Defying All Logic
Ugh… Mum Guilt.
We all get it.
I am definitely a hardcore level Mum guilt sufferer. In fact, over the course of my 7 years of Motherhood I have accumulated a veritable library of causes. A bona fide arsenal of triggers to send me into a Mum Guilt spiral.
Sometimes, after a particularly sharp pang, I tell my husband, Pete, about whatever-it-is that’s set me off. By and large I am met with a sort of bemused, logical indifference.
For him, if I am trying my best and doing what I can, the guilt should not exist… And I know he’s usually right. But it doesn’t stop the guilt.
Not one drop.
Those of you who read my blog on the regs might well remember that I am prone to anxiety with a dollop of OCD thrown in for good measure, so I have often assumed that perhaps my particular brand of crazy might exacerbate matters somewhat.
However, a few school run conversations and a couple of Facebook status updates later I can confirm that, in fact, Motherhood renders us all somewhat crae crae when it comes to the things we feel guilty about.
Earlier this week, I wrote a Facebook status update about Mum Guilt, asking my friends what triggered theirs.
Several hours of procrastination later (NB: for procrastination, read – buggering about on Twitter whilst half watching Netflix) 3pm rolled around and off I went on the school run.
I was shambling home with my chaotic brood and another Mum and her little girl, who is in the same class as my son.
“I was thinking about your post on Facebook this morning, and for me, today, it’s pretty much everything.” she gestured, with a weary smile…
…And really, that’s basically how it is, isn’t it? We can stress out about ANY aspect of our own parenting performance, if we deem our own performance as somehow sub-par, as decided by own (often harsh) personal system of attribution.
Renouncing All Common Sense
Here’s the thing: If another Mum were to approach you and regale you with her latest trigger for Mum Guilt, what would you say?
Invariably, when discussing other people’s Mum Guilt we immediately seek to reassure. To rationalise, and to justify the other Mum’s actions and/or choices. Because we get how hard things can be.
We know that we cannot spread ourselves thin enough to successfully be everything to everyone all the time.
We cannot be perfect. We’re all human. Sometimes we shout and lose patience. Sometimes we’re just done for the day and we can’t play tea parties / dinosaurs / fairies at 6pm because we’re bloody knackered.
So, yes darling, you can have my phone / the iPad / the PS4 for an hour because frankly if I don’t get a few minutes peace and quiet I’m going to pop a hernia.
And that’s ok.
But when we’re judging ourselves, all bets are off. Holy Moly we’re in for a rough old ride.
The Mum Guilt Loop
Mum Guilt is relentlessly futile. For me, there are two main triggers, being impatient, and shouting. In both cases I feel like I’m in a continual loop of Situation: Reaction: Guilt: Repeat. It’s wearing and stressful, and utterly pointless. For example:-
I lose my patience and shout at my oldest two. I won’t lie… I do this ALOT.
In fact, when we moved house 3 years ago, I became convinced that my neighbours had started think of me as ‘That Shouty Woman Who Lives On Our Street.’
My house is loud. With a toddler, a four year old, and a six year old rampaging up and down our creaky three story semi, noise levels reach defcon 9 on an hourly basis. Also, I have never been super-patient. As a Mum I have found ways to stretch it, but I’m not intrinsically blessed.
My kids are high spirited and intelligent, which is great – a fact of which I am proud. It also means that they can be spectacularly shit at listening and doing what they’re told. Chuck in the element of time pressure into this mix and BOOM! Here comes Shouty Mummy!
This particularly explosive cocktail is served most term-time mornings, usually reaching a peak around 8.15am.
The air rings thick with:
“WHY HAVEN’T YOU BRUSHED THEM YET?!! YOU WENT UPSTAIRS 2O MINUTES AGO!”
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU CAN’T YOU FIND YOUR SHOES, I’VE LITERALLY JUST GOT THEM OUT!”
and “GET YOUR BLOODY SHOES ON NOW!!!”
usually rounded off with “ARGHH!! WE’RE LATE. AGAIN!!!! IF YOU DON’T GET YOUR COAT ON IN THE NEXT TWO MINUTES I’M TAKING AWAY SCREEN TIME FOR A WEEK!”
I’m tired and exasperated as we leave the house, and once #1 and #2 have been dropped off at their respective class entrances the relief is palpable. But by the time I turn the buggy around and reach the end of the road, There it is, in all it’s relentless glory.
“I should have been more patient…”
“Oh God… I hope they’re ok…”
“…What if all this scars them for life?!?…”
“I was *horribly* shouty back there…”
“I’m literally ruining my children’s childhood…”
Aaaand repeat, ad nauseam, until 3pm pick-up when the little cherubs skip merrily into my arms, joyful that their school day has ended, not a care in sight, and hoping for a cheeky mini packet of Haribos on the way home.
27(+1) Of The Most Ridiculous Causes of Mum Guilt… Take Your Pick
The more I talked with other Mums about this the more obvious it is to me that the vast majority of Mum Guilt triggers are totally unavoidable scenarios that are just part and parcel of our daily lives.
Lots of us have obscure and totally random reasons for it. The best I’ve heard recently was: “When I look in the fridge and we’ve run out of yoghurts. I feel MAJOR mum guilt… it’s his favourite thing in the world to eat, how could I possibly be too busy with other things not to realise we were running low?! Feels like such a tiny thing but THE GUILT!!!!!” (thanks Hayley, for this particularly bonkers example)
So… Yeah… Yoghurt.
In fact, to illustrate the ridiculousness of Mum Guilt, I’ve put together a list of some of the recurrent themes myself and other Mums have experienced. Here are 27 stellar examples:-
- Having an emergency C-section
- Not being able to breastfeed
- Using the cry it out sleep method out of total desperation
- Not making home-made food during weaning (I kid you not)
- Not going to enough toddler groups
- Having siblings
- Not having siblings
- Not taking them out enough
- Not arranging enough playdates
- Shouting too much
- Not being patient enough
- Not being consistent enough
- Blaming yourself if your kids are fussy eaters (also, see next)
- Not making healthy enough food (because sometimes cooking all those veg just for them to sit on your kid’s plate going cold before getting hefted unceremoniously into the bin just doesn’t seem worth the hassle)
- Going back to work
- Not going back to work
- Being too tired to play with them in the evenings
- Using the telly / iPad / phone as a babysitter (because how the hell else are you going to get the dinner on?)
- Getting them to help out
- Not letting them help out
- Arranging childcare
- Getting short-tempered with them at bedtime / in the mornings
- Feeling relief once they’ve gone to bed / after you’ve dropped them at school or nursery
- Not being psychic
- Not being everywhere at once
- Doing literally anything by or for yourself
- Stressing out about feeling guilty
Let’s take a while to let these all sink in shall we? Because I’m using this as conclusive proof that Mum guilt is insane.
You are NOT to be trusted!
Usually in my posts I try to encourage Mums to trust their instincts and go with their gut when it comes to all things Mumming. Today, however, I am saying the precise opposite.
If you start feeling Mum Guilt, I want you to ignore the shit out of it. Listen to your friends or your partner when they tell you not to worry about it. Chill the f*ck out, you’re doing ok!
Channel your inner Pete – Logical indifference is the thing….
when if all that fails, there’s always wine. Tomorrow is another day.
Special thanks this week to these lovely bloggers, who shared their most mental Mum Guilt moments, made me chuckle, feel relatively normal, and helped illustrate how bonkers it all is. Muchos thanks to:- Erica, Kate, Jenny, Luscha, Catherine, Beth, Victoria, Danielle, Victoria, Abi, Eva, Jo, Georgina, Sarah, Renee, and Melanie.
If you liked this blog, why not check out some of my other shizzle here, you might find this one particularly handy if you’re having one of those days. You’ll also (probably) love The Mum Conundrum facebook group – it’s sure to ease your Mum Guilt. My Facebook page has lots of funny and interesting stuff on it too …A like and a follow is always welcome, you know ;0)
I’m also on twitter quite a bit, so do say hello if that’s your bag.
You can also email me if you’ve got an idea for something you’d like me to write about, or if you’d like to work with me. Feel free to hit me up here.
Oh, and Instagram … lest we forget x