Why it’s so important to forgive yourself as a mother!
by Amy Rose Gould
When I was pregnant in 2016, I was beyond excited to meet my baby
I’d say around 90% of my thoughts revolved around this tiny person moving around in my belly, and as my due date came closer (and then passed), I felt in a constant state of expectation. When Isobel finally arrived after a long labour and a lot of coaxing, I felt a bit shell-shocked. I’d had a tough labour with some complications which made the whole thing feel pretty traumatic in the end. And although I was surrounded by amazing midwives and doctors who went above and beyond, on the inside I was freaking out.
The excitement I had felt for those long months now felt more like a deep unease. Of course, I felt physically exhausted after the labour but I came to realise that what I didn’t have was an overwhelming feeling of love for this tiny new person in my life. In fact, I didn’t feel anything like that.
I’d watch my partner hold our baby with love heart eyes, I’d nod and smile as our families cooed over her when they came to visit, but when I stared at this tiny person in my arms I felt…..nothing. Every time I fed or changed her I felt like I was looking after someone else’s child. I cuddled and kissed her all the time, hoping this would somehow kickstart that motherly feeling I was surely meant to have by now. But….nothing.
It took 5 months for me to feel the beginnings of affection for Isobel
I know a lot of women have felt the way I did and many for a lot longer, and even though the logical part of my brain knew that, the emotional side felt extraordinarily guilty. Isobel is 2.5 now and I love her more than anything – she is quite simply the best. But whenever I think back to how I felt in those first few months of her life, those pangs of guilt and shame are still there.
I didn’t realise how much this guilt was affecting me until I had a call with my business coach a few months ago. We were talking about all the actions I wasn’t taking to grow and move forward and when my coach asked me why I couldn’t think of an answer. I had that weird feeling of nothing in my head again, and I couldn’t articulate anything more than ‘I don’t feel good enough to succeed’. Like any good coach though, she didn’t leave it there. She asked the same question in different ways, giving me time to think, to try and uncover whatever block I had that was holding me back. And then suddenly I heard myself say the words ‘I’m not good enough because I didn’t love Izzy when she was born’…..and that was it. Floodgates officially open.
And it wasn’t a slow little teardrop rolling down my cheek either. It was full-on sobbing. Even as I’m writing this now I feel a bit choked up just thinking about it. I had finally identified this huge thing that was stalling the progress of my business, but instead of it being some kind of tech issue or fear of being visible (which I assumed it would be), it was because I had never forgiven myself for not loving my daughter when she was born. And because I didn’t immediately love her, I wasn’t a good mother. And that meant I didn’t deserve success. Why on earth that would affect my business I’ll never know, but there it was, out in the open.
Once I had my sobbing under control, my coach asked me to write a letter to myself – a letter of forgiveness
I had to forgive myself for feeling a perfectly understandable way. For feeling a way that was shared by many women. I had to forgive myself for something that I had no control over. It’s still a work in progress, but I know that one day I’ll get there. And since I had that conversation, I’ve made more progress in my business than I thought possible.
I now write in my gratitude journal every day. I set an intention for the day and I write three things that I’m thankful for. Isobel is a huge driver for me – I want to succeed for myself but also for her. For her to have the things I didn’t have as a child, and to see that she can achieve anything.
As a mother, especially one who is career-driven or who runs a business, it’s a battle not to feel guilty. Guilt for putting our children in nursery or after school clubs. Guilt when we play with our children but our minds are elsewhere – on the emails we haven’t responded to, or the sales we ‘should’ make. It’s easy to say that feeling guilty is a waste of time, but when you feel that way, what can you actually do about it?
I’d encourage you to start by spending some time figuring out what is at the root of this guilty feeling. This may not come to you straight away and as this post shows, it may require persistence. Once you’ve truly uncovered the root cause, try to:
- Write a letter of forgiveness to yourself. Write from a place of love – no negative language – Be kind to yourself. You’re a mother – it’s one of the hardest things in the world – Accept that no-one is perfect. There’s just no such thing!
- Write down 5 positive things you do every day as a mother (I put food on the table…..I tuck my child into bed….I read a book every night….I love my child)
I wish you the very best on your journey of self-forgiveness.