I wonder if there are any mothers out there who don’t question if they are a good parent. Don’t question whether they are present enough or patient enough. Don’t wonder if they could be doing more.
I doubt it.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, parenthood comes with a whole lot of guilt. I was completely unprepared for just how often I would be overwhelmed by, what is more commonly referred as, Mum Guilt.
Here’s where I’m at right now. Last night Oscar slept badly. This isn’t unusual by any means but for the last few days all that seems to work, to get him back to sleep easily, is breastfeeding. Not breastmilk but breastfeeding. So I was tired this morning. At 4.45 he was fully awake and ready to start the day but I was far from it. He sat between Candice and I on the bed, playfully throwing things from the bedhead at my face and climbing all over me, his tiny feet jabbing into my ribs. I groaned and pulled the sheet up over my head. Candice was tired too and grumbled something like, “I guess I’ll be getting up then”. I was so relieved to be able to stay in bed. Fast forward an hour and a half later, when Candice comes back into the room with Oscar. She was about to leave for work and asked me if I wanted her to drop Oscar off at daycare as she had gotten him all ready. I paused for a second, before saying “Yeah, that would be good”. I then rolled over and fell back asleep. It was about an hour later that I woke up and that pesky Mum Guilt started to creep in. You see, I don’t start work until 2pm everyday this week. I had been excited for this shift to come back around as it means I get more time during the week, with Oscar. I’m always complaining about not getting much quality time with him yet here I am, at home alone while he is at daycare. And what’s worse is I’m enjoying the quiet and I’m happy to be alone. Cue the guilt.
I know this doesn’t make me a bad mother. Not at all. In fact if I was to read this post I would think that it is totally normal and that this woman should chill out and stop making something out of something.
Because that’s the thing about Mum Guilt. It’s often irrational and brimming with self-condemnation. It channels its way through every vein of this parenting gig. Sometimes I find it completely inescapable.
Do I spend too much time on my phone? Do I talk to him enough? Am I offering enough variety in his meals? Could his routine be better? Am I encouraging enough? Do we have the TV on too much? Do we say ‘please’ and thank you’ enough around him or are we teaching him bad manners?
My purpose of this post isn’t to have people reassure me that I’m a good parent. I already know that I’m doing a good job, I really do believe that. It’s simply to let you know that if you’re currently suffering through a bout of Mum Guilt, you certainly aren’t alone.
I think it happens to the best of us.
So, if you promise not to be so hard on yourself, I’ll try and do the same. Tomorrow is always a new day.
Besides, your kid probably thinks you’re best Mum in the world.