Mum guilt; that feeling you get right down in your chest, pulling at your heartstrings and drowning you with thoughts that you’re not doing enough. The little voice you get in your head convincing you that you’re doing it all wrong and you’re going to well and truly mess up your kids.
We’ve all had it at some point, and I’m sure most of us know deep down that these thoughts really aren’t productive, and we are all doing our best for our little loves. So why do we get these feelings rushing over us like a wave of emotion? Why can’t we just realise we are amazing, strong, kick ass Mamas who love their kids to the end of the earth and are doing everything in our power to raise them right? As mothers we are perfectly designed to care for, nurture and keep our babies safe, so why on earth can’t we just accept ourselves for what we are and for what we do?
Because we are only human, that’s why.
Humans who strive to be the best for our children. And is there really anything wrong with that?
One minute you can feel like you’re nailing this motherhood malarkey, then the next feel guilty for the smallest of things.
I’ve experienced mum guilt a lot over these past couple of years, and I know that 95% of my feelings are uncalled for. If a friend was feeling the same I would be the first person to comfort them and tell them that although I can empathise, they are more than enough. As the saying goes, easier said than done, and although I’m happy to dish out advice (never unsolicited might I add) I sometimes struggle following that advice I give. I deal well with these thoughts at large, they are merely moments of weakness, but they are still very much present in my life.
It doesn’t tend to be monetary or lack of material things I feel guilty about. I’m more than happy for the twins to play with Immy’s old toys, and gladly accept hand me down clothes for my children. Wilf is known to rock a pink floral baby grow and it doesn’t bother me at all. There’s nothing wrong with buying lots of clothes for your kids at all, that’s not what I’m saying here. We are all different and choose to spend our money on different things. It’s just personally I choose to spend mine on experiences over new clothing. That goes for myself too – I’m still kicking about in t-shirts and jumpers I’ve had since 2010! The feelings of guilt I get tend to stem more from feeling that I don’t have enough time and can’t logistically provide them with the experiences I want to.
These feelings started when Immy was born but happened rarely and have developed over time. I’m sure they will go on for the rest of their lives too, although those feelings of guilt will no doubt morph into feelings of worry. One thing that all mothers of older children and adults tell me is that when you become a mother, you will always worry about your children until your dying day.
With Immy I didn’t feel mum guilt too frequently in the first instance, I think because everything revolved around her. Yes I questioned myself if I was doing things right, as I had no idea what I was doing as a first time mum, but I didn’t get that guilty feeling too much. Those feelings started when I found out I was pregnant with the twins and I started to feel like Immy would be missing out as I wouldn’t be able to give her as much attention as I had been. I still think that sometimes but the future of love and friendship we have created for them far outweighs that.
The mum guilt I get with Immy now can be anything from feeling guilty that I don’t have the time to teach her things (some of her friends are learning phonics and writing) to raising my voice when she misbehaves. I look at other mums and they seem so calm with their children, when most days I feel like I’m losing it. I know this isn’t the case, and that other mums shout too, but when you’re in the moment you can feel like the worst mum in the world.
When I went back to work after my maternity leave with Immy I also felt guilty that I wasn’t spending enough time with her, even though some days she brought me to my knees. But then on the flip side when I took her out of nursery during this maternity leave I felt mum guilt that she wasn’t there socialising and learning. It sometimes feels like it’s a losing battle being a mum.
When the twins were born I felt mum guilt for Immy now having to walk everywhere when I had them alone, as we only had a twin pushchair. She was old enough to walk but her little legs would tire quickly. She had a buggy board but the novelty of that soon wore off so you would often see my carrying her in one arm and pushing the double pushchair in the other.
Nowadays my guilt stems from the feeling that I’m not doing enough for them individually. I get time alone with Immy, as does Ross, as we feel it’s important. We don’t however get time with each twin individually, apart from the stint when Tabby was in hospital for her Hydrocephalus. I also feel guilty that the twins can’t have swimming lessons like Immy did when she was a baby, because you have to have one adult per baby and we are outnumbered. This might seem silly to some people, and I realise that in the grand scheme of things it’s a very little thing, but for me I want everything to be fair and for them all to have the same experiences. I don’t ever want the twins to feel like they are missing out because they are twins.
The one thing I feel really guilty about is wanting more “me time.” Being a parent is such hard work it is so important to take time to yourself and refresh. Ross and I rarely get to do that at the moment as it’s full on with the three of them at the ages they’re at, and we don’t live near our families. Some days I crave time to myself, and then feel guilty for not wanting to be with my babies. Although we feel overwhelmed right now, I still think back to the fact that everything is just a passing moment in time, and soon we will get that time to ourselves again (and no doubt want to turn back time).
I feel a lot of mum guilt stems from us comparing ourselves to other parents online. Social media is an amazing platform and I enjoy sharing my journey with like minded mums. However, something I often need to remind myself is that it’s not all 100% true all of the time. We only see a portion of someone’s life online, and it’s usually the good stuff. Behind every seemingly perfect mama online there is no doubt a normal woman, questioning herself and her mothering just like the rest of us.
In all honesty, all that really matters in this crazy world we call parenting is that our children are happy, healthy, safe and know that they are loved. And the one thing I do know that I’ve got right in this matrix of motherhood is that my babies feel loved.
Have you ever felt mum guilt and what do you do to try and curb those thoughts? Let me know in the comments.