How I Conquered My Mummy Guilt

Ah mummy guilt  you’ve ever been a close companion of mine ever since the moment I first looked into my boy’s eyes and asked ‘why isn’t he crying? Is he breathing?’

This week I spent a couple of fairly terrifying nights in the kids emergency with Bear after some complex febrile seizures due to an ongoing battle with recurring tonsillitis. We had to sit and watch his little body spasm while the nurses repeated the words that are supposed to be reassuring but really every parent dreads – ‘there is nothing you can do or could have done to stop this from happening. ‘ While intellectually I can accept this, apparently that horrible little voice in my head disagrees and starts harping away:

‘This is your fault you know, if you’d hadn’t had that dagwood dog/coffee/ham sandwich while you were pregnant he wouldn’t be having these’

‘oh look google says that kids that are breastfed to one year are less susceptible – maybe if you’d just tried harder at that you wouldn’t be sitting here right now’

‘oh he picked up the bug at daycare – so if you hadn’t gone back to work you would have a healthy son, god you’re so selfish’ 

guilt guilt guilt oh look more mummy guilt.  The wars running in forums and comment sections have nothing on the guilt cooked up by my brain combined with some feverish late night googling. I have never had a moment where I felt like I was succeeding as a mother and spend every day feeling just that little bit guilty, just that little bit behind everyone else. Like being a good mother is this amazing club, and while I love my son (oh god I love him more than I ever though I could) I just don’t meet the entry requirements. It’s like being a 13 year old nerd all over again.  No matter how many hours I held him or songs I sang to keep him happy while people stuck him with various objects the jury in my head always comes back with the same verdict – you could have done better.

And it needs to stop.

mummy guilt quote

For all my faults as a person, it’s about time I admit to myself that I am constantly trying to be the best mother I can and surely that has to count for something. So today I am going to pat myself on the back for my recent achievements in motherhood.

  • I played ‘Where’s Bear’ for 45 minutes straight without going insane. He actually got bored of it before I did.
  • Over the last few days, I discovered that in my brain I have stored most of the Wiggles back catalogue. I’m fairly certain its pushed out something really important like the ability to sleep but hey, being the only one in the room who knows all the words to Fruit Salad might come in handy again one day. It certainly did this week.
  • I held him when he cried.  He knew he was loved and safe while he went through something traumatic, and that is a big deal.

They might not make me mother of the year but they make Bear smile and its about time I took that as the award that it is.

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21 comments

  1. Mummy guilt is a terrible thing, and we all feel it. Let me tell you it doesn’t stop when they get older too! Just have to give ourselves a break though, we ARE doing a fabulous job! All those little selfless things that make you feel like you are going insane add up and make you amazing. Tell guilt to bugger off. It was my mantra last year – no guilt.
    I hope your little man is feeling better xx

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words! I tell myself every day that no-one else is Henry’s mum so I must be the best at it!

  2. Oh hun, I’ve totally been there and get where you’re coming from. There are two quotes I was reading today that sum up my response to you perfectly, “The very fact you worry about being a good mum means that you already are one.” And, “Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” Hang in there, you’re doing just fine.

  3. We have all been there and sadly you will head back there again many times. Many mums try to be perfect but you must remember it is just your idea of perfect and the kids think you are perfect – just the way you are. Glad your little one is OK. Very scary stuff.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting! I think in some respects it gets easier when they get older. When he was a newborn I was never sure if we had that bond that people talk about but now he’s able to move away from me, I see how much he comes back for reassurance and I know that I am doing okay with it all.

  4. I love this post so much that I’m choosing it as one of my fav posts on Turn it up Tuesdays….

    I’ve been there…and I am still there. You know I sometimes feel I’ve failed because I entrusted my first son into the care of a nanny at 3 months to go back to work, and she ended up not feeding him right…he’s still very small for a 7yr old without any medical condition…

    I feel I’m failing because I still shout and yell…because they wouldn’t eat veggies and fruits…I mean other ‘perfect’ moms have kids who does everything their moms tell them without a fuss.

    It’s crazy but I’m getting out of that hole…knowing I’m doing the best I can considering the circumstances.
    And knowing they have a mom who loves them more than her life and who would go any mile for them.
    Like Eva wrote right up there, I’m no more criticizing myself but I’m approving and cheering me on. Go mom. Go you.

    (sorry, my response was almost turning into another post…lol)

    Hugs,

    Abiola
    http://www.biolaleye.com

    1. First of all thanks so much! 🙂

      Go you as a mum too! It’s taken me a year of Henry’s life to pull myself out of the hole and realize that every mum is perfect to their own little one. I’m the only mother of my son and that makes me perfect.

      Even on the nights where he’s eaten nothing but yoghurt and sausages for three days.

      Hugs and love to you too!

  5. I totally agree with your post. There are so many ways we work for our kids, and taking care of ourselves is one of the biggest. He’ll grow out of the febrile seizures. The only thing you can do is try to keep him fever-free by pre-treating with acetaminophen and ibuprofen when he starts to get sick. Hopefully he’s already feeling much better. Thanks for sharing at Turn It Up Tuesday!

    1. Thanks for the comment and the tips!
      A very wise person once told me there is a reason why you put an oxygen mask on yourself before your child and its something I’ve definitely been trying to remember.

  6. Yes it is so easy to get caught up in the should have or could have’s- when really we are doing so much more than we will ever realize. We need to give ourselves a break and more credit for what we do.

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