Why I feel guilty ALL THE TIME since becoming a mother
We all know the phrase I think therefore I am, well I have an amendment to this phrase: I am a mother therefore I am... guilty that is.
Mum-guilt is a very real and very persistent emotion. Since becoming a mother, I have basically existed in a state of self-inflicted, permanent, all-pervading guilt. I am pretty sure that this is not unique to me.
I hear over and over from mothers how they feel bad about their parenting, or how they have guilt about working or guilt about staying at home. Motherhood is an incredibly subjective and individual experience, but one thing I think the majority of mothers have in common is that they feel guilty. They feel they are not doing enough, they are never doing enough.
10 reasons why I feel guilty ALL the TIME since becoming a mother:
1. I had a c-section. I understand that on a rational level this is NOT a cause for guilt. But still I feel guilty. Except when someone says something to me about "too posh to push" in which case I feel murderous.
2. Breastfeeding was near f*cking impossible for me. I persevered, gave it EVERYTHING I had and in the end made it to about 5 months combination feeding before weaning the Child and commencing monumental guilt spirals. The only let up I got from the guilt was when someone (a woman let's be honest here) would helpfully tell me "every mother can breastfeed" and then, for a few minutes at least, I would feel utterly enraged instead of guilty.
3. I didn't do any sleep training. The Child still doesn't sleep all night. Have I failed to teach him to sleep properly? I don't know but what I do know is that I feel really, really bad about this. Ridic.
4. I co-slept with The Child for the first few months. Kindly people informed me in no uncertain terms that I was endangering my child. Obviously my aim was not to harm my child but do what felt right for us – still the guilt persisted, and I made sure not to tell anyone else about our sleeping arrangements.
5. When The Child was six weeks old, I went out on a night out, and virtually everyone expressed astonishment that I was happy to leave my baby when he was so young. And I felt like the crappiest, worst mother ever. In my defence it's not like I was out on the lash, I was at my book club – it was pretty sedate, but still I was away from my child so guilty as charged.
6. When I suspected that I had postnatal depression and felt very distant and detached from my son. I was convinced that he would somehow sense that I didn't love being a mum every second of the day. I was not bonding with him properly and I was certain that having me for a mother would irrevocably damage him for life. Guilty.
7. I went back to work. Guilty.
8. I was happy to go back to work. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
9. I don't do enough mindful parenting or crafts or reading or curating an unforgettable and magical childhood for him. Most of the time I'm too consumed with just trying to keep my head above the rising tide of nappies, laundry, deadlines, bills, letters to post and meals to cook to remember to appreciate every moment with my little boy. GUILTY.
10. My ultimate fantasy is to go to a hotel room. On my own. Forever.
OK not forever... but for at least a day or so. Then I feel guilty for this and terribly ungrateful, and I have to rush home to the Child and smell his hair and kiss his neck and say "sorry" over and over for being a bad mother.
Obviously this is a pretty subjective list but I suspect that we all have similar lists of our shortcomings as mothers filed away in our heads, and I wrote this piece for anyone who thinks they're the only one doing a terrible job.