I first heard the term ‘mummy guilt’ a number of years ago when an otherwise lovely acquaintance said to me “oh, you don’t know about mummy guilt yet”. Immediately I hated the term and I had to refrain myself from leaning over the table and strangling her as I geared up for yet another “just you wait ’til you have kids” speech.
Now, I am a mum. And while I get that being a parent is a massive learning curve, and we probably get it wrong more times than we get it right, I’m still not a fan of the concept of mummy guilt.
It’s not that I don’t relate to the thing they call mummy guilt (I may have even experienced it on occasion). I mean, we all want to do what is best for our children right? But a lot of the time our expectations are very different to reality.
At the end of the day, I hate that there are so many awesome mums (and dads) out there that are spending precious time and energy feeling guilty about what they are, or are not doing.
The dreaded guilty feeling can rear its ugly head in many ways… but for some reason, more often than not, it seems this mummy guilt stuff is directly linked between work and time with our babies. That ever elusive work / life balance.
There’s the stay at home mum that dreams about her former self kicking butt on the corporate ladder. She might feel guilty for sometimes wanting to be a career woman again. Or maybe she feels guilty that she’s no longer contributing to the household finances.
There’s the mum who had to go back to work. Maybe she needed to go back for financial reasons or perhaps she would have lost her job if she didn’t. And every morning she reluctantly leaves her child in someone else’s care as she wishes she could turn the car around and go back to their happy little bubble at home.
Then there’s the mum who went back to work because she wanted too. She absolutely loves her children, but she also loves her career. And she wakes up every morning feeling guilty that she might be putting her career before her children.
None of these choices make us bad mums (or dads). So why is it that we let this pesky guilt get the better of us??
What makes this phenomenon even harder to deal with is the fact that for some strange reason, some women seem to almost enjoy critiquing other people’s parenting choices. Perhaps it helps them to ease their own guilt for a moment. But wouldn’t a better solution be to just accept and embrace and be grateful that we do have so many choices available to us?
So let’s just all agree to STOP!!! Stop feeling guilty all the time! And while we’re at it stop judging each other and comparing ourselves to others.
To the mum who works outside the home and has to put their children in care, you are teaching them that you can have a successful career and a successful family life. You are teaching them about work ethic, responsibility, and finance. You are teaching them that they too, can have a career and a family and succeed at both. You are teaching them to make friends and make connections with others. You are teaching them independence.
To the stay at home mum, you are instilling into your children your own values and ethics, not someone else’s. You are teaching them that making a worthy contribution doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of a job. You are reading to them, playing with them and teaching them skills that you consider to be important in life.
In the end, whatever your circumstances are, the best advice I can give is that you just need to do your best and own it. No matter what.
And if no one has told you yet today… you are doing a great job mama!