Mums know that with the birth of our first baby, comes the birth of motherhood guilt. It arrives in the hospital unnoticed, but latches onto that baby capsule the minute you leave.
It stalks you every step of the way to move into your home, hiding behind doors and under the bed. It’s a leech that’s impossible to shake.
But, since having my second son, things have been different. I’ve been able to relieve myself of this leech a little. I’ve come to accept that no form of parenting is right or wrong. It’s only wrong if it’s wrong for me. Therefore, guilt be gone!
Here are some examples …
Eating ‘sometimes’ foods
With my first son I felt guilty if he ate chocolate or any kind of ‘sometimes’ food, particularly in public. Even when I really needed to bribe him to get things done, I’d resist.
I couldn’t stand the feeling of (what I believed to be) judgemental stares, and I felt guilty that giving him ‘junk’ made me a bad mum.
My second son can often be seen in public proudly brandishing a chocolate bar or an ice-cream of sugar filled nasties. He also likes McDonalds. I don’t feel guilty.
I let him enjoy it and ignore any judgemental looks. At home he’s fed home cooked meals with lots of veg – albeit cleverly disguised – and when it comes to fruit, he could give a fruit bat a run for his money.
Looking constantly unwashed
My first son was far from clean when he was little. He’d roll in mud, spill food all over his clothes and often looked like he’d dodged the shower (for days!).
On outings, I’d carry multiple outfits and change him throughout the day. He got a full body wipe down if we were going somewhere new. I felt too guilty otherwise, as if I didn’t care.
My second son is like an extra from Oliver Twist. No one even knows what he looks like clean – including me.
Minutes after he’s dressed, he’s managed to pick up stains, muck and even holes in his clothes. He’s simply a magnet for mess. I don’t feel guilty because it’s how he rolls. He’s dirty because he’s exploring and having fun and that just makes me smile.
Having a bulging nappy
Like any first-time mum, the regularity of my son’s nappy change was a little, shall we say, over the top. I’d change him so much that he often hadn’t even had time to wee.
If I forgot for more than an hour, I’d feel guilty as all hell. Imagine him sitting neglected like that?!
It’s been known for my second son to wander around looking not dissimilar to a sumo wrestler. A bulging nappy almost bursts through his pants but, if we’re in a rush, I sometimes figure it can wait.
He’s never suffered with nappy rash or the like, so I’ve been fortunate in that sense. Perhaps that’s why I don’t have guilt or perhaps I’m lazy – either way, I don’t feel guilty!
Squabbling with other children
When I took my first son to social outings with other small children, I’d often feel on edge. When he started moving he became more enthusiastic with his ‘cuddles’ and he liked to bounce toy cars off the top of people’s heads.
The guilt I’d feel was sometimes unbearable. What terrible mum was raising a child like this?
My second son is much the same, but I don’t suffer with the guilt. That’s not to say that I’m heartless or want another child to get hurt. But, I understand that this is how children test boundaries and learn and, with the exception of out and out violence and damage, it’s generally ok.
When my first son was born I wanted to be with him all the time. The first few months we were attached at the hip or, more specifically, the chest.
I rarely did anything without him. The thought of even wanting some time away struck me like a guilty dagger to my heart.
My second son can often be seen waving me off out the window as I escape the zoo that is my home. I rediscover my sanity and self over dinner with girlfriends, an hour walk or even hanging out at Coles.
I never feel guilty about taking time out and if that guilty leech even dares rear its head, it will know it’s messed with the wrong guiltless me.
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