Being a mum is a tough gig. There are constant pressures and societal expectations that can leave you feeling inadequate. Don’t love your post-baby bod? Gave your kids lunch money instead of a packed lunchbox? These little niggles lead to dreaded mother’s guilt. Firstly, your feelings aren’t unique. Secondly, you can overcome them.
The guilt struggle:
From the moment you hold your new bub, the desire to perfect motherhood takes hold. However, flawless parenthood eludes us all, so we begin a lifelong struggle of not feeling good enough. We feel guilty for resenting our crying baby. We feel outraged at our vanity over our stretch marks. We even feel guilty for asking for help.
Then comes school years. We’re racked with disdain over anything from poor school grades to accidently dropping them to school after the bell. In the words of Susan Douglas, Ph.D., author of The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women, “So many devoted mums think that no matter what they do for their children, it’s not enough – and society doesn’t help.”
Here’s how to get a grip on mother’s guilt…
Stop judging yourself
Just because your friend’s baby sleeps through the night or their kid is captain of the debating team, doesn’t mean you have a right to put yourself down. The sooner you stop judging yourself; the sooner you’ll suppress the guilt. Repeat after me: Your best is good enough. Every child’s journey is unique. Being a present, loving, supportive parent is more than enough to make you adequate.
When it comes to parental shortcomings, there’s definitely a sliding scale. So before you’re swarmed by feelings of guilt, take a moment to rationalise whether it’s really justified. Sent your kid to school with a slightly dirty uniform? Probably not worth getting upset over. Forgot a promise to take them to soccer practice on Sunday? Okay, perhaps a slight pang of guilt is warranted, but that simply shows that you care (and you’ll be unlikely to let that slip your mind again).
Being a parent involves tough choices, and you won’t always get them right. Plus, some things are simply out of your control – like getting your toddler to eat greens.
Being able to laugh as things spiral out of control is an integral part of motherhood. Does your house look like a bomb went off? Does your appearance look like you survived the bomb? Is your daughter’s fringe crooked? Step back, accept the beauty of the chaos and let things go. If you sweat the small stuff, you won’t survive the big stuff.
Is the grass really greener?
Humans have an innate need to seek ‘greener pastures’. Working mums wish they could give their kids the same attention as stay-at-home mums. And stay-at-home mums wish they could contribute to the family finances or achieve their desired work/life balance. In reality, every mum does the best they can for their situation. There is no greener grass, and there is no better mother (trust me, comparison is your worst enemy).
Take a load off
You may not know it, but a lot of your guilt and struggles are commonplace. Once you let down your guard and admit your struggles, other mums will admit similar ones. So join (or form) a support group with likeminded women. Share, laugh and conquer your adversities, and you’ll take steps to overcoming your mum guilt.