There’s a kind of pressure that comes with being a parent.
It’s the fact that 24 hours a day you are responsible for another, or multiple, human beings. You can’t take time off; if the kids are present you need to be on your best behaviour.
It’s like working in a job where the boss is always present.
If the boss was aged three and covered in snot.
The wonderous thing about parenting, is that children have so much grace. They forgive our shortcomings more readily than we ourselves do. Even when we lose it, at them or the world, all it takes is a sincere apology and it is forgotten. The slate is wiped clean.
Unless, of course, you are a single parent.
Or you were a single parent.
Or your child has another person they call mum, or dad that they spend time with. A person who may, or may not like you very much. A person who does not share your values, does not understand the stress of parenting (on account of the fact that they only do it part time), and does not get that sometimes, mistakes are made.
In that situation, the guilt never goes away.
I do my best, as a mum, but I do stuff it up, quite regularly. I know my kids are tolerant and love me anyway, and I know that should Taylah have to choose between myself and her biological father…. well there is not a choice. She wouldn’t even find that hard.
But I am always on my guard. Careful of the words I say, the things that I do. Reminding her that some information is not to be shared, without putting her in the impossible position of ‘don’t tell you father.’
I hated that position.
Maybe it makes me a better Parent, because I am always mindful. Maybe it just makes me a little paranoid. But when it was suggested to me that I ask him to rearrange his contact time on the weekend so it fitted in with my schedule, I didn’t feel comfortable.
I don’t want to ask him to have her for extra time, so that I can do something.
For starters, I know she wouldn’t enjoy it.
Secondly, I don’t want to set the precedent. That his allocated times are set in concrete (as they are) unless it doesn’t suit me. I rely on reliability and dependability. I can’t very well be the opposite.
I know he wouldn’t particularly care, but I can’t do it, and I can’t even really say why.
Just that some part of me will not upset the precarious balance because someone else wants my company. That doing so would somehow cross some invisible line in the sand, that I did not even realise I had drawn.
I don’t just have one child to consider; I have four. A whole family who needs structure and routine, and gets invited to birthdays and events, and sometimes these things clash with drop off and pick up times, and I am left with a dilemma. Whose schedule changes? Who misses out? Who will leave early/arrive late or not attend at all?
One decision, made so long ago carries so much weight for the people I adore now.
I don’t worry about my kids forgiving me; they do and they understand me.
Same with boatman. No one ever realises he is not her blood. There is no difference in his affection towards her than any of the others.
But the rest of the world that I send my babies into…. that is my concern.
The ones who see and yet don’t understand.
Who don’t know me or my heart, and that I love my children so much I would never intentionally hurt them or hold them back from anything that is necessary to see them become the people they ought to be.
And that sometimes what seems easy and best is actually neither.
I’m not even sure if this makes sense.
I hope so.
But if it doesn’t it’s because of the pressure.
Always the pressure.