When I was pregnant, I had grand plans of having a beautiful, drug-free delivery where a doula or my husband would whisper words of encouragement while I pushed my baby out into the world. But after my waters broke and my cervix refused to dilate, my OB-GYN shot me up with a dose of pitocin. The labour pains quickly became oh-so real and I wanted ALL THE DRUGS. My son came into the world three hours later – much too early for me to make the most of my epidural. Then, instead of fully enjoying the moment of holding my firstborn, my first thought was: I might have damaged my baby because of the epidural. Guilt.
The nurse handed me my son and asked me to try and latch. He didn’t warm up to my boob until much later on in the day and I wondered if I was a terrible mum for not having boobs my son wanted to feed from. Guilt. After wheeling me into my hospital room, the nurse asked if I wanted my son to be in the room with me or if I wanted him in the nursery. Of course I want him in the room, I told her. Why would I want anything else? Guilt.
And this was just the first few hours after my son was born. Three and a half years and two kids later, the guilty feeling is still there. Now that I’m back at work, there’s my working-mum guilt. When my husband and I go on date nights, I think about how I’m missing the bedtime and bath routine. Guilt. When I go to the gym for a few hours and come home to my kids sleeping or playing in the playground, guilt.
Mum guilt sucks. No matter how awesome something is supposed to be, you always feel like you’re doing something wrong. Whether it’s giving your kids a sweet treat when ‘sugar is bad’ or letting them play games on your phone because you need to have a meal in peace but ‘screen time rots their brains’ – you’re constantly thinking twice about everything motherhood. Instead of enjoying this special time in our lives, we’re constantly nitpicking and reassessing our actions. Which brings us to the question – what is making us this way? Why are we so worried about how we are perceived as mothers? Here’s what helping me deal:
Realising that nobody is perfect
As mums, we all have this innate desire to be the perfect Super Mum. But what if we took that image of perfection and changed it up a bit? Acknowledge that we have our bad days but they don’t make us any less Super Mum-like. How we deal with those bad days can make all the difference. So, instead of dwelling on how horrible screen time is, switch on something educational and use it as a learning tool instead. Be more involved and ask your child questions about the show. There’s always a better way to go about things – it doesn’t have to be so black and white all the time.
Knowing that my partner is in sync with my choices
Everyone has something to say about what they think is best for your children. But at the end of the day, the responsibility of raising your kids lies in yours and your partner’s hands. While it’s important to listen to other’s opinions, it’s more important to follow what you and your partner believe is the best decision for your children. When it comes to parenting, both my husband and I look to each other for help and take each other’s views into consideration. We both understand we’re practically newbies at the parenting game with heaps to learn, so nobody can say that they know better than the other.
At the end of the day, we all just want what’s best for our kids. And that includes a happy mum, not someone ridden with guilt and anxiety each time she makes a decision.
A love letter to my boobs after breastfeeding
What happens to your body after giving birth? Plenty!
The small age gap debate