Motherhood comes with strings attached. Things like sleepless nights, nappies, vomit and guilt. Lots of it.
A special kind of guilt I call Mumguilt.
Which instills itself as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, and continues right through your child’s growing-up years. Past babyhood, toddlerhood and adolescence. It’s just something we mums cannot let go of, however forward thinking and cool we might (or think we might) be.
Here’s what Mumguilt looks (and feels) like…
It starts from the time we are pregnant.
We feel TERRIBLE for having had that ONE glass of wine on that ONE special night (our wedding anniversary, nothing less), lest something abnormal happens to our unborn baby. Not to mention that was the ONLY glass of wine we had in NINE MONTHS. This alcohol-related guilt continues while we breastfeed. We feel like the worst mums ever if we dare drink another glass during the six weeks or twelve months we breastfeed our babies.
Then there’s the Mumguilt when giving birth. We feel AWFUL if we cannot – for some medical reason that is not in our power to control – give birth naturally.
C-secs are just another outlet for getting that precious being out into the world, so mums, it’s not a sin. Or a ‘bad start’.
After which comes one of the biggest Mumguilts – bottle-feeding. Whether by choice or circumstance. If we choose not to/ cannot breastfeed our baby, we are seen as ‘taking the easy way out’ or plain lazy.
And are made to feel like failures. Sure, breast is best but hey, formula is no poison. It’s just as good. The important thing is your baby is fed!
Mumguilt casts its heavy shadow over us every day we look after our little ones. We feel GUILTY if we don’t take them to playgroups/ baby swimming classes/ the park, just because we are too damn tired to set foot outside the house.
If we let them watch television the entire afternoon just because we want to lie-down/ clean the house/ blog/ not read aloud another Peppa Pig.
If we give them fish fingers and fries from the freezer instead of a nutritious home-cooked meal, because we are too exhausted to cook…
The list goes on.
Then comes another massive Mumguilt – going back to work.
Or being a stay-at-home-mum.
Either way, we feel the Mumguilt. How can I leave my child with a complete stranger? I won’t be there when he takes his first steps. I’m giving my career more importance than my baby…
We feel guilty for not going to work and contributing to our family’s finances.
First day – ok I won’t lie – first month or more at daycare. One of the worst Mumguilts in my opinion.
Leaving our howling, helpless babies and not going back in to give them just one more cuddle as they desperately reach out to us. Because we have no choice. Because we have to. Because they’ve got to learn to be independent.
Yelling at our kids. Another gut-wrenching Mumguilt. Whether its their fault or not. But we’re only human.
We’ve not had more than five hours of sleep since forever. We’re PMS-ing. We’ve got shitloads of work to get done before bedtime and toddler is throwing a massive tantrum.
Though there are times when we yell at our kids just because it all gets too much to handle. And we can’t (always) yell at the husband or the piles of dishes and laundry.
And we’re just exhausted and need a break. That Mumguilt really punches us hard, because that biscuit on the floor wasn’t the real reason we snapped.
What’s your Mumguilt? And how do you deal with it?
I only ask because dealing with it, by which I guess I mean accepting it, is surely the only solution.
For as far as I can make out, Mumguilt is here for the long haul.