parental guilt

I’ve been suffering lately with a terrible case of parental guilt. You see, I’m writing this from my hotel room at Brit Mums Live. I’ve left S overnight, for the second time in her life (the first time was for Brit Mums Live last year).

I don’t necessarily feel guilty for leaving her; I know she’ll be having an awesome time with her beloved De Af in my absence, and she’s been really excited about it since I told her I was going away. What I feel guilty about is the money.

Last year I was sponsored for Brit Mums Live, and the event didn’t really cost me anything. This year, I’ve not been sponsored. I bought my ticket, I paid for my hotel, I paid my train fare. We don’t exactly have wads of spare cash in our house, so it was a big decision for me to come here.

It’s not that S has missed out on anything by my coming to London for 2 days; her clothes are not in holes, and she has more pairs of shoes that fit her than I do. But I still feel guilty that I had that cash in the bank, and I spent it on a hotel room, a ticket, train fare, and not… things for her.

Earlier this year I entered a competition and won a £100 John Lewis voucher. I put it in my purse and planned to use it to buy some clothes “at some point.” And then, the other day, I realised that John Lewis doesn’t only sell clothes. It occurred to me that I could use it to buy a tablet. I looked online and found one, put a bit of cash towards it, and bought it. As soon as I got it home, I wanted to take it back. I felt awful for having spent that money on myself. How selfish of me, to have just spent over £100, on myself – on top of going to Brit Mums Live for the weekend! I honestly can’t recall the last time I spent that much money on myself. Possibly my last holiday to Spain, five years ago.

What’s the problem here? S has everything she could possibly wish for. She wants for nothing; she has lots of lovely clothes and toys. There is nothing I could have feasibly spent that cash on, for her. But I still feel like it should have gone to her, and not to me. Definitely not for me to be spending a night away from her – even in an overpriced, stuffy and noisy hotel room!

I think if I’m honest, even three years after he left our lives, I feel like the ex would judge my parenting decisions. Still, when I spent money on myself I can hear him tutting, calling me selfish. Once when I was with him, I went shopping with my sister for the day. I came back with a big Primark bag and an item of clothing for everyone in the house – but also a few items for myself. Many comments were made about how very decadent and selfish it was for me to be going off shopping, buying clothes for myself. I wrote a post a while ago where I told the story of the green jeans I bought when S was small… I’m not sure I’m quite over that feeling to be honest. Perhaps I can buy a pair of (cheap) jeans without feeling awful – but I struggle with anything larger. And I’m not sure if that’s a good thing because it keeps me from being selfish (single mum on benefits buying booze and fags and a flat screen TV), or a bad thing because I deserve to spend some money on myself sometimes. It’s an ongoing battle in my head!

I feel like my justification for all this frivolous spending on myself is that I’m doing it in order to make a better future for us. Since the beginning of this year, my blog has been a part of my business – so I need to learn about how to make the blog work well for me, so that I can earn money from it. It also helps to meet brands and PRs, and of course to have a more personal relationship with my fellow bloggers.

I am missing S terribly. For three years she has slept by my side, and this morning when I dropped her off at nursery, I had to hold back tears. All morning I put off packing because I didn’t want to actually go. All the way up to London on the train, I wanted to turn around and go back. But the money has been spent, the hotel been booked. The only option now is to make sure it hasn’t been a waste of money. I intend to come home with a notebook full of useful notes, a handbag full of business cards, a phone full of photos.


Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


Natasha · 19/06/2015 at 23:02

I can totally resonate with this post. My S has everything he needs (and wants really) but I feel guilty when I spend on myself rather than on him. On the rare occasion I go shopping for me, I come home with more stuff for him than myself. I think it’s just an in built thing.

    Vicky Charles · 21/06/2015 at 07:46

    ha Natasha you’re so right! Even when I’ve resolved to spend money on myself, I go into the ladieswear section and end up drifting to kidswear! It’s so much easier to buy something in age 3-4 and know she’ll either wear it now or grow into it. With clothes for me it’s all “will these be too long, which size do I need these in, does this colour go with this…” nightmare!
    So lovely to meet you this weekend x

Elaine @ Entertaining Elliot · 19/06/2015 at 23:44

Sometimes its nice to treat ourselves, we work bloody hard as mums and we deserve a treat! Enjoy it and think of the cuddles you’ll get when you get home :) xx

    Vicky Charles · 21/06/2015 at 07:43

    Thanks Elaine, I was secretly happy when S woke up at 10pm wanting a cuddle!

Tim · 20/06/2015 at 00:48

I don’t think you have any reason to feel guilty. You’ve done so much with your blog since the start of the year, that it’s all just investing in the future. I’m enjoying BML immensely, and that’s as someone who is paying his own way and isn’t overly concerned about building his blog as a business. I’m just enjoying the social aspect of meeting so many like-minded people and hoping that I learn just one or two tips from the two days.

Great to meet you earlier – hopefully we’ll have time for a proper chat tomorrow.

    Vicky Charles · 21/06/2015 at 07:43

    Thanks Tim, it’s a shame we didn’t get a chance for a proper chat. Maybe at Blog On Win later this year!

Thismummylark · 20/06/2015 at 10:54

Parents want the best for their children and there will always be something else you can buy for your child but like you said she has eveything she needs she doesnt go without. Your entitled to a treat too and a tablet is something tour going to use so it’s not dead money. Enjoy your time there.

    Vicky Charles · 21/06/2015 at 07:42

    Thank you, it certainly came in useful over the weekend.

Antonio · 20/06/2015 at 14:08

I think it is very natural to feel a little guilty when we spend for ourselves. But if your children wants for nothing I say do it! And I know it is leaving children. I am in the military and it pains me when I leave for deployments.

Ruth · 20/06/2015 at 14:41

I think I have the same reluctance to spend money on myself or on frivolous things, but we do deserve to buy things for ourselves as well. You’re not depriving your daughter of something she needs when she already has everything! Anyway, a tablet is a necessary investment for your blog and business, Si it’s completely justifiable. Visiting from the #WeekendBlogHop

    Vicky Charles · 21/06/2015 at 07:39

    Thank you Ruth, I think I feel better about it now I’m home!

John McQuay · 22/06/2015 at 07:58

I can see where you’re coming from, I firmly believe it’s part of being a Mother. My Wife is very much like you in the respect she doesn’t spend a lot on herself, and feels guilty when she does. I often have to explain that our children have everything they need; they both have good clothes and more toys than they know what to do with. You shouldn’t feel guilty for buying your tablet or taking your trip; your trip I would view as being an investment to your business, as would be the tablet even though you bought that with a voucher. Try not to be so hard on yourself. :-)

Rachel In Real Life · 22/06/2015 at 09:51

While your experiences with your ex have, no doubt, contributed to how you feel when you spend money on yourself, I also think it’s part and parcel of being a parent, it shows you care. Cheeky Chap also wants for nothing, despite us really struggling financially we are lucky in that we have a generous family and yet I still feel guilty the rare times I do spend money on myself and it was that feeling of guilt which pushed me to sell my Britmums Live ticket and hotel room.

    Vicky Charles · 22/06/2015 at 20:16

    Oh, Rachel! I’m so sorry you ended up selling your ticket. I hope you can overcome the guilt next year. I’m sure we both know, logically, that it wasn’t a bad thing to be spending on ourselves. We just need to work on making that voice a little louder, I guess. I agree though – it’s part of being a parent and shows you care. I tink the day we stop worrying about whether we’re doing it right is the day there is a problem!

Pen · 24/06/2015 at 23:28

I think that to be a mother is to feel guilty. It doesn’t matter whether you are single or not. I guess the only difference if you are in a supportive relationship is that your partner will tell you that it is good for you and your child to spend some time alone and song money on yourself. You are a great mum, you clearly work really hard and you deserve to spend a little bit of money on yourself occasionally. I know it is pointless saying this but try not to feel guilty.

    Vicky Charles · 26/06/2015 at 13:28

    Thank you, I think you’re right – to be a mother is to feel guilty!

Rosie · 26/06/2015 at 10:38

Don’t feel guilty, not only were you investing in your business but also S’s future. Part of that investment is ensuring you portray the right image professionally and attend events you need to. I’ve come to the conclusion that guilt is a most overrated emotion, although this doesn’t stop me feeling guilty, I can make a conscious effort not to pay attention to the guilt. Also just read an article in the Guardian about how daughters of working mums tend to have more successful careers and equal relationships.

    Vicky Charles · 26/06/2015 at 13:22

    Guilt is overrated – you’re so right!

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