Before having children, I never realised that guilt and motherhood fit together like Gin and Tonic, one just isn’t right without the other. Pre children guilt was not part of my daily thoughts. In fact, unless I had clearly done something wrong I never felt guilty at all. Now guilt is such a common feeling I can’t remember not feeling it.
It began the moment I got pregnant. Had I had too much caffeine? Was I too late in taking folic acid and causing harm to my unborn child? Then in labour, would pain relief have a lasting impact on my child? This continued in the early weeks, the guilt I felt when my children cried because I hadn’t realised quickly enough that they were hungry, or overtired. In toddlerhood I’d feel guilty for losing the plot when my child had selective hearing and didn’t do as they were told.
I imagine this feeling to continue well beyond their childhood. My sister recently confided that she felt guilty that her oldest son has laryngitis as she worries it is linked to their argument the week before. She also said that after a recent visit to her dentist with her 8-year-old son the reason that one of his teeth is slightly discolored could have been defect from the womb! How did she feel about this? Guilty, of course.
So I say stop! We cannot and should not feel guilty for everything. We are doing our best and do you know what; it really is good enough. Indeed, the very fact that you ever feel guilty suggests that you are reflective enough to care and see the world through your child’s eyes. No one is super woman. We are people and people are infallible. Making mistakes makes us who we are and teaches our children that it’s ok to make mistakes and not always get things right. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, we can always look back and berate ourselves for what we did or didn’t do. But at the time we can only act on the information we have to hand and in a way that feels right at the time.
Perhaps we need to take note from our male counterparts, I have never heard my husband or any other father I know for that matter, ever even mention guilt in relation to parenthood. When I told my husband about this blog he seemed surprised that was an issue. So let’s find a new coupling with motherhood, hopefully one day motherhood and confidence will be the link we make rather than guilt.