Mum Guilt begins (I think) during pregnancy. It did for me anyway. I felt guilty for not taking pregnancy supplements. I felt guilty for not eating enough fish, for constantly forgetting my folic acid, for eating too much sugar, and for not being active enough.
Then there was labour, and guilt for not being able to bring her into the world all by myself. I felt guilty that I couldn’t take care of her physically and that we didn’t have skin to skin.
I hear stories of Mum Guilt all of the time: Child fell down the stairs, didn’t want to sleep in their own bed, swallowed detergent, had a bad day at pre-school. Stories of mums being told they’re not liked by their kids. As mums we often feel the need to take the blame for just about everything. Our children are our responsibility sure, but feeling and carrying guilt is pointless and sometimes a little stupid.
Here are just a sample of things I’ve felt guilty about recently:
- Constantly rushing my toddler
- Sometimes forgetting I have a second baby… Then remembering but forgetting her name
- Raising my voice
- Crying after a bad day
- Missing my old life
- Viewing work as a break
- Not having the energy to play non-stop all day, 365 days a year
- Giving my toddler too many treats
- Not giving my toddler any treats
- The baby crawling around our dirty kitchen floor
- Not cleaning the bathroom as often as I should
- Not loving them as much as I think I should
- Craving adult company
- Wishing the day away
I don’t feel these things every day but I’ve spent a lot of my motherhood feeling guilt. And it’s a killer!
All of the things we feel guilty about are either out of our control or a mistake. Feeling guilty about them not only makes them seem worse than they were, but it keeps the event right with us today, even though it may have happened weeks, months or years ago.
If we’re feeling guilty about anything we simply cannot be loving. Guilt is selfish, it is never about our children, it is only ever about us. The things we feel guilty about our kids have absolutely no idea of, nor care about. My toddler doesn’t know that I ‘failed’ during labour, she doesn’t know how I feel about work and she doesn’t need to. Right now, all she needs to know is that I love her. I know for a fact that children would never want us to feel guilty because as soon as we do, we’re pretty grumpy and completely unavailable; when we feel guilty we are not focused on them, which is about all they do care about.
Guilt keeps us trapped. If we feel guilty then we are focusing on something bad and when we do that it’s very hard for us to shake it off and think of the good things that we do. Of which there are many! I am not a bad mum, neither are you. We are always doing our best.
So next time we feel guilty, let’s be honest and remember that guilt is about us and only us. Let’s not spend one more minute in the past (which we cannot change) but focus on the moment we are in right now. Let’s remember that we must let go of the guilt to be better mummies, feeling guilty only hinders us. Let’s spend more time focusing on all the good things we do, all the grateful feelings we have. Let’s put a stop to feeling guilty. Right now. Are you with me?