Since about September last year I have been suffering from mother’s guilt. Actually that isn’t strictly true. I have been suffering mother’s guilt since I first found out I was pregnant, so about seven years now.
Anyway, this last bout of mother’s guilt has been brought on by the decision to take M1 on a holiday to the other side of the world and to leave the cliché and M2 and F1 to their own devices (I took the iPad, so there aren’t many devices left behind). At the time of booking it seemed like a lovely romantic notion, to take my first born to one of the most fascinating and colourful cities on the planet. To introduce her to tango and the colours of Boca, and to show her dog walkers and colourful collectivos, seemed like the right thing to do…especially as the airline was offering reasonably priced tickets!
But then mother’s guilt showed his gnarly face and took hold. How could I pick one child over the others? How could I justify a big expense on our stretched budget? How could I ever leave the other two who would not be able to cope without me? How is leaving two children with their father for two weeks fair? Is this really all about me and my obsessive need for travel? It goes on…
I looked for reassurance at every turn, friends, other parents in the playground, random strangers in the street. And mostly I got it. But mother’s guilt is such such an insidious fiend and he hung on like chewy on my shoes, catching with every step.
You see, that’s how mother’s guilt works. You make a decision for your family/child and then you rethink that decision- well surely because parenting is an exact science. I mean look at all those angelic children out there. It’s called the ‘what ifs’. What if she catches a cold on the plane? What if I don’t give the other two a kiss before bed every night? What if I don’t pack the right clothes? What if I don’t cook enough dinners for all the nights I am away? What if Argentina has a revolution while I am there? What if Australia has one while I am away?
I think the real ‘what if’ is, what if this experience scars them for life!
But if isn’t only about this trip? My whole life is ‘what if’. What if I have given M1 peanut butter too early? And what if I had fed her more cucumber, avocado, tomato as a baby? Maybe she wouldn’t be so fussy now. What if have made the wrong decision to send M1 and M2 to the local public school? What if we don’t do the right extracurricular activities so we identify their talents? What if I have enrolled them in ethics but there really is a God? What if one of our kids is good at piano but I have enrolled them in gymnastics? What if Auskick isn’t the right way to spend a Sunday morning? (In truth this last one is not really a problem for me, Auskick should be compulsory for all children).
And so it goes, on and on and on….
As M1 and I headed through customs, I looked back at M2 and F1. They looked sad. I felt sad. What if I had been able to take them all?
Well the reality is then then I would still have the what ifs. What if F2 can’t sit in his seat for more than 10 minutes at a time? Will my holding him down forever scare him off planes? What if one of them gets the Argentinian equivalent to Bali belly? How do I find the right treatment, clinic, or doctor? What if they mess up the apartment we rent? Does their name go on an Airbnb blacklist for life? Or worse still, does mine?
You make decisions for your children, sometimes with great consideration and other times in a bit of a rush. Which ones are the best? Ask me in about 20 years. In the meanwhile I am going to keep looking for those travel bargains. And what if my children inherit my passion for travel?