Written by Bailey
Anyone else got mum guilt? Well I’m guilty as charged.
Way before I found out I was pregnant, even after I was told that I wouldn’t be able to have children, I knew the kind of mum that I wanted to be if given the opportunity.
I had this idea in my head that my whole existence would shift and my baby would be at the centre of absolutely everything. I thought I wouldn’t care about sleeping, having time to put on make-up or no longer peeing alone. Maybe this was naive of me — and the start of setting myself up to fail — but I truly believed that the ‘old me’ would disappear and this Earth mama would take her place.
Fast forward to having my beautiful Nova. Of course my life did change, literally, overnight. What didn’t change though, was my personal needs.
I still need to sleep, I need to eat and I need to be able to dress for the day. What surprised me more though, was that I wanted to do all of those things.
Enter: mum guilt.
Now I’m not saying that every new mum will experience this — and if they don’t, then in turn they shouldn’t feel guilty for not feeling guilty!
It’s just for me, this guilt has shadowed a lot of my mothering. It got in the way of moments that should’ve been pure and enjoyable.
DROWNING IN GUILT
When I had to go and have a shower, I felt guilty that I’d left Nova in her bouncer. When I wanted to put my make-up on to (attempt) to leave the house, I’d feel horrible that she was in the front room with CBeebies on.
I felt like I had to be by her side at every second of the day. And when I couldn’t be, the guilt drowned me.
As she’s grown, the guilt has only got worse. I’ve been ill a few times and that’s made me physically unable to leave my bed. I’d hear her from the bedroom running around or babbling to her dad and I’d lie there and cry that I wasn’t with her. I’ve even felt uneasy when she’s been sleeping and I’ve managed to put something grown-up on Netflix. Seriously, what the hell!?
Feeling this shitty about yourself and your abilities as a mum can affect your whole energy. It impacts everything.
I eventually started becoming anxious when I had somewhere to go and knew I had to get ready, or I’d dread starting the daily cleaning crap, because then she would have to entertain herself for a while.
Even though I’m writing this, I’ve never spoken to my friends with babies about my struggles with feeling this amount of guilt. I think that comes from a place of not wanting to look as though I can’t handle being a mum and all the trials that come with it.
But if I did voice my feelings, I would probably find that it’s sadly a common feeling.
And I believe this is because we as mothers and women, are so f*****g hard on ourselves.
GO EASY ON YOU
We’re naturally so quick to build others up and in the same breath tear ourselves down. We compare ourselves to other women and then condemn ourselves when we don’t match up.
So why should the world of motherhood be any different?
What I find baffling is that we hear and read all these ways to gentle parent our babies in order to give them the best start to life. We take it all on board and put all of our energy into succeeding for their sake. That’s awesome. Yet we don’t take this gentle approach to ourselves.
Why don’t we see ourselves as our babies see us? Why isn’t it instilled in us to love ourselves like we love our children?
What I have discovered during my pregnancy, my labour and my journey of caring for my baby, is that women are a f*****g force. I’ve grown up surrounded by strong women, but my eyes have been peeled back an extra layer after becoming a mum.
What we endure, take on and can accomplish is incredible and we very rarely get credit for any of it, from ourselves or from others. I’m not saying I want a medal for every time I manage to stay up through the night with my teething baby. But I do demand the right to able to have a guilt free 45 minutes of putting my make-up on after surviving a shit night.
And far more than demanding this from others, I’m demanding it from myself.
I don’t want mum guilt to take away from what we achieve on a daily basis. I want us as mothers to pat our own damn backs that we get up in the morning and show up for the day. We care for our babies to the best of our abilities and that should be enough. Every. Single. Time.
Now at this very moment, I’m sitting here whispering ‘hypocrite’ to myself, because as I’m writing this, Nova is sitting on the floor watching some mind-numbing fairy programme. Guilt pang. Despite being aware of it, there’s still something in me that feels I should be performing a sensory dance with scarves and homemade rattles instead of doing what I’m doing.
But this ‘gentle to mum’ way of thinking is a learning curve — and something that needs to be practised daily.
Nova’s fine, I know she is and I will learn to tell myself that instead of frowning internally. My whole being wants the best for her and that should always be enough. F mum guilt. We got this, mamas.
By Bailey xx
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