Guilt and Motherhood – Hand In Hand?

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Guilt. It comes with the territory, I think, as soon as you become a mother.

Little Man is a constant challenge, as any active, adventurous 16 month-old is. And in my reflective moments, I adore that he’s like this, as I think it indicates confidence, intelligence and a happy, little spirit. I’m proud of him, but that doesn’t make it any easier when he’s moving from one potential catastrophe to another, with me trailing behind him every minute that he’s awake. Boo? Well, she’s 4, she’s smart, and she knows her own mind. We have the odd clash. Again, I’m incredibly proud of her, of course. Pop these two in with working from home, and I can find it challenging! And testing. I can get impatient, and then I feel guilty, of course.

I have them at home with me, not at a childminders or nursery, though Boo now has a couple of days at pre-school in preparation for going to school in September. I wonder, does this put them at a disadvantage? When other children are having child development experts looking after them, and are surrounded by other kids to play with, are they getting a better start than mine? This isn’t about competitive parenting, or one-upmanship, just a genuine concern to do the best I can for them.

I’ve been pondering how we spend our time together. Little Man went to baby massage and baby yoga in his first few months of life. It was something for just the two of us, and nice as I’d not taken these classes with Boo. He hasn’t been to any since then. Boo did. I’m not certain that he needs them, though there are a couple I have my eye on that we will start in September while Boo is at school. In the meantime, is he missing out? Is he being hard-done by? Not sure that he is, as he certainly seems happy and developing well, but hey, it’s something else to feel guilty about, isn’t it?

I’m not even going to start on considering the effects of the odd take-away that we have, watching CBeebies or their biscuit intake! Everything in moderation, I believe, so I’ll push these guilty thoughts out with that!

On the flip-side, I never feel guilt doing something for me. Probably because I do it so rarely! Putting the kids first just kind of happens, so when they’re in bed, and I want to sit and eat copious amounts of ice cream, watch films, read books, I’m happy and guilt-free – I earn it!

I think the motherhood guilt is always there on some level, and I’ve yet to meet another parent entirely without it. I think the key is to not let it overwhelm you, at least not too often or for too long. It cannot swallow you up, but to have it there lurking must mean you care, that you want to do your best at this motherhood thing, as after all, it’s likely to be the most important thing you’ll ever do. That’s what I tell myself anyway. Reassure myself it’s all normal, and maybe even a positive sign. A sign that I’m trying.

How about you? Do you have guilty moments?

This post was inspired by a new linky by one of my favourite bloggers, Sara over at MumTurnedMom, called The Prompt. Do pop over and see what others made of it.

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30 thoughts on “Guilt and Motherhood – Hand In Hand?”

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    I really relate to this post! Guilt and motherhood absolutely go hand in hand! Whenever I am with other mummies we are always trying to justify our reasons for doing something or other. It shows how much we care and want to do the right thing – but let’s face it – noone really knows how to be a perfect parent, hence the guilt!
    I don’t think you have anything to feel guilty for though as your two certainly seem very happy and sound lovely so you must be doing a great job 🙂 xx

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      Always nice to know we’re in the same boat! Mine certainly seem happy, so I’ll just carry on doing the best I know how! Thanks x

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    I could not agree more! We always try to do our best for our precious little ones, but then there are those times (sometimes more often than others) when we are impatient with them (not always within reason in my case), and don’t we just feel awful about it after that? In think it is in a mother’s genes to feel guilty. Odd, but true. You feel guilty for working, you would feel equally guilty for not working, then you feel guilty for not giving them the same chances as children who attend the best school, or clubs… I do not think it will ever end. I actually felt guilty about my baby’s eczema (I do not have eczema myself by the way!), which is what I wrote about for #ThePrompt. Let’s just remind ourselves that we are great mums and try our best not to be guilty about everything! Mel

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      It just happens, as soon as that baby arrives, doesn’t it?! Sad that you even felt guilt over her eczema, despite doing so much to help her, but that’s how we are, isn’t it? Thanks x

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        … or even as you as you see the blue line on the pregnancy test! Did I eat Brie in the past few days? Will that glass of wine I had yesterday damage my child’s chances in life? We cannot help it! Mel

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    Parenting is the best and worst job I have ever had. What makes it harder is when those around us fail to share their bad days, we all have them but if we are made to feel like we are only ones it makes the job ten times harder

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    Great post Jocelyn! I can particularly relate to the worry about nursery. Both my boys have had full time nursery/preschool, and the wee girl has had nothing so far. I really worry that I’m not enough, and that she is at a disadvantage. But, like you, I also don’t feel guilty when I do something for myself, it happens rarely and makes me a happier, nicer person to be around 🙂
    I think your point about feelings of guilt being a positive sign that you are aware and care is particularly true.
    I try very hard to make a distinction in my own mind between worry/concern/remorse and guilt – guilt to me says I’m at fault. I can feel bad about something, and want to change it, without it being my fault.
    Thank you so much for linking up with #ThePrompt xx

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      It’s always good to hear others share my concerns, and I’m sure your happy wee girl is not at a disadvantage – easy to see as an outsider looking in! Thanks for the inspiration for the post and best of luck with #ThePrompt

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    One of the areas of guilt I have as a mother of twins is whether I’m spending enough time individually with them. My son went away with my husband a couple of months ago to a wedding and my daughter was overjoyed to have just a weekend alone with Mum. It’s hard to balance out time alone with each of them. #theprompt

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      I can well imagine. I’m aware of that with my two, but at least with their different ages, the littlest naps and the oldest spends a little time at pre-school so there are spare times each.

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    You pretty much sum up what I feel too. I worry about littlest somehow missing out on stuff especially as I did more with eldest, but then he’s happy and confident so why am I worrying and feeling guilty? As you say, it’s about balance and not letting it overwhelm you I think ultimately.

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    Oh, I could absolutely have written this post myself. We are in the exact same boat! When I left my job to start a freelance business in September people looked at me like I was crazy when I said Eli would be staying at home with me. But, like you we make it work and I try not to worry about the other stuff all that much. Doesn’t always work though!

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    I worry about everything I could possibly worry about! But at some point you have to come to terms with your decisions. I don’t go to a playgroup either but I am doing my best to keep my toddler engaged at home.

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    I think childcare is something all parents manage to feel guilty about (or at least worry about). My son is going to nursery full time when I go back to work in August. I feel guilty that someone else will be looking after him more than I am, but equally I know he’ll get so much out of going. And if he wasn’t going to go to nursery I’d feel guilty that he was missing out on some sort of social development by not going! It’s a minefield, but all we can do is the best we know how and it sounds like that’s what you’re doing.

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      Yes, I think you’re spot on. Either way round could make us feel guilty, but as long as we’re going the best we can and they’re happy, we’re doing OK!

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    As you’ll know from my Friday linky, guilt is definitely a feature in my life as a mum, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing (in moderation!) To me, a tinge of guilt as I make time for myself enhances the pleasure and reminds me how precious it is – a bit like sliding back under the duvet when you know you should be on your way somewhere out in the wet and cold! (Or eating the last biscuit in the pack!) I think guilt is normal, part of a process of appraising ourselves as parents – I don’t think there’s much we can do to eradicate it entirely but we can remind ourselves that it’s normal and not worth dwelling on – perhaps reminding ourselves of one thing that we think we do well for every one thing we start to feel guilty about it, that might help us maintain some perspective!

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      I like that idea – almost tit for tat! It is totally natural, I think, in moderation. Perhaps even healthy? In moderation! x

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    Oh childcare is a big one for a lot of mums isn’t it? I’m a sahm bit I get the feelings about A not going to play groups or anything that he’s missing out in some way bit I don’t let it eat me up as you say. Midge did go to these places but then she liked her library group an Alfie just doesn’t do the sitting there and singin thing!
    Again you’re right about the take outs etc I mean it’s a treat there doesn’t need to be any guilt there at all! Lovely post xx

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