On the day my first child was born, I said to myself that I would be the best parent ever! I would make all the right decisions and my child would grow up to be the most amazing adult that ever walked the earth- all b/c I was so good at raising her.
On the 8th day after my child was born, when I took her to the doctor all dressed up in a cute-but-ridiculous little yellow duck outfit (complete with webbed feet and a bill) but without a pacifier, a bottle, a cloth diaper and an extra outfit, I said to myself Ok, well I messed up already, let's just start over, she won't remember this.
Today, I've been a parent for about 3,830 days. I have 2 kids. I average about 8 mistakes per day per kid. That's a lot of mistakes. I have a habit of wishing I could make a fresh start. When they were babies, I always had the excuse that they wouldn't remember. Now, I often catch myself thinking, Ok, if I make no more mistakes from here on out, how screwed up will my kids be by the time they reach adulthood. In other words, if all the mistakes only occur between birth and age 6, will my child remain unscathed or is it too late?
I once had an ongoing competition with a coworker to determine who was the World's Worst Parent. Sometimes she would show up at work and say "Michele, I'm the winner today. I am THE world's worst parent". And she would tell me what she did and we would laugh together. And sometimes, I was the winner.
This morning I would have been declared the winner after I "raised my voice" at Emily b/c she moved her head when I was installing 2 state of the art ponytails for spring picture day. As you can imagine, it wasn't really about the ponytails. It was about how I stayed-in-bed-too-long-hadn't-had-enough-coffee-couldn't-find-an-outfit-for-spring-pictures-needed-to-take-beverages-to-the-girl's-school-for-the-faculty-meeting-needed-to-get-to-work-on-time-really-needed-more-coffee.
My guilt is the same no matter what the offense might be. Sending my kids to daycare for 5 years while I worked leaves me with just as much guilt as buying Koolaid at the Salvage Store. If my kids become delinquents, I'll never know whether it was from daycare or the discount Koolaid I let them drink.
Or maybe they remember the duck outfit.