This morning (or maybe last night) I woke up at 4.03am. Next to me, was #1 and next to her, #2. It is rare that they both sleep in my bed but last night was my lucky night clearly. The reason for waking? #3 was singing (humming) Twinkle Twinkle and shouting ‘ah there’s the baby’ at the top of her voice. I quickly dispersed of the bigger two back into their own beds, and brought the demonic toddler into my bed. There we lay, not sleeping, playing our delightful game of ‘lets lie this way, no lets lie on mummy, no lets sook Jeffrey (he’s her teddy giraffe FYI) really loudly’, until I gave in at 5am and stuck nursery rhymes on YouTube for her and tried to doze. My alarm went off at 6am. I messaged my friends, in our group chat, at probably 6:03am and said ‘this is when I wish there was someone to tag in’. And I really meant it. At that point, I was so tired, that I just wished that there was someone there who could’ve helped at some point during last night. And then I felt guilty about it all day. Because actually, I am so together, and so sure of who I am that to entertain a thought that I might need someone else, horrifies me. I thought that was the most guilty thing I would feel, well, guilty about today. But I was wrong.

It coincidently was also my first day at my new job today. I worked until 5.30pm tonight, looking after other peoples children. And then, when I went to collect #3 from nursery, at 5.34pm, she had fallen asleep on one of the girls knees reading a story, and the guilt really hit me. I managed to get her into the car, home, into the house, changed into her pajamas and into bed and she didn’t even stir. Which is what will happen if you get up at 4-bloody-am. But it does nothing to alleviate the guilt, that again, I am somehow failing them by working. So laying off myself really isn’t working, I’ll be honest.

And yet, I don’t feel like I’m making a big mess of things. And low and behold I feel guilty about that too. If I really think about it, I think i’m doing an alright job. I mean yes, I work a lot, #3 goes to nursery pretty much full time, we all eat take out pizza more than we should, and my house is a tip BUT we are happy, and healthy, and don’t want for much (except a good nights sleep). We do what we have to, to make sure our children are looked after, and also, to make sure we are looked after.

It’s not the kids fault I’m tired, well it is, but I can’t really be mad at them. Jut have to get on with it I suppose. It’s also not the kids fault that I need to go out and work, or that even worse, that I want to go out and work. It’s no ones fault for any of it really, it’s just life. So why the guilt? #3 will wake up tomorrow and won’t even remember that she fell asleep at nursery today, the other two are on their way home from their dads as I type and won’t even notice that I’ve worried abut them today.

I’m coming round to the belief that if i DIDN’T feel guilty, then that would be when there was an issue. If I just dumped the girls in childcare and sauntered off to work, and didn’t give it a second thought then that would probably make me less of a parent. Or if I wasn’t arsed about what I fed them, or the fact that I really really need to put my ironing away, then that would be a problem. But I do care, I do worry, and that’s ok. It’s just me holding my fort up, on limited sleep, and a hard as fuck training regime. There isn’t anyone to tag in at 4am, or lunchtime, or at 6pm to do bath time or bed time. Just me. So when the alarm goes off at 6am, after a horrible sleep, when I know I won’t sit down again until at least 6pm, then I think it’s ok to wonder if I’m doing things properly. I mean, I’m only human after all.

There is so much pressure on us, especially mums, maybe even single parents more, to do everything. And people are so judgmental. Oh you work? You must hate your kids. You don’t work? You’re lazy. You’re single? Talk about giving up on a relationship. You dare to go out at the weekends? God you must REALLY hate your kids.

People will judge. People will talk, and you will feel guilty. Every day. For something or another. It’s natural, it’s human. It’s how we know we are doing ok. Start to worry when you don’t feel like you’re messing up your kids or your life, or both. But until then? Go to bed early, tomorrow is a new day.