're striking the right balance. Be'ing at what ever time you can snatch to do that and isn't that the best you can do? Keep doing it, because I think if I were you I'd be doing the same thing or would fear losing my marbles somewhat because the ME inside was being surpressed. Not sure if that makes sense but.....

  11. Oh I get exactly where you are coming from and I feel exactly the same a lot of the time. I feel guilty for it too and at the moment I'm not particularly enjoying the time I spend with my daughter because I'm exhausted and I need a break. I know I'm being selfish but I'd like some time off from being a mother every now and again and I just don't get it. It makes me angry that family don't help out and that I'm left on my own. I often feel trapped because there are so many things I'd like to do but can't, because who will collect her from school and look after her. But as one of your earlier commenters said, it isn't forever, they do grow up and become more independent. Then I'll probably feel another set of difficult emotions! This post is absolutely brilliant, hence the rather long comment!

  12. You see all those comments? You're not alone. We've all been through it. I just to go to the supermarket and leave the hubs at home with the children just so I could spend an hour wandering aimlessly up and down the rows of baked beans and shampoo with only my own thoughts for company.

    This is motherhood. You feel bad about everything and anything and the only comfort we can offer you is to wrap you in our collective bossom and tell you you are not alone.

    And no there is no 'switch off' button. I went away for my 40th with my hubby for a weekend and one day we were out walking and I had a complete panic attack because I thought we'd left the kids back at the hotel. I mean real heart-stopping, feeling sick moment.

    My mother in law tells me that never ever goes - and her eldest is 45 now!

  13. English Mum Says:

    Oh lovely lady, I've SO been there. In fact, over ten years later, I can still remember certain incidences that made me feel SO awful and SO guilty, that they're seared into my memory.

    What I will say is that, with the benefit of hindsight, this stage does pass. Mine are now 11 and 14 and I now find that although I experience new parenting lows (same shit, different worries), I do now have a lot more time to myself.

    'These things', as some clever geezer once said, 'shall pass'.

    Chin up, sweetheart. You're a great Mum and if all these comments are anything to go by, you are most certainly not alone. And you have loads of friends cheering you on.

    Including me. Hugs! xx

  14. Deer Baby Says:

    What a great honest post. This, for me, is what blogging is all about. Mothers telling it like it is. I feel the same. I sneak moments here and there, try and hide from the relentless neediness and then feel guilt. You're doing great xx

  15. april Says:

    I SO much just want to BE...sigh...this is something that shoud be taught to teenagers- better birth control than anything else...
    great post - thank you.
    *very tired now so must stop before i go into ramble mode* hug

  16. I couldn't have said it better myself. Really. I agree with every word, and feel it every day. There is no escape from it so all we can do is take some solice from the fact that we are not alone, in it together.

    All least we all share this sort of stuff unlike (in my experience) the real world where it's all sunny days and cupcakes. Hang on in there x

  17. English Grandma Says:

    Tara's m-in-law is so right...once born your children are with you always - in your mind and thoughts - whether they are 4 months, 4 years, 14 or 45! Yes, you certainly have more 'me' time as they grow but you continue to feel happy when they are happy, and sad when their lives are not so good. Looking back over the years there are the regrets that maybe you didn't handle a situation quite the way you should have....but I try to console myself with the knowledge that I did the best I thought at the time... Enjoy every moment with your young families, you never get that time back.

  18. Gappy Says:

    I'd just like to add my own 'Me too!'

    There is something about mothering that is uniquely draining. No woman can be blamed for just wanting it all to go away sometimes.

    I know it doesn't help now but it does get easier as they get older and more independent. My youngest will start school soon. People keep saying to me, 'Oh you won't know what to do with yourself'. And I think, are you mad? I'm chomping at the bloody bit, like any sensible woman!

  19. deer baby Says:

    I identified with this post so much I've linked to it in my blog http://deerbaby.blogspot.com

  20. Toni Says:

    Before you know it, they will be all growed up. have no regrets at feeling selfish. Get some time, a day, a weekend or an afternoon just for you. make it a regular thing. Otherwise ya will go nuts and be no good for anyone. This time will recharge you and be happier with your kids . It won't be long before they are off and giving you too much time. Stay healthy, take a break. Ya not superma .

  21. ella Says:

    I have been there too.

    When I had postnatal depression my counsellor concentrated almost entirely on me having more 'me' time. She said I can't give the best to my family if I'm not doing something for myself. It's not always easy to find time and, for me, it's often a trade-off between time for me and sleep, but I'm happier for it and I think it makes me a better parent.