Oh boy! Mum guilt & self-doubt, at times, kicks my ass. It’s been a part of my life for a while now. I’d vaguely heard people speak of this before but not known its impact until I became pregnant.
Mum guilt/self-doubt.. the Witch won’t leave me alone.
To be honest, I’ve lived with self-doubt most of my life. But once I finally became pregnant it kicked up a notch, along with my new friend – mum guilt. I think of it as an invisible Witch, complete with a pointy hat and broom, that also starts to grow as your baby does. When I feel like I’m doing something right, she starts to cackle on my shoulder and reminds me of all the reasons why I’m, well… shit.
I felt guilty because…
- I wasn’t eating enough of the right foods, and therefore my child wasn’t getting all the nutrients it needed.
- I allowed myself to be convinced by friends that one glass of wine was perfectly fine.
- I forgot to take my folic acid two days on the run – my child may now come out with 3 arms and 12 toes.
- I just had to have that 2nd cup of coffee because getting through the day with one cup was just killing me.
- I didn’t love every moment. How dare I not be loving pregnancy when we were so lucky to even be pregnant in the first place.
- I was absolutely shitting my pants about becoming a mother. Self-doubt told me I just wasn’t going to be good enough.
- I thought I might not feel that instant love after giving birth. Turns out I had nothing to worry about on this front.
I mean, the list goes on well into motherhood…
- Maybe I didn’t try hard enough to breastfeed for longer.
- Do I cuddle my baby enough?
- Do I cuddle my baby too much?
- I didn’t stop that one person from kissing my baby on the cheek. Now she was probably going to end up in A&E after having contracted some fatal disease.
- Getting irritable and frustrated with my baby because she only slept for an hour all night.
- Hating (with a passion) cluster feeding.
- For allowing my amazing partner to do the morning feed so I can sleep in. After all, my baby needs me, I should be the one feeding her at all times and be bloody grateful for it.
Mum Guilt made me refused a lot of help I was offered because I had this overwhelming feeling that it had to be me. I had to be the one to do everything. Looking back, I struggled a lot unnecessarily. I also cried a lot. I often wonder if I suffered slightly from postnatal depression? But then hormones have a bloody lot to answer for, and thankfully they settled down after a few months. I now accept all the bloody help I can get!
A Necessary Evil
Mum Guilt affects everyone at some point and as a mother, I feel like it’s a part of who we are. As much as it can make you feel physically sick and cry for what seems like to the rest of the world no apparent reason but makes perfect sense to you. I honestly feel like it’s there for a reason. It’s the catch 22. A necessary evil.
The fact that we are worrying about so many things all at once every single day means we are doing this shit right. Right?
It’s what makes us drag our sorry carcasses out of the bed to feed our baby at 4 am after only having an hour’s sleep.
It’s what makes you dig your nose into her nappy because you caught a slight whiff of you don’t know what but don’t want to chance leaving her in an uncomfortably shitty nappy that’s bound to result in nappy rash.
And let’s be honest, it’s what stops us from leaving them, bundled up in a towel outside a hospital because you feel like you’re about to fall apart limb by limb from sheer exhaustion and you just need a day to put yourself together again before you take a wary step back on the never-ending merry go round.
Embracing Mum Guilt
I’ve decided I’m going to embrace my mum guilt (well, as much as such things can be embraced) and accept that it’s okay to feel guilty about doing the small things for ourselves, the things that actually stop us from going insane. After all, it’s what makes us who we are… the nurturing, stable, consistent, understanding, fun, patient parent our kids need us to be. The calm in the storm.
For more reads on being a mum, take a look at 8 Things I Never Thought I would Love about Motherhood & 15 Google Searches of a New Mum
Have you experienced mum guilt? I would love to hear about it in the comments.