A Mother’s Guilt
A Mother’s Guilt – is a real thing
By Sharon Yardley
It starts from the second that you have a tiny foetus in your belly. ‘Am I good enough? Am I eating right? Is this too heavy to lift? Am I getting enough sleep? Will I harm my baby by doing….?’
The panic sets in – that you are responsible for keeping a human life safe, healthy and growing inside of you. From the get-go, this being is so dependent on you and every decision you make has a direct effect on them.
And then you have to give birth to this precious human baby without hurting it in any way, ‘will the baby get enough oxygen, will it be okay, if there are complications, what did I do wrong?’ If for some reason you can’t give birth naturally, you question what you did wrong. You question what others will think. You worry about what others will say. As if a mother’s guilt isn’t enough, society has decided to add its own guilt-trips on a mother’s role and what it means to be a mother.
A Mom’s guilt.
Breastfeeding. The ultimate judgement of what it means to be a good mother, a good woman, being a good enough human.
It. is. not. easy for everyone. Logically we know this, but in seeps that feeling of “I can’t do it. I’m not good enough. My baby is not going to get the best nutrients and antibodies. I am a failure.”
A Mom’s guilt.
Going home from the hospital… ‘Why is my baby crying so much? He didn’t do this in the hospital. What am I doing wrong? Is the baby sick, hungry, wet? Does he have colic? Colic means incorrect winding you have been told, am I winding wrong? WHYYY is he crying?’. ‘Is this because I didn’t give birth naturally? Is this because I am not breastfeeding?’ That is what they say, you know.
A Mom’s guilt.
Visitors who come to meet your precious baby. With the best intentions but also LOTS.OF.ADVICE. ‘Who do I listen to? Why is this not coming to me instinctually, what is wrong with me? Even animals know how to deal with their babies. I am failing; my instincts are faulty, and I am not good enough to have this baby.’
A Mom’s guilt.
There are so many incidents through your child’s early years that add to this guilt. We love our children so desperately and we only want the very best of life for them. Anything that occurs that is not so ideal – called normal life! – adds to our sense of failure and guilt. The first time we leave them, they scream and we go anyway – guilt. When they have to be inoculated, they cry, guilt. When they have to learn to share and they cry, heart-wrenching pain for a parent as to how many more hard lessons they have to learn, AND, ‘am I doing it right?’. Are you feeding them enough good food? What even is ‘good’ food? Am I spending enough time with them? Do I discipline them too much-heck, do I discipline them enough?
They don’t want to go to school; they want to go to a club as a young teenager; they smoke or drink behind your back in their teens; they are being bullied by someone at school and you cannot stop it… they are at an age where you know nothing in their eyes and their attitude towards you is less than loving – your first thought is, ‘Where did I go wrong? What did I do wrong? I have failed, I am a bad parent, what could I have done better?’
A Mom’s guilt.
Then they grow (despite all our questionable parenting) and you now have to trust that you have taught them well – in their choice of life partners, with their life values and in the bringing up of their own children. ‘But what if I haven’t?’ When anything goes wrong in their lives, we take it on as a personal problem. ‘We should have done better. Then they would do better. What did I do wrong? Is it my fault?’ Then the circle of life turns and the process repeats itself when your children become parents. A parent’s guilt is part of the deal when you decide to start a family and the reason for that is twofold.
Firstly, we want a perfect life for our child which, in a broken world, is not possible, so we set ourselves up for failure.
Secondly, you start to wear your heart on the outside of your body when you have a child and therefore it is so easily hurt. It is all so very personal.
We want excellent, perfect lives for our children but unfortunately perfect does not exist. All we want is for them to be the best version of themselves, and sometimes we need to just step back and allow that to be the case- rather than inflicting our own ideals and guilt onto them. As long as you are doing your best, they will be fine. They know you love them; they know you are trying your best. One day at a time, one (self-inflicted) guilt-trip at a time, one lesson at a time- they will be fine. In fact, with a mother’s love- with a love like YOURS- they will be more than fine.
We need to acknowledge that we all feel this guilt because we love our children fiercely. We need to also know, as we acknowledge the feelings of guilt, that exactly because of this love, we will always attempt to do our very best as parents. This is the eternal truth and we need to relax, be kind to ourselves and just enjoy God’s precious gift He had and has the confidence to entrust you with.
Talking with someone professional can help you put your Mom’s guilt in its place and give you more peace whilst doing the most important human task: growing a child to becoming a decent, functioning adult. If you need to chat, contact one of our professionals on our online space and chat in the comfort of your home.
A problem shared is a problem halved! A lifelong basic truth.
*Disclaimer. We would like to acknowledge that this guilt is just as real for a dad and that it is in fact, PARENT’S GUILT. This blog, however, was written by and through the lens of a mom.