Guilt in Motherhood: a mother’s perspective

Mummy guilt…. We have all been there in some way or another. For some mothers, the wearing down guilty feeling is a constant presence.  It’s like a dirty stain that you can’t get out in the wash. For others, it may just pop up occasionally on its own or may be triggered by an event or emotion. It’s a terrible feeling when you are thinking you might be screwing up your kids. It can be a massive burden which can take a toll on your mental health and set you on a downward spiral.

I am experiencing mummy guilt right now. I’m writing this post while my kids are playing with each other and I’m thinking, ‘should l be spending my time with them? Does this make me a terrible mother?’ Self-doubt is toxic.  It creeps up on you like a mosquito in the bedroom when you are asleep. You just want to squash it but no matter how hard you try in the dark, you just can’t do it!

I know that the many things that l feel guilty about are not even worthy of any space in my brain. But it’s like we are programmed this way.

Am l a good mum? Am l a responsible parent? Am l spending enough time with my kids? Am l spending too much time? Are they watching too much tv? Do l take them outside enough? Do they have too many toys? Have l damaged them by yelling at them?

The list is endless. I could go on all day about my mummy experiences that make me feel guilty.

Then one day l am talking with a work colleague about this and l had a light bulb moment. She says to me, ‘what advice would you give to a mother you were looking after who tells you that she was experiencing mummy guilt?’ Bingo. What would l tell her? That she is a wonderful mother and doing the best she can. I would explore her strengths and give her positive feedback and encouragement. We need to celebrate what we are doing right! We all have things we could work on. That’s what makes us human and it’s called life. It doesn’t mean we are stuffing everything up.

I am currently re-examining myself. Yes, l am a good mother. I love my kids more than the universe (this is what l tell my kids), read them lots of books and try to feed them healthy foods (most of the time). I make sure they are warm when they feel cold, fed when they feel hungry, comforted when they are sad, washed when they are dirty and unconditionally loved totally and completely. I’m doing alright. I am a good enough parent and I’m happy with that.

Maybe guilt can be used for the purpose of good if you let it. Therefore, it can remind and reassure you that your parenting is good enough. We are not striving for perfectionism. Kids do not want their parents to be perfect. How would they learn and grow if they are not shown how to? Children need to be able to learn from our mistakes, shown how to move on (forgiveness) and foster positive and happy relationships.

If you feel that guilt is having an effect on your mental health and your relationships, talk to someone about it. Sometimes talking to other mothers can level some of your fears and guilt. There are a lot of commonalities among parents and what they feel guilty about. You may need to visit your doctor or nurse and maybe have some counselling. As mothers, we want to be able to enjoy parenting and have some fun along the way. Most of all, don’t get bogged down by mummy guilt. It’s not worth it!

Fast forward to a week later and l have just had a two hour nap in the middle of the day on a weekend. The children are out with their father having some much needed daddy time and l am taking the time to recharge because it will benefit not only me but my whole family. Guilt….. it’s not visiting my house today!


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5 Replies to “Guilt in Motherhood: a mother’s perspective”

  1. When I was a kid, my parents were super paranoid about screwing me up. One day, I told my mother that I loved her more than Dad. Now, I was 3, and thought that meant “I like Mom more than Dad at this moment” but, of course, my parents freaked out and proceeded to gather me into my room for a deep and troubled talk on why I loved Mommy more than Daddy.

    Moral of the story? You’re probably a fine parent. Your kids love you and micro-analyzing all the ways you are screwing them up won’t get you anywhere because they don’t have anything to compare you too. Kids think you do everything the way you should because they don’t know any better.

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