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.