When they are little, you can easily fix the physical hurts. Well, mostly, anyway. As they grow, however, heartbreak and angst are things that aren’t so easily cured by mummy kissing it better and applying a bandaid.
It breaks your heart that you can’t take their pain away because you gladly would.
And the guilt. Let’s talk about the guilt. If you’ve ever been a less than stellar parent in your life (and I think most of us, if we are honest, would cop to that one), then you worry and wonder if something you’ve done has led to a bad outcome for your child. This is without your child directly accusing you of said linear cause, mind you, either in some standard toddler or adolescent way either because they see it as simple cause or effect or because the teenage mind is designed to make you suffer! This is self-reproach guilt and there is plenty of it around and plenty of hindsight and wishing you could time travel and go back and change things around.
Now imagine if you are a parent who has done some majorly fucked up things in your life. Not necessarily to your children and nothing that is particularly out of the ordinary but your actions were dramatic and they have had repercussions in their lives.
Cue some years down the track and you look severe problems in your children’s lives and you wonder: “Did I do this to my much loved child? Did I damage her by doing what I did?” and the guilt?
Oh, my friends, the guilt it is crippling.