As a parent, guilt is an emotion you have to get up close and personal with. Even as a stay-at-home mom I experience guilt. But it's hard not to when the Ideal Parent these days is fun! and engaging and always finds those "teachable moments" while never raising their voice and taking the kids on exciting field trips and packing nutritious lunches with no added sugar and doing crafts and baking projects all while creating amazing dinners and decorating the baby's nursery with cute items found antiquing. There's no room in there for frustration or drive-thru McDonald's or wanting time for yourself.
The biggest guilt-inducer for me is Having Two Kids. When it was only Ben and me I could focus on him and I felt like we really connected. For the past 16 months my attention has always been divided and I feel like I'm not really seeing either kid. I'm half listening to Ben chatter while I try to coax Sam to eat something. I'm saying, "I'll read that to you in a minute, Sam," as I help Ben kill goombas and turtles in Mario Brothers. Even though we're together almost ALL THE TIME, I don't feel like I have enough time for either of them. With Sam it's a little better, because Ben's at school three mornings a week, so we have that time, but there's almost no time when it's just Ben and me. After Ben's quiet time Sam is usually still napping, so that would be the perfect time for us to have... But honestly by mid-afternoon I'm wiped and I hate to admit it, but more often than not Ben spends that time playing video games or watching TV, so I can have some peace and relative quiet.
The other big guilt-fest is that Sam isn't having the same kind of very early childhood that Ben did. When Ben was a toddler he didn't have sugar until after he was one, he had age-appropriate, educational toys everywhere he looked and he never really watched TV until he was a year and a half and even then it was only PBS, strictly 30-60 minutes per day, no more! Ben had my full attention and we went out to new and different places almost every day.
Sam's been watching SpongeBob SquarePants since before he could crawl, he had cake and ice cream and french fries, all way before his first birthday and right now one of his favorite things is to carry around the Nerf gun and have you shoot darts at the window for him.
He and Ben were born into different circumstances and they're not the same person and they don't need to be treated the same way, necessarily, either. But it's hard not to think that I'm disadvantaging Sam somehow by not providing him the same things Ben had. But I can't provide him a first-child existence, so I should just stop worrying about it, right? Well, I'll let you know how that goes.