Children, Life, Parenting, Working Mother Guilt
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Do you think you are a great Mum?

Do you ever have days when you look at your beautiful child and your heart swells so much it could burst and then you think to yourself “Oh shit, I really have absolutely no idea what the feck I am doing?”

Oh good, so it is not just me then!

If you answered no, then please do still stick around as I may well need your advice later.

I have no idea if the way I am parenting my son is the right way or the wrong way. 

If he had only come with a manual at birth and a 10-point plan clearly set out, then I’d follow it exactly to the letter and know for sure that all my parenting decisions were the right ones.

Then, I would know for sure that I am being a good mum. 

Because as much I loathe to say it out loud, I doubt myself sometimes.  I am making all these decisions for this tiny little person and I have absolutely no idea how they might end up affecting his life.

How can I really be sure that he has not suffered any trauma over being born by emergency c-section. 

Or, if he will be open to all sorts of illnesses and infections because I was not able to breastfeed him. 

When will I know if giving my baby a dummy at 3-weeks old has affected the way his teeth are growing (note to self to book a dentist appointment).

The guilt over not having taken him to the dentist. 

And, for using disposable nappies. 

The all-consuming guilt of returning to work when he was just one and leaving him with a nanny.  What if he feels that I abandoned him?

More guilt over letting him watch TV in the morning while I get dressed for work.  I once proudly told another mum about my method for getting out of the house tantrum free and on time, and she was absolutely HORRIFIED. 

I mean it is not like I am plonking him there in front of the TV all day – he sits on my bed and watches Peppa Pig so I can put my knickers on without a toddler running between my legs squealing ‘Can’t catch me, Mummy’.

Lots of guilt again over not doing enough craft activities – we do a bit of painting, a bit of drawing, a bit of playdoh and that is all (note to self to start subscribing to craft blogs).  

I console myself over this one by remembering that he is in nursery all day doing crafty stuff.

Oh god, he’s in nursery ALL DAY.

Guilt that weekday mornings are spent getting him dressed and out of the house, and weekday evenings are spent getting him undressed and into bed. 

Guilt over cramming too much into weekends to compensate for not having much family time during the week. 

Guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt. 

I mean, I could just go on and on and on.

I do not know what makes someone a great mum.  I do not understand what makes one person a better parent than another.  I have no idea why one parent’s decision to follow a particular method or approach makes another way wrong.

I have no idea who we are even measuring ourselves up against – is it each other?  Our mothers?  Gwyneth Paltrow?

Being a parent means making choices every day – some may be well thought out and others just made up on the spot.  But surely they all come from a loving place?  I do not know anyone who would intentionally make a decision for their child that they knew for certain would be harmful to them, or to their development. 

The confusion is in the sheer amount of conflicting advice and opinion out there. 

It can’t all be right but it can’t all be wrong either. 

I think you just have to pick the one that works best for you and your family and ignore the rest.

Maybe the fact that we are so invested in our children’s well-being, is just as important as the individual details anyway. 

Just one look at your child should be enough to tell you if you are doing a great job or not – if they are smiling, happy, loving, well fed, clean and contented little souls, then what more validation do we really need?

I read somewhere “You’re only a terrible mother if you NEVER think you are one.”

I think there might be something to be said for that. 

Do you think you are a great mum?  What do you think is the secret to guilt-free parenting?

 You can also find me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @smudgerella

 

14 Comments

  1. Sarah Derrig says

    Honey, without a doubt you are a great Mum! Reading your blog posts about Zachy is evidence of that! I feel EXACTLY the same way! I think it’s normal to always question yourself and I actually think that is the sign of a good Mum! Being the mother of a daughter I try not to push my love of things on to Sadie as she might not be interested in those things. There are days when I go to bed and think “mmm I wasn’t a great Mum today” because I may have gotten upset with her over something silly, or I chose to do Uni work in the afternoon instead of painting with her but I really think that if you know when you’ve had a crap day and you can admit it then you’re being a good Mum. No body is perfect, there is NO perfect parent but I truly believe that if you love your children, do everything that’s in THEIR best interest, learn from and admit to your mistakes and always try to improve yourself you’ll come out on top!

    I think communication with your partner is also key – you have to make sure you’re on the same page with how you want to parent.

    It’s so hard not to compare yourself to other people, and I HATE it when other Mums ‘compete’ against you – it drives me INSANE!

    Unfortunately I see a lot of bad parenting in the school I work for – these kids spend NO time with their parents, they are raised solely by the domestic helpers and you constantly see them acting out on a daily basis. I see these kids and feel so incredibly sorry for them, go home and squeeze Sadie that little bit harder and know that EVERYTHING I DO IS FOR HER… except for my fortnightly mani/pedi…that is ALL FOR ME!

    xxx

    • I agree, I think it is always good to question what you are doing and why. Then at least you know you have made an informed decision. I have bad days too when I am tired or in the middle of something else. But we need those days too – we can’t always be ‘on’. And our children need to understand we need our space every now and then too. I hate it when I feel I am being judged by another mum but I can never work out why what I am doing offends them so much?? Maybe some people seek validation in this way as it is easier than admitting they feel out of their depth too?
      You are a fab fab mum and Sadie is very very lucky to have you. I can just imagine the fun you guys get up to and I wish I was there too!
      xxx

  2. The guilt starts from the moment you’re pregnant – along with the worry. My OH has brought up 5 children and constatnly tells me to relax. I said I always feel I am letting them down (and I’m at home with mine!) but he told me to stop thinking about what I should be doing and just be myself. I swear it has changed my life – yet, funnily, I do and say the same things – just from a different place inside – try it! X

    • I will Anya, thank you so much!
      You are totally right – just need to relax and go with it a bit more xx

  3. Love this post so much, really relate. I think if you can find the secret to guilt free parenting you’ll make your millions. Meantime, we’ll all just have to muddle along and do our best.

  4. Eva says

    I came across this quote recently and it really rings true:

    “Provided… you have loved your children in a way that has convinced them of it, there is room for error, and repair, repeatedly” – Elizabeth Hartley Brewer

    I have decided to stop beating myself up for not doing enough for the boys. We are all doing the best we can and it really is good enough. We must stop feeling the guilt!

    Xxx

    • That’s a really good quote.
      It’s reassuring to know all mums feel the same! We are all too hard on ourselves sometimes and guilt certainly does seem to be a common theme throughout – we are all doing our best, love our children and they are happy little people so we must all be doing something right!

      xx

  5. Clare from Belfast Mummy says

    I try and subscribe to good enough parenting. The guilt is always there, the worst guilt I ever felt in my life was for my baby girl when I lay on the operating waiting for small boy to arrive, this was then matched by feeling even more guilty for thinking that way when small boy was about to make his way into the world.

    I do very little in the way of craft activities, I have attempted a few things I read on blogs but the outcome has been disastrous, I try and comfort myself that instead of this I am doing other things and we do a lot of cooking and outdoor activities (anything to get us out of the house), I am including shopping and cafes in the outdoor activity list!

    x

    • Haha, we do lots of cooking and outdoor stuff too so I do feel that even things up a bit!
      The guilt is the worst bit, I have heard that it never ever completely goes away…
      x

  6. You sound like a super Mum. We all have these worries and without a manual are just finding our way. I think look at the child, is he/she happy, loved, fed-oh good then we’re winning x

  7. It’s so easy to beat yourself up constantly about whether or not you’re a good enough mum – on Friday, which is my day off, I actually had to go to a meeting and A was looking for lots of hugs and I had to close the stair gate on her while she was crying and reaching out for me because I had to go upstairs and finish getting ready to get out the door. I felt like literally the worst person alive let alone the worst mum 🙁
    Anyway, you strike me as a totally super mum – Zachy is a lucky boy 🙂 xxx

    • P.S. – the guilt is the worst bit – you are a SUPER mum and have nothing to feel guilty for. I know how you feel, I was at work when Z was taken to A&E with pneumonia 🙁 Wrenches at your heart but you are not a bad person, you are lovely and A is lucky lucky lucky xx

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