A couple of weeks ago I took Soph for her vaccinations. Her 18 month vaccinations. Soph will be 3 on the 6th of April. I gave a high-pitched laugh when our family doctor asked what we’d come in for that day, barely masking my embarrassment of not having had her immunisations done already. Ever the grounding force, she reminded me that although we were a ‘little’ late, I was doing the right thing by vaccinating my child and that I should stop being so hard on myself. That I was a great mom. Cue the waterworks, almost.
Just when I think I have this whole motherhood thing down I serve myself a healthy dose of mom guilt. And I say ‘I serve’ because let’s be honest, we do this to ourselves. My mom guilt ranges from:
How many play dates have my kids had this month? Too many? Not enough?
Are the kids doing enough extracurricular activities to make sure that they’re well-rounded and exposed to everything that’s on offer?
I rewarded them for good behaviour with sweets the other day, am I setting them up for a lifetime of bad behaviour or obesity by continuing to do this?
Sophie has slept through the night, in her own bed, a grand total of 1 time(s) since October 2017 – am I the world’s worst mother for not making her stay in her own room?
I feel guilty for enjoying having a career, and being away from them (granted they are at school during this time), but at the same time I also enjoy being able to provide for them.
And so the list goes on…
My initial mom guilt probably kicked off with having to have an emergency C-section over a natural birth with Oli. I’d had it drilled into me that it was my God-given right as a woman to successfully carry and deliver an infant. My body was designed to give birth, naturally. Unfortunately, things don’t always go according to plan and we need to stop, refocus, and let go of the guilt. My next mom guilt moment was again with my brand-new baby – I didn’t breastfeed. Either of my kids. I felt a huge amount of guilt over not successfully breastfeeding Oli, in fact I was so scared to even tell people he was formula fed for the fear of judgement I’d receive (how ridiculous is it that a new mother should feel angst over other people’s opinions?!) – and I can assure you, I was judged countless times over, in fact, you might be judging me right now. As a mother we aspire to be the best damn mother we can be and anything short of being, dare I say, unattainably perfect, we end up feeling like we’ve failed – aka ‘mom guilt’.
Social media is my absolute nemesis when it comes to mom guilt. Beautifully curated outfits, homes, trips, activities, lives etc. etc. face us on every channel. My heart sinks at the thought that I’m not doing enough with, and for, my children. I guess it’s true what they say – comparison is the thief of joy. We need to be so careful to remember that what we see while scrolling through other’s lives is not always reality. I like to think I’m doing a good (no, scratch that, a great) job at being a mother to my kids, and yes, I gave them the store-bought play dough to play with over the weekend instead of making my own like I so often do, but you know what, they were just as happy as they would have been if I had made it with my own two hands.
Don’t compare yourself to other moms. Your kids don’t need them, they need YOU. Everyone is different, parenting is definitely not cookie-cutter. What works for one mom may not work for another, so don’t feel guilty over it. Okay, so you didn’t give the kids their 5 servings of fruit and veg, who’s counting? ONLY YOU, that’s who. That cold Soph got last week? It wasn’t a direct result of her eating macaroni and cheese for two days straight. Cut yourself some slack.
I know exactly what kind of mother I want to be, do you? But maybe we should stop aiming to be ‘that’ mother, because we already are ‘her’. I’m the best mother I can be for my kids, and that’s good enough. I am enough. Let’s stop being so hard on ourselves. The guilt we can feel as mothers has the ability to entirely consume us otherwise. Rather, remember that it’s not necessarily a bad thing to feel guilt over our children – it’s a human reminder that we absolutely love and adore them, and only want what’s best for them. As a mom, this is your story, don’t try and be a star in someone else’s.