I pretty much never feel Daddy Guilt. As in, it never even occurs to me to feel guilty.
I’ve been trying to figure out why, because I was raised to constantly feel guilty (it comes standard with the Asian OS installed in me as a kid). So I made a list of the things that I do for Charlie (Bee and I divide and conquer the kids: Bee mostly watches Olive, while I mostly watch Charlie):
* Wake up with him every day, and hang out with him until daycare starts at 9.
* Help prepare his lunch sometimes, so Bee can get some morning time with him (if Olive is sleeping).
* Walk Charlie to daycare, usually together with Bee.
* Pick up Charlie from daycare by 6 pm.
* Bee and I trade off on feeding him (although she’s much better at getting him to eat, and does it more often than me).
* Play with Charlie until bath time.
* Give Charlie a bath (i.e. coax him into the tub, then coax him out).
* Dress Charlie for bed.
* Give Charlie his bottle.
* I’ve been holding Charlie’s hand until he falls asleep, since he has been having trouble transitioning to sleep lately. Sometimes he insists that I sleep next to him, and so I do that a few times a week now.
I felt pretty good about that list! But here is the list of things that I don’t do for Charlie:
* I don’t cook his food, or prepare his meals. Bee does all of that, and I just serve Charlie leftovers from the fridge. Or, snacks.
* I don’t anticipate or research important decisions, like which daycare or preschool Charlie should go to. Bee does all the research and we discuss her findings and make a decision together.
* I don’t make Charlie’s doctor’s appointments, or bring him in for vaccine shots — although I’ve brought Charlie in for his last few appointments, since we had Olive. But Bee still made the appointments.
* I don’t buy his food from the market, or buy him almost anything else for that matter (e.g. clothes, diapers, gear, toiletries).
* I don’t think about Charlie’s needs beyond the near term. If it’s getting cold, I won’t think to get him a jacket or a hat. These things just magically appear, because one of Charlie’s parents is actually thinking beyond a one-day time horizon!
That’s a lot of things that I don’t do. Do I feel guilty? Intellectually, maybe. But emotionally, not really. I feel like I am a pretty good dad. But actually, I didn’t do nearly this much for Charlie when he was a baby. Did I feel guilty then? Nope.
I guess I am just not wired to feel Daddy Guilt. I don’t think I have ever felt guilty about my parenting choices actually. I read somewhere that the key the first year is just to keep your little one alive. By that measure, I am an immense success!
That said, I do feel constant and regular guilt since having Charlie. I have an extremely bad case of Work Guilt. Like Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock, my last words will probably be, “I wish I had worked more.” I constantly feel guilty that I am not working more. It is a nagging guilt that never goes away. I have made (and regularly make) decisions in such a way that favor Charlie over Work, and I feel terrible about it.
I feel powerless though, because there’s just so much to do and I can only do so much of it in the 24 hours we’re given a day.
Is that what Mommy Guilt feels like? Also, does your SO feel any Daddy Guilt?