Today Harriet from Toby & Roo joins The Adventures Of An Allergy Mummy with a post about the difficulties of having more than one child, and sometimes having to prioritise and disappoint. I often feel the same guilt when Theo is unwell or has an appointment and I think it is something that is unfortunately inevitable but still horrible at times. Thanks Harriet for your wonderful post!
Today has been one of those days, you know the kind, where you feel like there is so much going on, so much to focus on. We didn’t start off with anything spectacular happening, just work and a baby who had been feeling a bit poorly. I’d already lost half of my work day to a pre-arranged Remembrance walk for my 5 year old’s school.
When the clock managed to speed it’s way round to 12.30, it was time to set off for the walk. Get the baby in the car, get my purse, get myself in the car, get to school. Simple. Unfortunately as with most parenting things, it wasn’t quite so simple. We arrived to school only for the baby to throw up as I lifted her on to me. Fortunately I had my mum with me so she could still walk with my son, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t have to bumble my way up to school and explain to the 5 year old that mummy couldn’t join in on the walk as she promised because his little sister was poorly.
He cried. I felt awful…
Reading it back, it doesn’t sound overly dramatic, in fact it’s just “one of those things” right? It is, but as a mother of three, I can’t tell you how often this kind of thing will happen where I feel like I am letting one child down or, dare I say it, choosing between them. There are so many positives about parenting more than one child; watching them develop sibling bonds, having someone else to share and learn to socialise with, always knowing that your kids will have a compadre, even when times are tough. I wouldn’t change it for the world, yet on days like today, I feel that there isn’t really enough said about the guilt that we feel as parents, especially when it comes to having to let one child down because we’re needed by another.
In this scenario alone I had one poorly child who had to take priority, but then a tearful 5 year old whose mummy had promised to be on a school outing (especially as I have missed a few over the last year with the growing demands of my business – another topic that I feel an equal amount of guilt over!) but I also had to explain to my middle son why his sister was getting all the attention and I hadn’t told him that there was a special walk on at his big brother’s school, meaning he felt left out from all angles… and again comes that mummy guilt.
My husband is one of two and he has also told me that he felt his mother loved his brother more – she did more with him, prioritised him and ultimately he feels that even now she is prouder of his sibling. They have what I can only describe as a turbulent relationship, filled with resentment of each other and a sense of dislike. They are polar opposites too, which doesn’t help, but there is always that fear in the back of my mind that I will create a similar problem and one of my three will be telling their future partners that they were never the favourite, always the second choice.
I’m sure the same can be said for the opposite side of the coin, will a parent of an only child spend their time worrying and fretting unnecessarily that they are smothering their only child or perhaps that their little one is lonely? I know my own mum always carried this burden, though I have NEVER felt that way at all.
Are we all just predisposed to this horrendous mama guilt? What do you think?