You badger the earth mama for giving her kids fish fingers for dinner instead of organic kale and quinoa cakes. You make the working mum cry after dropping her baby at daycare. You torment the poor new mum for accidentally falling asleep with her newborn. You pick on the hardworking single parent for using the TV to babysit because she desperately needs a break. Heck, you even attack celebrities for not not being ‘mum enough’ and paying for help.
But I wonder, Mum Guilt, did you haunt our grandmothers like you do us? I don’t think so. I think mummy guilt goes hand in hand with modern motherhood. In this Instagram age of perfection (there’s a filter for that!), mums have to do it all and do it all well, and it’s easy to let the guilt occupy way too much of our thoughts and feelings.
This is why I think mummy guilt can go and eat my toddler’s rejected broccoli:
1. We are all doing our best
Mums today have it tougher than previous generations. We are expected to raise our kids, earn an income, maintain the house and also ensure everyone in that house is feeling cared for and happy. That’s huge! No wonder I and every mum I know feels like she’s constantly dropping the ball.
But here’s the thing. We are all TRYING. We are all doing our best. So instead of feeling guilty about our shortcomings, it’s time we celebrated our achievements. Because despite the odds, we are actually doing it all as well as we can. And that is incredible!
2. Mum guilt will kill you if you let it
Mummy guilt is insidiousness in the way it can niggle at us and then completely erode our confidence, making us feel like we are less of a mum. It is so constant that it can make us feel guilty about every little thing to do with raising our loves. But does it really matter if we feed our baby from a jar instead of making homemade baby food because we ran out of fresh veggies? Probably not.
It’s time we called out mum guilt for what it is — a cancer on motherhood that will kill us if we let it.
3. No one is a perfect mum
No one. Not even the health-conscious yoga mum who gives her tot carrot sticks and homemade hummus to munch on at the park. That mum isn’t perfect. Every mum is just trying to do her best and struggles with feelings of guilt. Guilty that she needed to accept more work when she really isn’t managing the juggle now. Guilty that she hasn’t toilet trained her little one yet. Guilty that she can’t afford to give her a backyard … the list goes on.
The point is, no mum is perfect and trying to achieve perfection is bloody exhausting.
4. Mum guilt can cloud your mum intuition
This is a big one: Mum guilt can deafen the voice of our mum intuition. Our internal compass for how to look after our little ones. It’s our secret mum-superpower. It alerts us when something just doesn’t feel right for us or our baby. But if we always feel guilty about every little thing, all the time, then we might fail to hear it when the siren starts.
5. Mum guilt takes away from the amazing job you’re doing
Feeling guilty all the time also stops us from giving ourselves a pat on the back. To look at our contented little one, smile and think ‘no one can mother my baby like me. I am her world and she loves me with every beat of her tiny heart. I am doing a stellar job. And I have proof. Just look at how happy she is!’
And you are. We all are.
So mum guilt, consider this your notice. I am going to turn down the volume on your persistent, nagging voice and embrace the voice that tells me I am doing my very best.