Nobody ever really tells you about the guilt associated with becoming a parent. And even if they do mention it your pre-parent self no doubt shrugged it off. Oh, that'll never happen to me.
It has happened to every parent that I know though, to differing degrees of course.
Going back to work? Guilt.
Children having trouble settling into nursery? Guilt.
Putting a dvd on at the weekend while you get a few things done? Guilt.
Feeding your children rubbish because you haven't had time to cook and you know they won't eat your food anyway? Guilt.
Well when you have made a conscious decision to divide their family into two that guilt is more than doubled.
After school today I had to go pick up the car from the garage, so I left youngest at home and asked eldest if she wanted to come with me or go back home and play with Nana. "I want to come with you Mummy," was the reply. I explained that it might take a while to pick up the car but she was keen so we set off on the bus to the garage. Once there I discovered the car was not ready (surprise) and we could have up to an hour to wait. Again I asked five year old if she wanted me to take her home, but she wanted to stay. Obviously the word 'hour' has no real meaning to her, but still it made me feel that she was really so desperate for some time alone with me that she was prepared to sit in a boring car showroom just to get that. Of course maybe to a five year old a car showroom has more appeal than it does to a 30-something mother-of-two who has neither the means nor desire to buy a new car, I mean they had a box of crayons after all. But it did give me a pang of that by now familiar guilt. Living on my own with two young children, it is rare that my eldest gets time with me alone, and I was impressed with her response to this particular chance. We drew and coloured together, and chatted about our day. In hindsight it was more than just an hour in a car showroom.
Now I just had a text message saying the girls can go to the other half of their family for two nights this coming weekend, rather than the usual one night. This means I can do more of the chores that build up during the week, and also go out and see friends two whole nights in a row. What do I feel? Guilt, of course.