My daughter isn’t sleeping so well at the moment, and I feel guilty. My son has been clingy since I was in hospital at Christmas, and I feel guilty. Welcome to motherhood; a one way ticket to Guilt Central.
Yes it comes from a lot of outside sources, but often self-inflicted as well, why do we put this continuous guilt on ourselves and each other? So it may not be that simple, but hear me out. Just yesterday I was claiming guilt for an upcoming weekend away, thinking now was not the time to leave the little ones. Yet I need it, I need that me time so much. And surely, within reason, a happy mama is a happy family?
Arguably the most prominent part of guilt attached to motherhood is when it comes to juggling a career alongside. Although, I’m not sure I’m keen on the term ‘juggle’ when associated with work. Yes, it’s an ongoing struggle to get school shoes sorted and meet a deadline, but talking of throwing balls around implies we are likely to drop one.
The way I see it is motherhood comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether we stay at home, work from home or work 12 hours a day, each struggle is completely different. Just as each experience of motherhood varies. Constantly doing our best, there is no-one better than ourselves to keep that mantra going as an internal dialogue. We’re the ones who conjure up this guilt, albeit with a lot of help from societal / financial/ general pressure, so we have to also be responsible for pushing it aside.
Equally, I feel the need to embrace honesty. I can’t be bothered with a competition to have it all in terms of motherhood and our careers, because success is a personal story. The same way co-sleeping, setting boundaries, feeding plans and all the other parenting differences have to be without any form of judgement. I’ve talked about finding my mama tribe before, and this is vital. If we put our hands up and claim the guilt we feel, it somehow makes it seem less rational and hopefully enables us to ditch it. By empowering each other, we can remove that niggle and share our own motherhood stories.
I’m stepping back from worry and accepting that while I can somehow mother my children back to sound sleeping patterns and feeling secure again, these issues are not my fault. Let’s put the guilt down, and walk away.