A woman looking pensive at night


Every Night I Reflect On The Day With My Daughter And The Guilt Creeps In

Jul 22, 2019

Most nights I experience something I call the "nighttime guilties."

As a young mother, I’m never really alone. So the guilties come once my daughter's fallen asleep, after I’ve tidied and showered, when I’m finally lying in bed. After what feels like an exhausting day, I’ll lie down and pull the blanket up to my chin then turn on the TV for a bit before I go to sleep. That’s when I start to think about my day.

I’ll think about all the funny things my daughter said or did, and all the good things about our day. But then I’ll start wondering about what happened in between those moments. And when that starts, I begin to question myself.

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Did I engage with her enough? Did I continue to do laundry when she asked me to go play with her? Did I make her enough snacks, were her meals well-balanced? She didn’t say she was hungry, and she seemed satisfied, but was it enough?

The nighttime guilties is my way of reflecting on the job I am doing.

Was I strict enough with her when she did something she wasn’t supposed to do? Wait, was I too strict? Did she go to sleep with a kiss and a happy hug, or was her last memory before going to sleep about me being upset over something?

The thing about this is, I know there isn’t just one right way to parent. And I do believe in my own way of doing things, but sometimes what’s been planned and thought out doesn’t always work. And when that happens, I've found those moments can be really difficult.

I end up spending so much time thinking about the things I did and the things I could have done better. I start to feel so guilty. It’s a gut-wrenching feeling that is so hard to get away from. And I always ask myself, “Was I the best mom I could be today?” Honestly, sometimes the answer is no. Not because I feel like a bad mother — she’s happy. She has a warm bath every night, a tummy full of food and a happy heart. It's a no sometimes because there will always be something I could have done better.

Maybe she doesn’t realize it at the end of the day, but I do.

All I can do is go to sleep, wake up the next day and try my hardest to do what I believe is better.

The nighttime guilties is my way of reflecting on the job I am doing. Sometimes it can become a bit overwhelming to think of the things I could improve, but it’s really just a bunch of little things that can then be mistaken for flaws.

But even if this is how I reflect, it can also be the worst part of my day sometimes. Because the nighttime guilties aren't only about reflection. This phenomenon can make me feel self conscious about the way that I parent, it can make me feel defeated and like I’m just generally not doing a great job.

As somebody who often experiences guilt for even the littlest of things (things I shouldn’t be guilty for), to feel this way about parenthood can be a real kick when I’m down.

But I'm trying to use my tendency to feel this guilt to my advantage.

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I can’t go back in time and re-do the day no matter how much I want to. All I can do is go to sleep, wake up the next day and try my hardest to do what I believe is better. That's all any of us can do. There will always be rough days. But along with those, there will also be crazy, good, amazing (amazingly frustrating), want-to-pull-your-hair-out, full-of-love days.

I may not get every moment right. And I don’t do everything perfectly (wouldn't it be great if we could?). But it's taken becoming a parent to begin to realize that's OK. Because I’m right where my daughter needs me to be. She’ll always have my shoulder to lean on when she needs it.

I’ll always wonder if I’m doing something wrong, or if I’m doing something well enough. I think it’s a part of parenthood; it comes with having a child. So I'm giving this reminder to both you and myself: self-doubt doesn’t mean you’re doing a bad job. I think it just means we care so much about our children that we are determined to make the right changes for them.

Article Author Sabrina Boileau
Sabrina Boileau

Sabrina Boileau is 18, a student, and the proud mother of a beautiful two-and-a-half year old girl, Charlie. She is currently studying fitness and nutrition. When she is not studying or hopelessly trying to match socks, she is a freelance beginner writer. Sabrina hopes to one day become a published author.

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