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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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« A little knowledge is a dangerous thing | Main | Plugging those who are not me »
Friday
Mar302007

Guilt, guilt, and more guilt.

Oh my, am I ever fired up. Fired up but good! You'll have to go to Wonderland to find out why.

In other news, my son, Henry—perhaps you've heard me mention his name here before—he's at preschool right now. On Friday, school lets out at 12:30. But his school provides this lovely aftercare option, wherein you can leave your child to fingerpaint and cavort and pee in his pants and all those activities that preschoolers enjoy. Aftercare continues until five p.m. It's cheap. It's awesome.

Now, I work. I have projects, and deadlines, and I make (a little) money, and so forth. Ending my work day at 12:15 simply does not cut it, in terms of Getting Things Done. Meanwhile, aftercare, to Henry, is a tiny wedge of heaven—a place where he gets to play with all the Legos a Lego addict like himself could wish for. If I don't leave him in aftercare, he's angry with me. When I pick him up, he begs to say for another few minutes.

I need it. Henry loves it. But—can you see where this is going?—leaving him there fills me with guilt. FILLS. I am guilt-soaked. I am marinating in it. No, I'm macerated by guilt, and covered in a lovely sage-infused guilt reduction. But why? Why, my friends? Am I trained to feel inadequate, no matter which decisions I choose? Because you can bet that if I picked him up at 12:30 and he wanted to stay, I'd feel you-know-what.

Oh, but this is all such a cliché. Hi, I'm a cliché! I'm steps away from this, except without the laughs:

Reader Comments (42)

Aftercare, he will survive. If it makes you feel any better, my mom stayed home and that probably screwed me up more than daycare would've. No offense to my mom, she's nice, but isn't parenting supposed to be a perpetual Catch-22?
April 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJackie
Will it make you feel any better if I confess that my kids went to daycare even when I didn't have a job? That I upped my daughter's daycare schedule to full time for a while while pregnant with my son because I needed privacy to throw up in peace?

Whoever made the comment about the socialization routine is right on target. Wait until he gets to kindergarden and can sit still and follow directions - you'll be happy for every hour he spent away from you, learning how to function as part of a group.
April 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterVelma
My kid is 24 and a half and moved out before your kid was even born: I still find new things to feel guilty about.
April 1, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterzoom!
Wow. You're steps away from hijacking an SNL lackey, having a grrrrl-band play a Guns 'N Roses song in your minivan, and catching your husband flirting with someone half his age?

Ouch.

I suggest heavy drinking ASAP.
April 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterYou can call me, 'Sir'
If son loves the afterschool care and you love the afterschool care there is no conflict, NO reason to feel guilt.If he were crying his little eyes out every time you picked him up I would worry. But he is not and so you should not feel guilt.

Easy Peasy ;) Stop with the guilt!
April 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
I don't know whether I'm trained to feel inadequate at all times (I feel inadequate when shopping at the supermarket) or if it is simply some sort of neurobiological thingy that my mother or one of my ancestors should feel inadequate about...and which I may pass onto my innocent child, etc. Along with all the guilt I pray she doesn't inherit, I think guiltily. About my guilt.

Occasionally I tell myself: You are probably feeling guilty about the wrong thing. There's probably something even worse you are doing that you really should feel guilty about and don't even notice. But that's probably going in the wrong direction.



April 1, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterozma
Braine,that article is shockingly written, selectively interpreting a dubious study to highlight the viewpoint they want.

1) they define daycare as more than 10 hours per week by anyone other than the mother. Er.... hello daddy?

2) arguing and being defiant is a "disorder"? Or just training for anyone who actually wants to get a proper job when they grow up? (I write as asst. prof of law, so I might have a slight bias as to what constitutes a proper job. But let's just say, you don't want people to think for themselves on the Walmart checkout, but you do in law or academia).

3) "Both the negative and the positive effects were subtle." And in a study of 1300 that would be barely statistically relevant then?

4) You have absolutely no idea what it means when these kids grow up. Nor, once you control for parental education, income, residence, school, will you be able to ever find out because your sample is so small.

5) "attention from parents is far more important to how a child turns out than day care or schooling." Well, my isn't that a surprise? I wonder if that's because PARENTS raise their kids and instill values, not kindergarten teachers, nannies, au pairs or childminders.

I interpret the findings as follows: Stay at home mums confom to social expectations (in the US) about their "proper roles". Their kids are also more likely to conform. Kids who have to compete for attention learn communication skills to get what they want.(This is a completely bias interpretation but no more so than that on msnbc.)

I'm happy to see my toddler disagree with me, fight for what he wants, be wilful and determined. That is what will give him the fuel to achieve whatever he sets his mind to.

I'd love to see a similar study in Denmark or Iceland.

Alice - enough of the guilt. My LO doesn't want to come home either at 4pm - and he is only 21 months and really should still be at the completely in love with mamma stage.
April 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRLJ
Ah, guilt. Mother be thy name...
April 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMallory
Oh, RLJ, I think I love you.
April 2, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteralice
Gawd!!! I can't WAIT to get me some kids and a mini-van!!
April 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLa Cubana Gringa
That is a GREAT video! Holy LOLLERSKATES.
April 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJenny
My second son was born right after the first started kindergarten, so I was home with first the one and then the other for TEN years. There was no weeping at the busstop from me when the second started extended-day kindergarten. Hell, I went home skipping (I may have even whistled) and had a cocktail for lunch that day. Henry's telling you he loves it, so go enjoy your free time, guilt-free!
April 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPeggasus
Hey RLJ,

Yeah, sure, right, whatever...but what about my kid's advanced vocabulary!? What the hell am I gonna do with a ten-year-old who knows words that are more fancy that I don't know what?

No but really, you and I are in complete agreement: such studies are generally shams and media outlets like MSNBC have no idea how to report on even a valid scientific study with the degree of detachment and nuance it actually calls for.

As a recovering sixth-grade disobedient arguer (with top-notch vocab skills), I guess I thought my attitude was evinced by my ironic application of the false values of "winning" and "losing" to the challenge of parenting.
April 2, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbraine
I think I have something wrong with me because I *don't* feel the guilt. I mean, I miss him and worry about him... but I am not marinating like A-1 sauce.

Oh, and I love Jeannie's wig. That was priceless.
April 2, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteraimee/greeblemonkey
the husband? is my good friend from high school!
April 2, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterlaurie
alice, that's some compensation for the fact I'm not 100% sure my son does... do you want to come and be my nanny? I mean MY nanny, not my son's.

braine, the vocabulary problems can be avoided if you raise your child trilingual. 21 months and about 3 comprehensible sounds. There could be trouble when he is a teenager yelling at me in Icelandic and I haven't a scooby doo; but I've already worked it all out and I think my own ignorance will come to be a blessing.
April 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRLJ
Wait till he's 9 and doesn't want you to even kiss or hug him in public. That's when the heart really breaks.
April 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGullebarn

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