Melissa asks: How do you cope with the motherly Guilt? I find it the hardest part of being a mum. Guilt imposed by myself and by Others. Work, don’t work, allow chocolate, ban chocolate etc…
Melissa’s question made me think about one of my very early posts, Guilty As Charged, where I wrote about all the things I felt guilty about as a new mother. â€œMy mom told me today that you aren’t a parent till you feel guilty about something.Â And there’s so much to feel guilty forâ€, I wrote at the time.
Now, 15 or so months later, I realise that my approach has changed and my feelings are different, and motherhood has been a much more pleasant experience as a result. There are many reasons, but an oddly simple explanation: I am doing my best.
And that’s not a cop-out statement. On the contrary, it is meant as a motivation, and for me, an ambition to strive for. That also doesn’t mean I never feel guilty about things, but rather use the guilt as a starting point for change.
So what brought around the transformation for me?
So much of being a mother involves politics. If you do one thing you offend one half of mothers and if you do another you offend the other half. No matter what you’re doing, you’re doing it wrong, and yes, your child will be scarred for life because you did do, didn’t do, or thought of doing xyz. Knowing why (point 4) you do what you do makes standing firm in your choice a lot easier, and makes avoiding the politics that much easier too.
Remember also that there is no ‘one size fits all’ in parenting. What works for me and mine might just not work for you and yours, so don’t waste time and energy comparing yourself and your child(ren) to those around you.
So, in the end, I think the answer is to do the best you can with what you have, and make peace with what you cannot do, or give. If you have to work, don’t feel guilty about it, because guilt exhausts, meaning when you get home you don’t have the energy to spend the quality time you do have effectively. Give chocolate if you want, don’t give it if you don’t â€“ but both in moderation. We don’t allow sweets or sugary drinks in the late afternoon or evening (choice) because the sugar keeps Ameli awake too late, isn’t digested by the body in the evening and isn’t good for her teeth (reason).
By allowing ourselves to feel guilty for all the ways we aren’t as good as we want to be, we lose out on valuable time where we could be meaning something, and doing something positive. By no means does just doing your best mean that you have to compromise on your parenting ideals, but what it does mean is that you’ll cut yourself some slack when you fail, and tomorrow, once you’ve caught your breath, counted to ten, or the next time your child walks into the room, you can apologise if need be, and start again, with a clean slate and no need for guilt.
Sixteen months, little girl. Sixteen months.
We’ve had quite a hard month, really, and it’s been more about me than about you. I’ve been on this hormone treatment to try to sort things out in my very messed up hormones, and besides that I had a great case of food poisoning that knocked me out for a good week.
You’ve been great though. Even when I was sick, you just kept yourself low key and for the most part entertained yourself when aunty Deshaine wasn’t around.
Your development is phenomenal, and you just keep adding words to your vocabulary. Sometimes we only have to repeat something once or twice and you have it. I don’t think you always understand the word but you definitely ‘get’ actions. Sometimes I’m absolutely astounded by the way you follow instructions. You may not know the words, but you certainly know what they mean.
One day I was doing some housework when you just wanted ‘up, up, up’. I decided to get you involved, so gave you something for the bin, and you popped it in the bin. I gave you something for the wash basket, and you popped it in the wash basket. I gave you a wooden spoon to put in the sink, and you looked at me with confusion. So I led you over to the sink, and you stood on the tips of your toes and reached your arm up as far as it would go and dropped it on the ledge. I was so incredibly impressed.
You’ve taken to drawing, but at the moment, your version of drawing usually involves a pen and one or another body part. One day you were drawing on your leg with a ballpoint pen. I took it from you and drew a flower on your knee. Once I was finished, you pointed at it, said ‘wower’ (your version of flower) and then raised your knee to your nose and sniffed repeatedly. Maybe you had to be there, but it was very funny.
Not all your developments are great either: You’ve learned to pretend that you can’t hear me when I’m telling you to do something you don’t want to do. Which works pretty well until I pretend I have some tasty bit of food and go hmmm-mmmh â€“ then you hear perfectly and want some too!
I could fill pages and pages with the things you do, my beautiful girl. But this will do for today.
Oh, and you have more teeth! You have four on top now, and four on the bottom, and more bumps all over your gums.
Keep doing what you’re doing Princess. You are beautiful.
Lots of love,