Since becoming a mum I don’t think I’ve gone a day without feeling guilty about something and getting rid of the mummy guilt has seemed impossible. My guilty feelings have got worse now that my daughters days of being an only child are numbered. Due to this I have done a bit of self reflection to try and stop feeling guilty and I have decided to share my thought journey with you all.
What is mummy guilt? (or parental guilt as I am sure all parents feel like this at some point)
Mummy guilt is hard to explain but if you know, you just know! The feeling sometimes that there isn’t enough hours in the day to be a good mum, wife, friend, sister and regularily feeling like you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Some examples of why I have felt guilty lately:
- Not playing with my child enough.
- Playing with my child too much and now the house is a mess.
- Not working enough and not having any money.
- Working too much and having to leave her in nursery.
- Not breastfeeding long enough.
- Making her brush her hair and traumatising her.
- Not brushing her hair and leaving her looking like the child of worzal gummidge.
- Not doing enough educational activities.
- Not getting out in the fresh air enough.
- Not taking her swimming.
- Not having enough time as an only child.
- Not feeding her 5 portions a day of fruit and veggies (or even 1 a day sometimes!)
These are just a few examples and there are plenty more where they came from.
Why do we feel this mummy guilt?
I asked myself today who was asking me to be a perfect mum. My 19 month old isn’t asking for home cooked food from scratch every night and daily educational activities from Pinterest.
My daughters favourite thing to do right now is cuddling up on the sofa reading a book together, or anything that we can do together makes her happy. So why am I being so hard on myself?
I did a bit of research on the topic of guilt and there are a lot of differing opinions out there but one psychotherapist, Peter Breggin, resonated with me. His 2015 theory on social cooperation and guilt is that we evolved guilt as a way to stop families from destroying each other (now that I can relate to!) and as a way of protecting our relationships.
If we feel guilty when we harm one another we are less likely to do it again; explains why I feel terribly guilty if I ever shout at my daughter as I worry that I have harmed her in some way. So if guilt is an evolved part of my behaviour there doesn’t seem to be a way to stop me from feeling it.
Why I’ve now chosen to embrace the mummy guilt.
I’ve come to the conclusion that mummy guilt is just nature’s way of protecting our relationships with our children and to not bring them harm. So I have now decided to cease trying to stop these guilty feelings as I know guilt and I will be walking hand in hand on this mothering journey every step of the way.
I feel guilty because I care. Guilt comes from the love I have for my daughter and how I care about her upbringing and wellbeing.
From now on I am going to accept that I am not perfect and as a bonus in doing so I will be teaching my daughter that it is okay not to be perfect too.
It is time that we change mummy guilt into mummy pride! We need to concentrate on everything that we DO for our children, rather than what we don’t. I am so proud of everything that I do for my daughter and my bump, so I am going to concentrate on what I can and do give them.
We need to ignore outside pressures of what we should be doing as mummy’s and stop judging ourselves. I am looking forward to starting tomorrow with a new fresh mind set to embrace the mummy pride.
If my children are happy and I am doing the very best I can – that’s all that truly matters.