Parenting comes with a side of guilt. Whether you're the mommy feeling it, or the recipient of your mother dishing it out. Just as Mondays follow every weekend, guilt follows parents. Let me set the scene.
My fabulous husband surprised me with a trip to Victoria, B.C. to celebrate my birthday. What a guy! He always makes my birthday extra special because I have a December birthday. December birthdays are the worst. I blame my parents. Every year Heath does something to ease the pain of a) getting older and b) getting older so close to Christmas.
To find out he was whisking me away from it all for my birthday was thrilling. I was elated, and a little jealous of myself! As a perma-grin stretched my mouth out, our daughter was morphing into a green eyed monster of jealousy. She could not believe her own misfortune. How dare her father diss her like this? Didn't he remember that she frequently declares her desire to live in Canada? To take her mother, and not her, is just a blatant disregard for all things holy. Prisons are full of the scum of the earth, guilty of heinous crimes against humanity. Yet this was beyond the pale.
Unfair. Unforgivable. Unjust.
The nerve of that man, our daughter calls Daddy! I just laughed and apologized that her parents love each other. What were we thinking? Gwen is 5 feet, 3 inches of pure spitfire and unadulterated emotion. Being a high spirited woman myself, I get it. And I just laugh. Her tantrum would not rain on my good mood.
The other half of The Frenemies took a more subtle approach. Parker used his position as my favorite snuggle monkey to his advantage. He would hug me frequently and sigh.
The one thing beyond his control, but worth exploiting, was his busy schedule. As piles of homework grew, the hugs and sighs kept coming. I would tell him to keep doing all he could each day and not let it overwhelm him. He didn't expect me to do anything, just be there. The closer I got to my coveted trip, the more he gave me large, sparkling cartoon eyes and lamented how he just needed me to be around.
My oldest, Gavin, is in the throes of skulky adolescence. He has also taken after his mother by losing his mind at 15. So while he didn't actively play on my guilt, silence was just as deadly. I have failed as a mother!
The guilt was suffocating. The more my children shrewdly played the guilt card, the more I started to doubt everything. Do they know something I don't? I thought I was going away for my birthday. I'm not planning on dying. Are they having premonitions that are coming out in lingering hugs and sibling rivalry? I practically had to kick kids out the door the day of my trip. Their looks of betrayal almost broke me. Almost. I was still going to Victoria!