22 Mar Mother’s Guilt- Don’t Waste Your Precious Time
The past six months has been a bit of a whirlwind. Starting a new business is never easy but when you throw a 2 and 4 year old into the mix it definitely brings up a lot of extra challenges. Managing it all is a challenge and I take my hat off to anyone who has everything under control, or is even trying to. I have always wondered how working mums juggle everything and I have definitely been dropping balls all over the place. The other day my four year old said “mum can you help me make one of the really big LEGO castles. You always used to help me make the big ones”. A pang of guilt came over me, so with a list of things to do as long as my arm, I sat down and played LEGO with my four year old and built the best damn Lego world I could.
The reality is that we all seem to feel mother’s guilt. Working mums feel guilty for not spending enough time with their children, stay at home mums feel guilty for not contributing enough (even though it can be the toughest job in the world). We feel guilty if we bottle feed, if we co-sleep, if we rock our baby to sleep and the list goes on and on. So my thoughts after having the dreaded guilt’s as a stay at home mum and a working mum is that focusing too much on it is a waste of my valuable time.
I read an article on mums in business the other day, that’s what I do now, who is this person? Anyway this one mum said “mother’s guilt, I don’t have time for that” It really got me thinking, neither do I. I think it serves a purpose and if you are not doing the right thing by your children then you should have mother’s guilt, but if you are putting your children first and doing the best you can with your situation then you need to go easy on yourself. A little bit of guilt is only natural and means that you want what is best for your family but if you focus on it too much it will only bring you down.
I don’t know why we all assume we are going to be the perfect mother. We all have our faults and why these are supposed to miraculously disappear the moment we become a mum is silly. Patience has never been my virtue so I don’t know why I would assume I would have unlimited patience for little humans, who can be very frustrating. However occasionally I can surprise myself with just how patient I can now be.
I believe these feelings of guilt come down to our own expectations and our actual reality. So where are these crazy expectations coming from? I feel like social media really exacerbates this need to be the perfect mum. We see all those perfect motherly moments people are having and of course you are having those too BUT not every second of every day. I think that is why the people who keep it real or post those funny pictures of “real motherhood” are so refreshing. You know the ones, the kid is bawling and having an absolute meltdown because the white towel is not white enough. I love this stuff because it shows the not so perfect side of life. So I am going to throw it out there and say that sometimes, just sometimes, being a mum can really suck… yes I said it. This does not mean I do not love my children to bits, in fact I think they are the best little humans in the world, but sometimes being a mum does suck. I don’t know a mum in the world who can watch their two year old throwing an absolute head banging wobbly in the grocery store and turn and say “ I just love every moment I spend with my little darling”. No! at these times it can be the hardest job in the world and we shouldn’t feel guilty for occasionally not enjoying every moment of the ride. Some days are tedious and boring and if you were not bored playing diggers or barbies every day then you would be a verily easily amused adult and probably a bit dull. Keep it real and when you feel guilty for having one of those days where you are bored or frustrated or just epically failing, let it go and know tomorrow is a new day. This stuff doesn’t make you a bad mum it just makes you human. If you feel like you may have been a bit grumpy or over the top then own it. Tell your children sorry that mum was a bit grumpy today and tell them you love them.
I think it is all about intention, if your intention is good and you are doing the best you can then be happy with it. No one is the perfect mum, even Martha Stewart didn’t have it all together. All you can do is your best with the situation you are in. Love your children, tell them you love them, and cuddle them daily. Find something nice to say to them every day, hard on the bad days I know. Make the time you do have with them as special and fun as you can. This doesn’t mean unlimited activities. Sitting on the floor and building a LEGO castle can be just as enjoyable for kids as a trip anywhere. I believe it is about giving them your full attention and enjoying them, and if at that point in time you are not enjoying them that is totally ok too. Remember guilt is a wasted emotion if it is not necessary.
It is important to remember that sometimes it is ok to put yourself first and do something just for you. Enjoy your work. Enjoy not working. Just enjoy yourself. Heaven forbid you enjoy doing something without the children, what a terrible mum. Remember you are still a person in your own right you are not just mum. If time out makes you come back and love your children that little bit more then it can’t be all that bad. When you’re a happy mum you’re a better mum.
Travelling the world has really shown me the importance of family and that the key to happiness is found through growing up with love and support not material things (cringing at how cliché this sounds). But honestly I believe if you create a loving supportive environment your child will not be left wanting. So my advice is this: Life is short and you only get one shot so make sure you create your own story and enjoy the ride. Give up on being the perfect mum and instead aim to be a happy loving one.