To all parents – stop beating yourself up

Celine Bell

Celine Bell

Gin fiend. Cheese eater.Mum of boys, two sleep-stealing monsters. Blogging about making sense of the mess, getting the balance right (or not) and trying not to balls it up.

Celine is a London-based writer who has worked in publishing for 15 years. You can check out more of my work at the Tantrum Creative Network and on Huffington Post.
Celine Bell

As a parent, you have multiple balls in the air at any one time.  Actually, scrap that, as a non-parent I was always busy, with work, social life and family commitments.  Throw two babies into the mix, and something is bound to give.

My phone died on me this week, and whilst I got it fixed quickly, it’s left a bug in the system.  Numerous appointments have fallen out of my schedule, and so when friends have texted to confirm I’ve had to apologise for double booking myself on what looked like an empty day.  As a super organised people-pleaser, I hate letting people down, and issue apologetic texts, filled with repentant hyperbole.  It may be easy enough for Kate Moss to “never explain, never apologise” but if you aren’t a world-famous supermodel you owe your mates, who also have busy calendars, an explanation for messing up.  But one girlfriend called me on it.  “Relax!  We’ll catch up soon.  It’s not a big deal.”  How right she is.

It’s not a big deal when your kids throw their home cooked meal on the floor, but it feels like it is, because you’ve cooked it yourself, it’s nutritionally valid, and for goodness sake it’s the end of the day and you are all knackered and can’t they just eat?! 

It’s not a big deal when your kid doesn’t sleep through the night but when you haven’t slept properly because one or the other is up most nights it feels like it is, and your exhaustion sucks all the joy out of the day ahead.  You grunt at your partner, who is equally knackered, and whilst that’s not a big deal either, it’s hardly the fun, silly chat you used to share.  And then you feel guilty for letting it all get you down, and you vow to do better, but the next time you peel pesto pasta off the Farrow and Ball it still gets you down.  And the cycle begins again.

Mum-guilt is present in all of my mates (and I’m all for calling it “parent-guilt”, only this seems a very female trait) and I’m over it.  I’m going to stop stressing about them eating mostly yellow food (so long as there is the odd bit of fruit in the mix).  I must stop stressing about the fact they’ve not been to swimming lessons or learned to ride a bike.  If I took all that wasted energy I could probably teach them front crawl and how to handle a BMX before the year is out.

And if I’ve let you down because my phone is on the blink, I’m sorry.  Text me back.  Let’s get another date in the diary.  Let’s have a glass of wine, and stop stressing about whether or not the babysitter is ok.  Because I bet Kate Moss doesn’t.