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.