How I Dealt With Mommy Guiltby Amie MacKay
Yesterday I had one hell of a day! I’d spent what felt like the entire day raising my voice, getting frustrated, my patience wore thin, (several times!) repeated myself a thousand times over, clearing up, well trying to, dealing with a million tantrums over nothing, I found myself watching the clock, counting down the hours until my hubby got home just so I could take 5 minutes to lock myself away and just breathe and then found myself counting down until bedtime. Which of course, because I had a list of stuff still to do and had a crappy day that required a very large drink! Obviously, she chose to fight her sleep until nearly 10 pm. By which point I was knackered and didn’t have the energy to do the things I still had to do!
Once she finally gave in and went to sleep, of course, it was a bedtime routine that consisted of countless trips back to the toilet, multiple drinks and just one more good night kiss! When she was eventually sound asleep, I found myself sat on her bedroom floor staring at my beautiful innocent little girl. I was sat there racked with mummy guilt! For so many reasons! Because I raised my voice over her tantrums, because my patience wore thin, because I didn’t do anything ‘fun’ with her because I was too busy trying to get on top of the housework and washing, which still isn’t finished! Because I let her eat so many snacks in the hope that she would give me 5 minutes to run the hoover around the house. I felt guilty for wanting some time on my own, for wishing her bedtime would come around so quick, for allowing myself to get so frustrated at my two-and-a-half-year-old when all she was doing today was sharing her frustrations with me. I felt guilty for not making the most of our day because she’s going to grow so fast because I won’t get that day with her back. I felt guilty for allowing myself to get frustrated with her because I wanted to be a mum for so long and I should be enjoying every moment.
So, I cried. Out of anger. I was angry at myself. For letting myself feel this way…again. Yesterday was hard, a tough day. That’s allowed. I know this because I’ve felt this way before, so many times before. It’s normally a day that I’m having a fibromyalgia flare and I’ve had to ask someone to help me with Heidi because my fibro has overtaken my body and I haven’t been able to do what I should be able to. With that I’ve learnt that I don’t have a choice with my illness, I cannot control it and if Heidi spends the day with one of her grannies’ she comes backfilled with stories and has always had a blast, it took me a while to realize that she doesn’t care that on that day the fun she had wasn’t with me.
But yesterday was a different kind of mommy guilt I beat myself up about not being a good enough mum, not a good enough wife, just not being good enough in general. Why? Because I didn’t get the household chores done. Because I didn’t finish the washing. Because I didn’t do any fun mom stuff. Because I didn’t even get a chance to have a conversation with my husband about his day. Because I’m a stay at home mom and I should be able to find the time to do everything that needs to be done. All of it contributed to the way I felt. Now I’m writing this now thinking why were you so upset? Nothing bad happened, so what, the housework and washing didn’t get finished, but Heidi is healthy, she was happy most of the day, well in between her many, many tantrums! And before she eventually fell asleep, she gave me a squeeze and a cuddle and said “I love you mommy” and that’s what got me thinking, I had a bad day, but the day hadn’t impacted her the way it had me. She still loved me even though I shouted, even though we didn’t do painting or go to the park. She didn’t care the washing hadn’t been done or the fact the house wasn’t sparkling. Even though the day had been a complete write off in my eyes, we still ended our day the same as every other day, with a cuddle, kiss and our “I love you”.
I also know as I’m sat here that I am certain each and every one of you knows exactly how I felt. I can almost bet that at one point or another you’ve been victim to mommy guilt. The thing with mommy guilt is that it comes in many forms, which I’m sure you’re all aware of. You feel guilty for shouting, feel guilty for having to work, feel guilty for wanting to have some time by yourself, feel guilty about not being able to get everything done, feel guilty about the fact that you don’t go to work, feel guilty about taking it out on your partner, feel guilty about not being good enough even though you’re doing your best. I could go on forever. I think I’ve felt every kind of mom guilt possible. I’ve had many a conversation about this and why us women seem to have to deal with this overwhelming sense of guilt! Now obviously I can’t speak for everyone and there may be those people who are lucky enough to not know what I’m going on about, but I think many of us do know. Now I may be way off the mark here but the term ‘mommy guilt’ seems to have its name for a reason and by that I mean I don’t think daddies suffer with it….well if they do I don’t think they get it as bad. Well, my hubby doesn’t seem to get it, we recently had a conversation about it and I asked if he felt guilty when he had to leave her to go to work, or if he felt guilty if he had a job on at the weekend and couldn’t spend quality time with her. He said he didn’t like missing out on time with her but he didn’t feel guilty about it because he was working and he has to work. He thinks I beat myself up too much about it, but I can’t help it, sometimes the feeling of guilt is just too hard to ignore.
So, I’ve spent what feels like forever trying to work out why, why we get this feeling of guilt and the only thing that I’ve come up with is society. The society we live in nowadays puts so much pressure on us women. We’re supposed to run the perfect home, raise the perfect children, be the perfect partner, work and look the part. There also seems to be this unnecessary competition between moms, you know what I mean, which mom does the most so has the hardest job. I mean you’ve got the mom’s who go out to work full time and still have all the household and mom duties to deal with when they get home and then the mom’s like me who stay at home. I find the whole thing utterly ridiculous! Nobody knows what other people’s lives are like, because we are not them, we do not live their lives. It’s no wonder we put pressure on ourselves and beat ourselves up for not managing everything. Social media does not help matters either. We all see the perfect pictures of everyone’s perfect lives, but the reality of the matter is nobody is perfect. There’s no such thing as the perfect family! Everyone is winging it because parenting, just like life, does not come with a manual! Nobody wants to post about their disastrous days, about how they feel like they’re failing. No, people want to post about their accomplishments. Which is totally fair enough, I mean if there’s ever a day I manage to complete everything on my to-do list, managed to be a fun mom and I manage to be the loving wife all in a 12-hour time slot, I’m sure I’ll be telling people!
What I have gathered is that this mommy guilt seems to be a normal part of motherhood. I haven’t worked out how to ignore it but what I can tell you is, some time to yourself, a large drink, a cry and a wee reminder to yourself that you’re a wonderful mom and the guilt goes away. Not forever, it’ll no doubt come back at some point. I was told if you doubt yourself as a mom, then you’re a good one. A bad mom wouldn’t care. So, I’m here to tell you you’re doing an amazing job, you’ve got this, it was simply a bad day, not a bad life. Tomorrow is a brand-new day!
So, on that note, I’m going to finish my wine and remind myself I’ve totally got this! Cheers!
Until next time,