Parental guilt starts from the minute the pink lines appear on the pregnancy test stick and you and your partner think back to the previous Saturday night when two bottles of sparkling white were consumed along with some sashimi and camembert cheese. Oops - already starting off on a bad foot. And it goes on from there....
Our parental guilt reached fever pitch on Saturday night, coiniciding with a real fever pitch: my daughter's temperature in fact. 39 degrees celcius and rising. Off to Emergency we went, carrying only a clutch with lip gloss, a Medicare card, credit card for the exorbitant parking fee, and enough guilt to make the Catholic Church rub their hands with satisfied glee.
Our little pallid skinned, feverishly burning family unit had four hours to reflect on our parental guilt while we sat in the children's emergency room, facing off with other guilty family units nursing broken elbows, possible kidney stones, bronchitis, and several delightful cases of gastroenteritis. Here are the things to be learnt from the children's ward of the ER:
- You will be wearing your worst clothes, barely fit for public display. You'll feel guilty for this because it will confirm that you keep a messy house and you're too lazy to maintain suitable clothing into the evening hours.
- You will make jokes to the nurses about DOCS being called in response to whatever has happened to your kid. Broken arm? We've told little Jonny not to run down the stairs a million times. Gastro? I thought the leftovers might have been a bit too old. Measles? We thought they might have been mosquito bites. Guilty, guilty, guilty. You are a negligent parent.
- You will mirror the expression of all the other parents in the ward - the thousand yard stare as you think back to the good times when you didn't have any responsibility. Remember Saturday nights when you'd be doing shots, and contemplating whether you'd dance to the next track or go outside to chat up some hottie that made eyes at you ten minutes ago? Remember? You'll feel guilty thinking like this because you should be feeling sorry for your little sick person, not sorry for yourself. You know what? You'll still feel more sorry for yourself.
- You will have a full bladder and you'll be thirsty as hell. You'd like to go to the bathroom, and have a drink of water, but the sick kid won't let you leave them, and you dare not touch the gastro germed taps or toilet seat of the emergency ward. You'll feel guilty for thinking only of your own needs. You should be selfless. But you still seriously need to go to the toilet.
- You will silently convey allegience with the other parents as you take your script, pick up your kid, and stagger out of the ward to make your way through the plastic doors out to freedom. You're all in this together: you're guilty, we're guilty. We're all bad parents. Until we meet again next flu season comrades - take strength for the battelfield that is parenting.
The only antidote to a guilt laden trip to emergency is a healthy week's dose of antibiotics and we are currently enjoying the fresh hell of forcing cherry flavoured medicine down a resistant baby's throat. Awesome.
Anyone else had an attack of the parental guilts lately?