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I am a wife, mother, and step-mom. I am not perfect, but try my best to reduce damage control. I have incredible family and friends that encourage us on this adventure. My mom always told me that motherhood isnt for whimps... and I couldn't agree more!

Monday, June 13, 2011

True Intentions: A Mother's Guilt

Babies come with oodles of warning labels: "Dont use pacifiers" "The breast is best" "Make sure to use Dreft detergent" "Dont burp that way..." "Hold the head"  "watch out for belly button" ... the list goes on. But the one that someone forgot to warn me about was the Mother's guilt. It was intense and would evoke me to tears on occasion. It could motivated me to go three days without a shower, spend sleepless nights rocking her, Work a 10 hour day to afford diapers, make sure she was content and full before touching my own meal, hold her hand in the back seat even though my arm was going numb... the emotion changed my life.

I got the job with the fire department when she was 2 years old. I was working long hours and had an even longer commute. My ex, then husband at that time was our daughter's care taker while I was working. I would come home to find him high and intoxicated. I knew without the drugs he was intolerable and had a temper that left bruises, both physical and emotional. I hated leaving her with him, but knew I had to provide for my family- because no one else could. I was afraid what he would do if I suggested we find a daycare for our daughter while I worked- and placed her in danger to avoid his temper. I had a lot of guilt over my long hours, her inadequate and abusive caregiver, my willingness to place her in harm to avoid his wrath... and that is when it started. I would come home with small gifts for her every day: M&M candies, candy necklace, PEZ candies, chapsticks, small flashlights... etc.

After we left her dad, it didnt get any better... in fact I am pretty sure that it got worse. Now, in addition to carrying the guilt of long hours at work, sacrificing her safety with knowledge of abuse, I also piled on the guilt of being an only parent, her grief for her absentee dad, my shattered dreams of raising my baby with a loving and doting father, my personal desire to have some adult time, added guilt when I yelled at her, guilt for feeling like I require too much of her... the guilt piled on my plate. I already was in the habit of bringing home small surprises for her, and with the additional guilt it felt easier to make her smile with a bag of Skittles. But it wasnt just a bag of Skittles... it was chocolate milk at bed, that toy, and that movie, and that pack of gum, and that dress-up makeup... I found myself bribing her all the time. This did not alleviate my guilt either; in fact I felt more guilty that I was bribing her, giving her unhealthy things to eat and drink, not teaching her a good work ethic, teaching her that instant gratification was best... I couldnt win.

After reading another mom's post regarding bribes and rewards, I decided on the following plan to wean myself of giving unhealthy bribes, and my daughter of expecting them.
To read the full post on why bribes are bad, and creative forms of rewarding check out this:

I took a baggie of pocket change and put it to good use. When she does something good, I will pay her... ie: putting her plate into the sink after dinner, picking up her toys before bed, and listening to her nanny while Im at work...

We cut a piece of paper the size of a small Mason jar. She decorated it with glitter, and stickers, eyes, and markers.
We used a small mason jar. This way it gets filled up quicker and is more encouraging.

This idea makes me smile too! It teaches her the value of a dollar, it can be hard to earn it... and even harder to save it! I really hope this works for us!! I will let you know how it goes!!


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