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Mommy’s worst kind of guilt

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Mommy’s worst kind of guilt

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Tomorrow is Halloween or, as I like to call it, preschool Mardi Gras, as it includes costumes, screams, and loud music; and I once saw a 3 year old dramatically throwing up on the sidewalk while wearing a three piece suit. It’s not my favorite occasion, in part because I’m completely addicted to making costumes for my kids.

I used to feel no guilt about it – my oldest daughter wore the same hastily purchased owl costume for three consecutive years, then her sister wore it. I wasn’t swayed or inspired by a million Pinterest promises of “easy Halloween ideas”, nor ashamed by other moms lovingly flaunting their homemade Moana costumes on Instagram.

But these days I feel guilty that I didn’t make my 6 year old into an amazing costume … because She is make me feel guilty. Why do his friends’ moms do them costumes, when I bought her vampire outfit on the internet? she asked. I couldn’t answer her in a way she found satisfactory.

Deep down, I don’t believe that putting a ton of effort into my kids’ Halloween experience is a good use of my time – I’m not cunning, and anything I could try to do wouldn’t be up to the requirements of my eldest daughter. standards. The weather is supposed to be miserable in much of the country on Halloween, so even if I made an acceptable costume it would be covered in a raincoat.

Still, I can’t help but feel like I’m lagging behind. This is because the guilt coming from your children “is the most difficult” to deal with, said Dr Pooja Lakshmin, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at George Washington University. It’s more stealthily devastating than the guilt coming from other parents or society in general, Dr Lakshmin said.

The first thing you can do to deal with guilt (costume-related or otherwise) is recognize that it’s perfectly okay to feel bad that your child is disappointed, while also recognizing that your child’s complaints do not mean that you should do something different. “Guilt doesn’t have to be a compass,” said Dr Lakshmin. “It may just be a feeling that you have. And it sucks, ”but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a moral judgment about you or your behavior.

Plus, if I forced myself to make my kid into a mediocre costume, she would probably feel resentment simmering under that poorly constructed vampire cloak. “A lot of what kids remember is less about what you actually do and more about how they feel when they do it with you,” said Dr Lakshmin. It’s more important that I’m present with her on Halloween, having fun and eating candy, Dr Lakshmin explained, because it’s that happy family time that she’ll remember a year from now, rather than of his disappointment with a store-bought costume. .

Finally, it’s important to model good boundaries for your children – in fact, Dr. Lakshmin wrote a great article for us on how saying ‘no’ is self-empowerment for parents. By saying ‘no’ to certain things, we are showing our children that we value our time and interests, Dr Lakshmin said. (One thing to note, however: if you have intense and persistent maternal guilt that is so extreme that it’s your main feeling, it may be time to see a mental health professional, as it could be a symptom. postpartum or clinically significant depression or anxiety.)

I am fortunate that my daughter’s best friend has a very cunning mother, who is ready to take my child under her wing and teach her to sew, so that one day she can make her own dang costume. The kicker? Her own girl has very little interest in crafts. Maybe we should trade.

Parenting can be a chore. Let’s celebrate the small victories.

Getting my 2 year old out of the daycare playground is the hardest part of the after work routine. So I told him I got an emergency message saying Roomba was stuck under the couch and we had to save him. It worked! Made me feel so smart.

– Rebecca English, Washington, DC

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