Mom Guilt

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I think we all experience Mom Guilt at some time or other.  I’m not feeding him enough vegetables. I should have let her go on that playdate. I work too much. I should hand sew their Hallowe’en costumes like those other moms. Pinterest.

But have you ever had your mom guilt haunt its way into your dreams? I have.  And it scarred me for two days.

What happened? Well, parenting a special needs child with behavioural challenges can be unbelievably frustrating. And I don’t always keep my cool. Some days I don’t have the reserves of patience and calm to cope as well as I should.

On this day, we fought over him not eating his dinner. We fought over him not turning off the TV. We fought over him refusing to do his homework. He contradicted me and talked back and was just basically being a huge ODD pain. And, unfortunately, I wasn’t in a good place to cope with it.

At 8:30 I had had enough. I slammed his homework folder closed and announced it was time for bed. He could explain to his teacher why his homework wasn’t done. He said he was still hungry. (He had been eating his dinner, in theory, for almost 2 hours at this point.) I said I didn’t care. I was finished. I sent him to his room to put on his jammies and tuck himself in. And then I went to bed and ignored him.

Ouch.

The guilt was there, but I was still fuming. At 9:30 I went to check on him. He was still reading, and it took every ounce of my strength not to yell at him. I took the book, turned off his light, and left.

I guess we both fell asleep at some point. And eventually I started dreaming. But the guilt stayed with me.

In my dream we were at a hotel. Boo told me he wanted to swim, but I said no, we had to get ready to check out. He got mad and defiantly announced he was going to go to the pool on his own. I got mad and said fine. (Just typing that makes me shiver in the light of day.) He went, I stayed, and only later did the panic hit. In my dream I suddenly realised he was in the pool alone and couldn’t swim. Was there a lifeguard? I didn’t know. So I ran. And, of course, being a dream I couldn’t find the pool at first. But when I did there was no one there, except my child, floating under the surface. I dove in fully clothed, but already knew I was too late. 

And then, thankfully, I woke up. And I ran to his room in real life to check and make sure he was ok.

Needless to say, he was. And he harboured no ill will from the night before. “Good morning, Mommy!”

I can’t say his experience has completely stopped me from yelling at him when pushed to my limit. But it did make me stop and think. We’re not perfect. None of us. Moms or kids. All we can do is put forward our best efforts and love each other, even when we’re angry.

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