Becoming a parent is quite possibly the most amazing thing you'll ever do in your life. Every day you are reminded in big and small ways how wonderful it is. The first smile from your baby at 3 weeks old melts you. The first time they put their hands together and realise they are clapping and they break into a frenzied clapping fit of excitement. The milestones. So many to remember.
When your bigger boy asks you how do you make butter, and you wonder where the past four years have gone? Because you clearly remember bringing him home from the hospital in an infant capsule, placing it on the floor in the lounge and staring at your hubby knowing that you are both thinking the same thing 'Oh my golly, what on Earth do we do with him now?'
Yes parenthood is wonderful. But the guilt is not.
I'd like to pretend it doesn't exist. That word. Some days I can push it down, far enough under the surface, to nearly ignore it.
Other days, it weighs so heavy.
The choices I have made, that we have made as a family. The little time I get to spend with these 2 fascinating creatures whom I helped bring into this world. If I were counting, I know some days I probably could count it in minutes. But I don't dare. It already hurts without me rubbing more salt into the wound.
The thing is, I love my work too. And yet I feel guilty for even beginning to enjoy it.
The feelings are even stronger now that the little time I have has to be split in two. Does Mylo know how much he is loved? Does he feel part of our family? Because he is quite a self-sufficient and independent soul, does he miss out even more because he just goes with the flow and doesn't make too much fuss?
How does Noah feel now when Mylo's needs are put before his? When we ask him to go and read a book in his room so Mylo can have some peace and quiet for his bottle. When we choose not to go out on the weekends if it doesn't fit in with Mylo's sleeps. How does he feel when I have to say no to playing or doing something with him because I am busy feeding, bathing, changing his brother? How much quality time is there in an evening when Noah comes home and watches a DVD for an hour out of the two before he goes to bed? I justify this to myself saying - it's the only TV he watches all day and some quiet time on the couch is a welcome change from the full-on 9 hour day he's just had at daycare.
Oh but how easy it is to churn and churn these thoughts around in my head until I'm in a lather of guilty, bubbly foam. It's a lather I bathe in often. Constantly.
And then the weekends come. And I eke, scrounge and scrape the barrel of hours and minutes available to be with my family. I've noticed we're doing at lot less lately. Closing out the world and just being together. But maybe that's partly just winter. These weekends have become sanctified, a bit like a holy grail. Something to protect at all costs.
Some days I feel so far from achieving Life Balance. What an elusive concept. Is it about being a stay at home mum at all costs? I've never felt that we have been in a position for me to choose to stay at home long-term even if I wanted to. But in reality, if I'm honest, the road we're on now is the one we have chosen. No-one has held us to ransom to get to where we are now. All the choices we have made over time have lead us to this path we are travelling on. Two parents working full-time, and two children in daycare full-time. I don't even like seeing the words written down.
The guilt will always be there. If it's not guilt over working, I easily find myself feeling guilty about so many other things. Clearly, this is not something I will ever conquer in my own strength.
When the guilt threatens to overtake me, the only hope I have is to choose to leave this burden with Him who said 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest'. Matthew 11 v 28. Firstly, I have to choose to lay it down though. To let go.
Not in my strength, but in His Divine strength.
Then maybe I could believe that I am doing the best I can. That every day I am learning more about how to be the best I can be. Being the best mum I can to these boys who deserve all the love and support in this world. No greater, higher calling. I hope they know how loved they are, every day, in every way. And how much richer, fuller, crazier and sweeter life is for me with them in my world.