The Dreaded Mum Guilt
They tell you about all the feelings you might have when you become a mother. The overwhelming love, the sense of responsibility for a whole actual human’s well being, the joy, the pride at their achievements, exhaustion, the baby blues…all the feels. But what no one warned me about was the guilt. The absolutely consuming, soul destroying mum guilt which continues throughout your babe’s life.
This starts showing its face when you’re pregnant.
I was hugely sick when pregnant with Martha, (I mean vomiting out of my nose in a meeting sick, having to open the car door in a traffic jam and vom in the road sick, vomming in a carrier bag in Waitrose sick,) and I struggled to keep anything down. I was reading all the books about how to nourish my babe but all I could eat were crumpets and the odd Filet-o-Fish from McDonalds. I felt awful about it, knowing from the huge stack of books by the bed what I could do to help her grow perfectly but not actually doing any of it.
Dreaded Mum Guilt
I felt guilty breastfeeding because no one else could feed her. I felt guilty trying to get her to take a bottle of expressed milk she clearly didn’t want.
I felt guilty when I first left her for a break and just walked around the supermarket for fifteen minutes, (this relaxing episode abruptly ended when a random baby cried, my boobs leaked, I cried and had to scuttle off home.)
I felt guilty for wanting someone to take her away for an hour so I could just have a sleep, a shower or a wee without a baby stuck to my boob.
I felt guilty switching from homemade baby food to Ella’s Kitchen pouches to save time.
I felt guilty going back to work when she was one.
I felt guilty getting pregnant again so soon after having Martha, thinking she would be missing out.
I felt guilty when Sid was born that he was missing out on all the one to one time Martha had with me.
I felt guilty when I made the decision to end the relationship with their Dad, depriving them of a ‘normal’ upbringing.
I felt guilty in the early days of having a new babe and a toddler on my own, tag teaming between them bedtime and having Martha fall asleep at my feet while I was feeding Sid.
I felt guilty sending them to nursery.
I felt guilty wanting to go out and have time without them.
I felt guilty using babysitters and friends to help when I went to work or needed to do something without them. I still feel guilty now, working from home during school holidays so we can be together, trying to juggle my workload and being fun.
I felt guilty that they couldn’t have all the opportunities that I had wanted them to have because I couldn’t afford it as a single mum.
I felt guilty wanting to date.
I felt guilty becoming the shouty mum I had promised myself I would never become.
I could go on and on…I feel guilty writing this now, having plonked them in front of the telly so I can finish this.
Being a mum is exhausting and relentless…
…with endless pressure to be like the mums who seem to be able to do it all in our feeds.
But that’s not real life.
Even the most together mums will have been on their knees in bits at some point because their babes won’t sleep/will only sleep on them/are struggling to breastfeed/won’t eat anything but beige food/regularly say they hate them/ have weed on the carpet/have thrown a wobbly in public.
Even the mum with the incredible highlighter and perfect brows at the school gate will have lost her shit at some point. Probably at least once already today. Most likely twice. And it’s ok to do that! It’s ok to not like your children sometimes. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love them, it just means that after you’ve asked them to put their shoes on for the millionth time and they’ve ignored you, you think they’re a bit of a dick.
You’re not a bad mum, you’re an actual human being.
Be kind to yourself. Talk to people. Go to groups. Let people in and most of all be honest. Then you’ll see that it’s not just you and the guilt will slowly start easing. It won’t completely disappear because it comes with the job I’m afraid, but the more we talk about things the less terrifying they are and you’ll see that you’re not alone. They say that it takes a village to raise a child and that’s not just for your babes, it’s for you. You can’t pour from an empty cup so fill yours with the good stuff.
I’m currently training to run for the London marathon in April, if you would like to find out more about why I have chosen to support raising money for Brain Tumour Research then have a look at this link.