What is ‘mum guilt’?
The horrible feeling of shame and regret over certain things you did/didn’t do as a parent. Many mums go through it at some point during their parenting journey, and it is such a shame that such a wonderful period of our lives becomes tainted by such negative feelings.
I’m two years down the line now, having battled horrendous PND, self-loathing and harsh criticism of myself as a parent, and I can FINALLY look back and reflect on those things I regretted with a more relaxed & satisfied perspective. I’m over my mum guilt, and I hope my reflection helps other mummies to let go of the negatives, and focus on the beauty of being a mama.
Our breastfeeding journey went very wrong, very quickly. We were given multiple misdiagnoses, misleading advice, and by the time we got a correct diagnosis that would have meant we could have continued breastfeeding with a few changes so that Max wouldn’t have been poorly, it was too late! Relactation was a non-starter for me, so we continued with formula and were put on Nutramigen and then Neocate. I was SO angry for a very long time as I am passionate about promoting and encouraging breastfeeding, I yearned for that closeness and to be part of the ‘boob crew’, it felt so natural and right to me, and it still does. I felt immense guilt for not giving my son my milk for as long as I’d planned.
If I have another allergy baby, at least next time I am equipped with the facts. BUT, I no longer feel enraged or heartbroken. Max is the happiest, healthiest kid ever, hitting his milestones and measuring off the centile charts in height. He was fed, nourished, nurtured, loved, and still is, so how could I resent that? Plus, he got my colostrum and at least some milk from me, which for me is a consolation. I’m over the guilt. Regret still lingers, but I don’t feel guilty for having a son who is as healthy as a horse now!
Post Natal Depression
Ok, it is pretty irrational to feel guilt over something that I had ZERO control over. However, I felt mortified by the moments where I snapped at Max for minor things, didn’t feel like playing with him, in fact felt ANY negative feeling towards my gorgeous & perfect son during the times where the grey fog of PND was overpowering.
Now… now I realise that there is no point in dwelling on it. All we can do is move forward. I am back to myself, and my bond with Max is thankfully not affected. The love we share is indescribable, and my mothering instinct has definitely made up for lost time! Jeez, I feel teary even writing this blog. I hope that other mummies struggling read this and realise that they WILL feel better one day!
The escape incidents…
I sobbed with guilt when Max managed to sneak out of our back garden and was found running around the front garden by the neighbour – bad mum alert, nee nor, nee nor!
Seriously though, I spent weeks in terror waiting for Social Services to bang the door down. What a crap mother I must be, I thought, ignoring the fact that the frame of the gate had contracted without me realising, meaning the lock didn’t fit properly anymore – not my fault, I didn’t realise, and it took me taking my eyes off him for 10 measly seconds.
However, I know that it can happen to anyone. I was the master of all escape artistry as a child, and that doesn’t make my parents bad parents. Max just happens to take after his mum… By doing something to remedy the escape promptly and learning from my mistakes, I was actually a GOOD parent. The gate was barricaded, and Max can now play safely without happily lolloping off down the street like a wild bear freed from a zoo… I am over the guilt, because I know I have done everything in my power to prevent any more potential danger!
Going out with friends sans child…
Oh lord, the guilt I felt! How dare I go out for cocktails and fine dining without my hyperactive, noisy, demanding toddler in tow?! I should have taken him with me, sod the posh restaurants, right? I’d text my partner or mum every few minutes for an update. I’d panic that he hadn’t had enough dinner. I would feel too stressed to enjoy the night…
…until I realised that my partner or mum absolutely had it under control, that Max was having an amazing time and didn’t need me hovering over him 24/7, and I realised that going out for a few hours was doing me the power of good, mentally and physically. PARENTS NEED ALONE TIME TOO. It isn’t neglectful to need a breather and maintain your social life, not that I do it very often, but it is vital for my well being and hey, no more guilt here.
So there you have it – my mum guilt, and how I got over it. I have no doubt that as I grow as a parent, more things will materialise that will trigger yet MORE mum guilt, but as I learn from my mistakes, and watch my son flourish, I know that I’ll get over that, too.
What things do YOU feel mum guilt over? Share your experiences with me in the comments.
Love from Katie. Xx