The other day, my son and I were working out together, and he asked me a question about whether I would change anything about how I've been a parent.
As it happened, I was totally primed for that question. While seeing him off to school that morning, I had noticed someone riding a bike with a kid's bike attachment behind it. And it reminded me that I had always wanted to get one of those for him, but it hadn't happened. And I realized... I don't care. It didn't matter. And I felt really good about how much I'd let go of expectations and wishes and accepted how things are and that the past is past.
So I told him that and we had a really good conversation.
But the thing is... he kept asking the question of me and his father. At first I thought it was because it was such a good conversation starter before, but it started to have undertones. Undertones of "if you and dad had done this, maybe I wouldn't be so messed up and unhappy now." Then the undertones became actual overtones. And I started to get really mad. And insist that no, we couldn't have done things any differently than we did.
Today, I was chatting with some people on twitter about early days of parenthood, and someone said this: "The first few years I think guilt was my default emotion."
And I realized, this is why I've been so upset about my son's questioning. Because I lived with guilt for so many years, about what I did or didn't do to completely fuck my child up, and I had finally worked through a lot of it with my therapist. And now it was all coming back to me.
I went and told this amazing insight to my husband and he said, essentially, "Yeah, I know, and that's how I explained it to Son."