Sunday, 10 April 2016

Dad's feel guilty too don't they?

 
 
 
Recently, there have been so many articles and posts about mum Guilt. As a NICU mum I felt beyond guilty when Elijah was born. Check out my Mum Guilt post on Selfish Mother.

However, where is the dad guilt? Do dad's feel guilty? Or is this something us mums take upon ourselves to feel? Another thing as a mum we feel we have to take on (and then feel guilty about) because they don't? Is it a common mis conception that dad's don't feel guilty about anything?
 
When you have a baby, guilt is a huge part of motherhood, it's almost instant. The whole breast vs bottle argument is thrust in your face once your baby is born and your decision is then criticized by anyone and everyone. Something that dad cannot really feel guilty about, if baby doesn't latch and you formula feed (I think whatever you want or have to do is fine!).
 
As an equal partner in bringing the baby into this world and raising them, do dad's feel what we do? Are they harbouring secret guilt that they have not spoken about? Are they ashamed to feel guilty? Is it a masculine thing to keep it all to themselves and never say a word?
 
Where us mums have now united in accepting our mum guilt as part of motherhood and moving past it, how far away are dad's from this parenting revolution? There are many dad bloggers out there at the forefront of parenting blogs, but where are the posts about their guilt? Is it because as mothers we have now spoken about this subject so much it a common topic among us, sometimes even providing light relief that dad's haven't quite grasped yet?
 
What is the difference between mum and dad guilt? Do we as parents, need to stick two fingers up to the guilt that follows parents around like a bad smell? Why have only mum's started doing this? Where are the dads accepting it?  Is it the sheer responsibility of another human depending on you leading to the guilt, that eats us all up from the inside? Why as parents are we not discussing ALL GUILT and why are we just shining on mum guilt? Thus making said mum focus on guilt even more!
I don't think we can put it down to mums being the main caregivers anymore, as so many dads are more heavily and equally involved in bringing up their children compared to years gone by.
 
I have decided to do a social experiment (that's right putting my Science GCSE'S skills to good use) and ask my lovely partner and father of my son if he feels guilty and if so what does he feel guilty about and compare it to my mum guilt.
Now Greg, is as laid back as they come. Nothing really bothers him that much, if it does he doesn't tend to want to share it that much. When Elijah was waiting for his surgery date, I was literally going out of my mind with worry, I was having a breakdown where as Greg didn't look like it got to him.I mis took this for him not really worrying or caring as much as I did. Turns out he had put everything to the back of his mind. Choosing not to dwell on what could be before it happened. 
In our relationship it is always me who is the one that is bubbling over with emotions and hormones. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I saw a phrase the other day that is perfect in describing my mentality; as stable as an Ikea table. Where I was diagnosed with PTSD and depression and put on medication, Greg just didn't seem that phased. I didn't think as a dad he would feel guilty about anything.He doesn't show it. Greg never talks about it, I constantly say what a rubbish day I have had, as I am so tried and feel guilty for sitting Elijah in front of the TV. Greg just shrugs it off.
 
This experiment has proved me very wrong. It shows that yes, dad's do feel guilty and dad guilt is out there. Do I think this is because of what we have been through with Elijah? Maybe, but I think guilt would still have a major hand to play in our parenting game.
 
Does this apply to all dad's? I would place a pretty hefty bet it does. Why they don't discuss it as much as us mums? Are men still too proud to admit their feelings in particular their guilt as a parent? Perhaps, however so many more dads are now speaking up, is this something they just haven't quite figured out yet? Or, have I got this all wrong and you dads have felt the guilt, shook it off and moved on in the blink of an eye? Would we as partners benefit  in our relationship if we were more open about guilt?
 
So, we move on to WHAT we both feel guilty about. As you can see my list is pretty typical of a mum but in particular a NICU Mum. I won't go into each point as they are fairly straightforward and I don't want to repeat to you all what's in my earlier post. (To see this please click here to take you to the Selfish Mother site).
 
Now, Greg unlike lazy me didn't want me to attach his list as he apparently has awful handwriting. Compared to mine which has Elijah's scribbled on. So here is his dad guilt list;
 
1. Smoking, it's a vice I do not have the will power to kick. Although I do not smoke around him.
2. Time, as I work a lot my time is limited, so I cherish what time we do have together.
3. Money, we do not struggle for cash but I wish I could give him all the things I want to.
4. His shitty start to life. Something I both admire him for and feel guilty about. He has had major heart surgery before his 1st birthday. Most adults do not even have to go through this in their life.
5. When he is being naughty, because of the above I cannot stand telling him off. But he also needs to learn like any toddler.
6. Feeling so helpless when Elijah and Vicki were in hospital.
7.The fear of being a rubbish parent. My Dad was a bad father, and I hope I will not let history repeat itself.
8. His condition. Deep down I worry it is my fault. Heart conditions run in my family.
9. I regret not being able to drive, and should have sorted this out before he was born.
10.Being apprehensive about giving Elijah a sibling in case this happens to us again.
Well there you have it folks, proof that there is guilt on both sides. Although its strange to think of all the time we have both spent blaming ourselves for Elijah's condition. In reality it was likely to be one of those cruel twists of fate every now and again you get dealt. It isn't anyone's fault. 
 
I wonder how much wasted time all parents spend feeling guilty? How do we stop it? I don't think we can, I think mother nature gave us guilt as part of the package of becoming a parent.
 
I can never stop myself feeling guilty for something, Elijah watching too much TV, I don't read to him enough, he isn't eating organic veg etc. but I think I am learning to move past it and not let it eat me up. After what we have gone through these things just do not matter,it doesn't mean we will stop feeling the guilt, I think we just don't feel it for as long.
I just wish I could of told myself this a year ago. I also wish I spent less time resenting Greg for not feeling guilty, when he was harbouring all of this deep secret guilt. Dads do feel guilty. Parents feel guilty. The bloody cat probably feels guilty. Let's accept it, move on and focus on something else.... like all the toys we cannot be arsed to pick up and will no doubt stand on in the middle of the night when said little darlings wake up for the third time in one night because Iggle Piggle has got wedged down the side of the bed. AGAIN.


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