The Thing About Mum Guilt

Blog Post from CheltenhamMaman HQ

Last weekend was a long one. The kind of weekend where you find yourself glancing at the unopened bottle of wine in the fridge wondering if 4.47pm is too early for a teensy glass (it is).

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CheltenhamPapa was away with Enfant no 1 ( number 710 in the Wimbledon queue so don’t feel too sorry for him). On paper this shouldn’t have been an issue, it just meant that I would be home alone with Enfant no 2 and Enfant no 3 for forty eight hours, no biggy. Except somehow, despite them both being on pretty good form for the duration, I managed to make it into a biggy. The enfants in question are 11 and 5 months (poor planning on the procreation front I know) and it’s pretty much impossible to do anything that has both of their interests at heart. The bébé expressed her dissatisfaction (loudly) whilst I tried to enjoy a movie evening with the older one and when we had to delay heading out for a fish and chip supper due to a proj vom incident the 11 year old couldn’t hide his disappointment (or disgust.)

Now I’m sure I’m not alone constantly trying to manage my mum guilt. Despite the fact that I feel so very lucky to be a mother and know that this is one of the most rewarding and satisfying roles I will ever play I won’t deny that there are some (many) hours, days or weeks when I’m not feeling it and it’s all a bit shit. The problem is you can’t air that feeling…. Always in the back of your mind is the fact that no one coerced you into having children (I hope), it was your choice and therefore you feel you have no right to say ‘I’m finding today a bit hard and wondered if you might take my rugrats out for the day so I can catch up on Love Island/go for a walk/defrost my freezer’ (delete as appropriate). Instead we lock ourselves in our wardrobes for ten minutes until the feeling subsides and spend the rest of the day daydreaming that Ryan Gosling might just turn up on his motorcycle and say ‘hey girl, wanna go for a ride?’

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As I write this I feel guilty that my family might read it and misunderstand. Guilty and confused that no one other than me feels like home with their family is the ONLY place they ever want to be but that actually they would just like to be in a café with a book without their family for the next three hours. It’s a real quandary that we can’t quite understand ourselves so how can we expect anyone else to understand it?

If you please one child and not another you feel guilty, if you have a job (that you may even be lucky enough to enjoy) you feel guilty, if you don’t have a job you feel guilty. Spoiled your child rotten on their birthday? You’re  guilty of not teaching them the value of money and hard work, given them a ruler and a packet of crayons, you’re guilty for being a Scrooge. Got your arse out of bed at 5.30 am to take them to their swim training? You’ll be guilty of pushing them too hard but let them eat their Rice Krispies while watching questionable YouTube videos … that’s the opposite sort of guilt. I was horrified to hear my Mum tell me just the other day that she feels guilty that I’ve turned out just like her and can’t sit still without a project. It seems the guilt remains with you through the whole of your parenting journey.

The long and the short of it is that no mothering day, regardless of the age of your children, is free from mum guilt. We are so lucky to live in a world now where it is becoming more acceptable for mums to have a secret whinge in a forum like this that is safe and free from judgement.  We’ve all been there hiding in that wardrobe with our hands over our ears trying to drown out the ‘Mum have you seen my *insert random item of crap that is in the most prominent place imaginable*’ or the ‘why Mummy? Why?’ or just the never ending grizzle of the overtired baby or toddler.

I’m sorry to disappoint you by saying I don’t have any quick fixes for mum guilt. Just remember that some days you are better at handling it than others and that maybe, just this once, asking for help might not be such a bad idea and definitely doesn’t mean that you a) don’t love your kids, b) are a failure or c) made a mistake by having children.

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I’m ending this with a fist pump (or is it bump?); my reasons being that it demonstrates that I’m young and hip and also is a sign of solidarity.  I’m with you Mamans. Just try not to feel guilty about feeling guilty. That would be a step too far.

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