Today is Mother’s Day in the UK, the perfect opportunity to expound on a Mama’s number 1 enemy, no not alcohol…guilt.
I defy you to find a mother who does not feel guilt at some point, if not all the time. I would also go as far as to add that those who were immune to guilt pre-children are now also racked with it, at times, or all the time. If, like me, you were predisposed to guilt before children then I send my deepest sympathies. Not satisfied with carrying the guilt for our own actions we also feel guilty for other’s and waste precious living time worrying and feeling guilty about how our actions may affect others, even those we don’t know. Exhausting. Add to that kids and phew it’s a minefield and unfortunately like regret, guilt is one of those negative emotions that festers and lingers and doesn’t feel easier to handle with time like say, anger or horror.
Maybe you feel guilty because,
- You don’t spend enough time with your children
- You spend too much time with your children and you fight
- You work
- You don’t perform well enough/spend enough time at work
- You are too distracted by work when you are with your children
- You wish you worked to get away from your children
- You deny them foods that are bad for them
- You’re creating future eating disorders by denying them foods that are bad for them
- You feed them junk
- You’re creating future eating disorders by feeding them junk
- You are not a good role model -
- You don’t take care of yourself/are overweight/always dieting/lazy/have a bad attitude etc etc….
- You are better looking/smarter/more successful than your child (how can they possibly compete!)
- You are too strict
- You’re not strict enough
- You let them watch too much TV (play too many computer games)
- You’ve banned TV (and computer games, smartphones and tablets) and maybe you’re holding them back
- You argued/swore/lost your temper in front of your children
- You’re not teaching your children a 2nd language/tennis/skiing/how to hold a knife and fork
- You didn’t sleep train
- You did sleep train
- You didn’t breastfeed
- You had a c section
- You resent your stretch marks/inability to sneeze without peeing/droopy boobs that pregnancy left you with
- You had them too early in your life so resent your lost youth
- You had them too late in your life so you are too tired now
- You give them antibiotics when they are sick
- You don’t give them antibiotics when they are sick
- You did/didn’t immunise
- You have a bad habit that might affect your children
- You can’t afford for them to go to the best school/club/university/holiday
- You spoil them with too many privileges
- You don’t appreciate your children enough
- You are too clingy and reliant on your children for your own happiness
- You don’t live with their father
- You do live with their father but you hate him
- You gave them advice you don’t know was entirely right
- You kept something from them/revealed too much
You get the picture and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
End of the day there will be times (constantly?) that you will feel guilty no matter what because you are a mother and for every mother who feels guilty for doing it one way, there is a mother who feels guilty for doing it precisely the other. Time to remind ourselves what we know we should do: Don’t focus on the bad bits; don’t set the bar too high and; rid yourself of the nagging thoughts that everyone else is doing it better. They’re not.
Today even if it’s not your official Mother’s Day let’s give ourselves a break, even for a few hours. Let’s dwell on the positives and applaud our achievements, as the queen of the quote Oprah once said, ‘Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment’. If we’re all doing our best we shouldn’t feel guilty right? Happy Mother’s Day.
Is it worth pointing out that I already feel guilty about this post because it didn’t include fathers or those who don’t have children AND the guilt that it might in some way say I don’t appreciate the positives of motherhood. You see, it never stops.