Primary Parent Guilt (PPG) Decoded

Shhhh!  Do you hear the crickets?  I kind of wish I could hear them in real life!  ;O)

As is the norm, life has been busy, but cyber-life here on the blog has been the opposite.  From birth and by nature, I’ve always been a person who struggles with balance (not usually with physical balance, but sometimes even that! lol).  It’s hard to stay away from my people-pleasing ways, and it’s standard for me to take on more than I can handle just to prove to myself that I can do it.

When I was younger, I was always the most selfless, most mature young person in my group of friends.  This is not to pat myself on the back; believe me.   Being this way has always had great impact on the person that I am.  It can ( and has) create(d) a lot of self-conflict.  Imagine wanting to be a young, reckless, careless teenager with friends, but really, actually genuinely concerned with doing the right thing all the time and not disappointing your parents.  That was me! (As an example, I never consumed alcohol under the age of 21!  I just didn’t think it was responsible! It’s so nerdy and so cool at the same time to me! lol)

So now you have the picture of me prior to parenthood.

Fast forward to having children.  It was as if I had just received a new prescription for glasses!   I couldn’t believe how there was no time anymore for myself; and, in addition how much I cared that it was gone.  No more working out, no more crafting time, etc.  And then somewhere mixed into all that emotion came the feeling of not caring at all that I had no time for myself.  How could my own time compare to the time with my beautiful kids?!   What a mix of emotions parenting brings (as well as an opportunity, if you accept it, to learn things about yourself that just wouldn’t have been possible before)!

To step back a little, I have many conversations with my parent-friends about how they can’t decide what activity to put the kids in, how many activities are too much, how to get their kids to eat better, etc., etc.

As a parent, at least for myself, and those that are close to me that share this with me, it seems like none of us are really bundled up nice in tight in a blanket of calmness and security over raising our kids.   There’s always some issue that we are actively dealing with, just getting through, or coming upon.   There’s sleeping issues, feeding issues, school issues, behavioral issues, marital issues, time issues – I’ll stop; you get the picture.

And then there’s the topic that has great prevalence but doesn’t get brought up as readily as the others – guilt.  In my opinion, it’s the catalyst for many things we do as parents, whether we accept it or not.

We’re not spending enough time with our kids, so they act out.  We feel guilty.  We put on a movie (geez, it is educational!) so that we can get just get a chore done quickly and efficiently.  We feel guilty.   We get an important phone call that we just have to take, and the kids are pulling on our clothes for us to talk to them, pay attention to them, etc.  We feel awful guilty.   I could go on and on, but, again, I’m sure you get the picture.

All parents feel this to some extent.   But, in my opinion, the primary parent, or the parent who’s doing the majority of the raising, really has it hard with this one.

I feel, as a primary parent, that it’s my duty, among other things, to provide a perfect mix of the following to my children : love, spirituality, boundaries, discipline, self-worth, self-respect, respect of others, caring, sharing, responsibility, etc.   That’s a lot there, and only a portion of the list!

No matter what your list of expectations for yourself as a primary parent consists of, chances are you feel guilty about it more often than not.

So why do we have it and what does it mean?!  That’s what I’m always wondering!

I’m no professional, just a self-professed obsessive over-observer.  More often than not, the vibe I get from the guilty primary parent is seeking self-assurance that you’re doing the right thing.  I think the fact that you feel guilty and are striving to do better or different is spectacular.   It shows that you’re selflessly and constantly working towards the best you can do for your kids.

I don’t know if it’s possible to be a parent (primary or otherwise) and not feel this guilt sometime along the journey of raising kids.   I think if you’ve got it, you’re lucky!

Personally, I’ve had a lot of PPG going on this week.  I’ve been working on sewing patterns for the shop, gifts for friends’ birthdays, visiting my Pop in the nursing home, searching for activities for the upcoming months for the kids, trying to find time to blog here, keeping up with the house, etc.

Actually, Matt sat me down and said, Listen, you’re doing too much.  It was both upsetting and a relief.  You just can’t do all things at once and do them well.  I haven’t found a way at least.

So in the meantime, I will have to slow things down around here and focus harder on what’s truly important.  That’s easy!   Time to go build a sofa-pillow tower with the kids!

Wishing you a happy, healthy, productive, and guilt-free day!

C

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