Monday, December 14, 2009

Guilt

I have a terrible confession to make.

It turns out I didn't really miss le Petit during our weekend getaway to Burgundy. I knew he was in good hands, cared for by people who would probably have more patience than I would for snail-paced trips to the park by tricycle and endlessly read and re-read story books. I was more concerned that my in-laws would be worn out and exhausted by the time we got back than I was about le Petit.

It felt a little strange at first, after we left, just the two of us, with no chirping commentary from the back seat and no children's music on the car CD player. By the time we reached Beaune I felt slightly buzzed on the flagrant ducking of responsibility, like a high school student skipping class and hopping a bus for downtown. Replace "I'm 16, and I should be in chemistry class," with "I'm a mommy, and somewhere my toddler is eating his fourth cookie and terrifying his grandmother by tumbling head first from the couch."

We got to eat at fabulous restaurants, savor the wine and tarry at the table for hours. That night, we left the restaurant three and a half hours after we'd arrived. I felt I discussed more with my husband in two days than over the previous three months. I hadn't realized just how the background process of taking care of a toddler takes up so much of our brain and leaves little room, even after le Petit is asleep, for meaningful adult conversation.

So I realized, with great guilt, that for those brief two days I didn't miss le Petit that much after all. And now I'm admitting it on my blog. The guilt hit me when I woke up in the middle of the night, heart racing, having just dreamt that we'd forgotten le Petit in a parking lot. Mère indigne! Unworthy mother! Then as we were driving back on Sunday night I peeked over my shoulder at the empty car seat and felt an odd wave of panic.

I was relieved to find that le Petit didn't seem to miss us much, either. He greeted us nonchalantly with a grin when his grandparents dropped him off. But he woke up three times in the middle of the night, a very rare occurrence these days, and I wondered, is it our fault? Am I the only one who beats herself up about these sorts of things?

9 comments:

Andi said...

Felicitacions for a weekend away. I think all mothers feel guilty when they do those types of things, seems normal. It is really important to have those weekend, 15 or so years from now when Le Petit is off to college, you don't want to look across the table at a stranger, you have to have time for you as a couple. Enjoy!

Duchesse said...

I think your reaction is normal, but what drives me crazy is that you'll never hear a father saying that he feels guilty for leaving his child for a couple of days so he can have time to himself. La vie est mal faite! La vie... ou les femmes!;)

Cloud said...

I felt really guilty about our first night away- although we did it much earlier, when our daughter was only 7 months old. And I felt guilty for just wanting to sleep more than anything else.

It got easier. I'm now looking forward to our first night away after the birth of baby #2. I'm not sure when that will be- we haven't even gone out for a meal without the kids yet. But baby #2 is only 2 months old.

paola said...

The first time I left the kids alone with their grandma I spent the whole time thinking about the little one (she was 16 months I think). I missed her so much.

The second time, this June (we were in your neck of the wooks actually), we were having too much fun to think about the kids too much. Perhaps age has a bit to do with it, seeing they were 4.5 and 2.5. Guilt? Nah.

paola said...

..... that should be 'woods'. As in Tiger.

caramama said...

I'm glad you guys had a good time! My guess is Le Petit is better off for you guys having time together. :-)

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

@Andi, @caramama - you're absolutely right. And I tell myself that modeling a happy married couple is good for le Petit, right? Some day he'll grow up and marry someone, and I hope he remembers to plan romantic weekends away...

@Duchesse - I know, most the guilt seems mommy-specific! My husband, although he easily does half or more of the baby-care tasks in the house, and is the first to worry terribly when le Petit gets a cold or acts upset when we leave for work, did not feel at all guilty leaving him for a weekend.

@Cloud, Paola - I want to test this theory that it gets easier. Another weekend is in order this spring, I think!

vitamine d said...

I was searching some other information and just came up with your post and i found the title of your post interesting and i begin to read.I really don't understand what to say but i think you guys have a good time together.Thanks for sharing.

r4 card said...

It is caused by thinking that we have done something wrong. We think we have done something wrong because we judge ourselves or someone else judges us. A child does not "feel guilty" until someone tells her that she has offended someone or hurt someone's so called "feelings”.