"I wonder if my egg was too old?" I remember actually saying this several times and thinking it many. How could anyone not be just a little bit horrified to hear a mother say that. Oh, they were, I am sure of it.
Mommy guilt is a natural part of motherhood. I say motherhood because I don't think fathers bludgeon themselves to the extent that mothers do. Maybe I am wrong but it always seems fathers are just a bit more pragmatic about parenting.
I would describe it as tap dancing through a mine field. When you least expect it; Pow! I wonder if I breast fed long enough? Pow! Maybe I didn't sing to him enough as an infant? Pow! Is he getting enough; food, time, therapy? Pow! It's a no-win war with your own worst enemy and there is no winner in sight.
I think that if your child has special issues, you tend to beat yourself up even more. Maybe it's because it's really one of the only things you can do. Not being able to "make your kid ok" is the hardest, most vulnerable feeling in the world. Being out of control, not being in charge is excruciating for many of us. At least with mommy guilt, we apply the pressure ourselves even if it can be unfairly placed, anxiety provoking and many times irrational.
I feel guilty about Shea all the time. As I try to give voice to the worry it seems flimsy and unsubstantial. Yet, when I wake up in the middle of the night unable to sleep, the guilt is black, deep and amorphous as storm clouds. During the day, guilt is an annoying mosquito; never far from my ear yet easier to ignore as you go about the tasks and duties of life.
I am from the generation that felt like we could have it all. The first generation of girls who grew up with Woman's Lib as a done deal. We didn't have to burn our bras or do epic battle with the status quo but we saw our mothers, teachers, aunts and heroes do it. They did it so we didn't have to, right? Tail end of the boomers; we knew we could have careers, interests, lovers, a full rich life before we settled down to motherhood. Oh, and we did; those were the days my friend. We were the ones that put off babies until later and later in life. Look at me; Molly came when I was 34, Shea when I was 39. We didn't think anything about it. It wasn't odd; in fact it was considered modern, wise, the smart way to do it.
And, yes, there is some wisdom to this. Older parents tend to be more relaxed, financially and emotionally stable. But, there are down sides, of course. And, maybe this is where the guilt comes back into it.
There is something a little wacky about having children during the classic mid-life crisis years. What we we thinking? Or having them so near Menopause. Again, what were we thinking? Then there is just the physical demands. Parenthood is exhausting; even more so if you have some years under your belt. Yes, we are more emotionally stable but maybe we are too thoughtful at times, too circumspect after seeing all we have seen. Dare I say too controlling, set in our ways? Plus, there is the reality of time. I will probably be an old, old lady (if I am lucky enough to still be around) by the time Molly and Shea have children. I probably won't have the luxury of being the spry, springy Grandma like my mom.
So, unfortunately I don't have a silver bullet for this particular beast. I sure wish I did; I would make a fortune. What to do? Get some exercise so that sleep comes easier. Cultivate a small select garden of good girlfriends who will listen and bring you back down to earth. Listen to your husband when he says, "Don't worry, honey." Love your kids, try to be a little kinder to yourself and count your blessings.