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I am an inherently guilt-ridden person. It isn’t for any real good reason, but I internalize expectations (whether mine or someone else’s for me) and feel terribly when I don’t meet them (even if the person they belong to doesn’t care that I fell short). This guilty feeling is tied pretty strongly to my anxiety levels, which although manageable are kind of intense sometimes. It’s going to snow next week? Anxious. I forgot to mail the electric bill early? Anxious. I hear sirens? Anxious. My desk is a little disorderly? Anxious anxious anxious. This Type A hyper aware craziness will likely kill me one day, probably.
4 (almost 5) short weeks into being someone’s Baby Mama and I’ve managed to feel guilty most of the time. First it was that she wouldn’t latch appropriately. I’ve been the World’s Loudest Mouthed Advocate of Breastfeeding and my child will. not. latch. Initially I blamed her immature suck/swallow at birth, but shortly after that cleared up it became clear it was in fact not her abilities but my anatomy that were keeping us at odds.
Is there anything I can do about this anatomical abnormality? No. Do I still pump exclusively so she can get breast milk from a bottle instead? Yes. Does this abate my feeling terrible about not being able to feed her the way I intended? Nope.
Then there was last weekend. I left AverageBaby with her Daddy and went out with my brother to see our favorite. band. on. the. planet. who hasn’t played together in almost a year (and whom we didn’t think would play together again ever …). She was in completely capable hands. She was safe. She was happy. I was doing pretty well with this whole ‘leaving your baby for the first time ever’ deal until I got a picture via text message on my phone of AverageBaby all adorably wrapped up in a towel post-bath.
But. But …
I’ve been there for all her baths. I thought they were going to wait for me to get home and do it the next day. I’m not supposed to miss these things.
Why hello there, guilt, how have you been?
Now we have the icing on the cake. My dear sweet baby is covered in rashy bumps. They started out looking like a regular case of ‘baby acne’ and have since morphed into an increasingly terrible looking rash. She has other symptoms as well, and the math adds up to a likely dairy protein sensitivity. I’m immediately going dairy-free to try to help her and I couldn’t have known any earlier than now (it’s not like they come with manuals that say, “This one is dairy intolerant. Good luck.”).
Yet still … guilty.
Every time she cries and grunts and looks miserable, I feel terrible. I know I didn’t do anything to her on purpose. I know I couldn’t have known ahead of time. I know it wasn’t intentional. None of this stops me from feeling like the Worst Parent Of The Year because she gets that dairy protein directly from me, from the cheese and ice cream and milk chocolate I’ve been putting in my mouth for weeks.
I could melt into a puddle right here. Or hide behind a rock. I know there’s some degree of “Mommy Guilt” in every parenting relationship, but I probably should have considered how it would co-mingle with my already persistent need to be anxious and tense about expectations in the first place.
And none of that placating, “It’s ok. You couldn’t help it.” crap, ok? It doesn’t make me feel better. I see every comment like that as an excuse for why I didn’t make the grade. I know that’s irrational. I’m working on it …