Mum Guilt and Me

Over the last few weeks my blog has taken me to some fun places and made me some new blogging connections. One of the faces who appeared at two Kent blogging events within the same week, in Whitstable and Chatham was the ever so lovely Jo from Guilty Mother. Jo asked the panels at both the Clemmie Hooper Mums The Word Mamas Meets Up, and the Call The Midwife Tour at Chatham Dockyard about ‘Mum Guilt’, which was the original inspiration for her blog.

Jo’s questions, and the discussion by both panels really got me thinking about Mum Guilt – how it affects all of us in different ways, and how it plays a part on my role as a Mum.

Being at home vs being at work

I have no doubt that for many working Mums there is an element of guilt in not being at home more – I know that because I was too, once a working Mum, and probably still would be if I hadn’t been made redundant. That element of Mum guilt was eliminated the day I decided to take a career break, but it certainly wasn’t the end of work based Mum guilt.

Over the last few years I’ve started and grown a blog into a business, which has undoubtedly meant the girls have at times watched me with my laptop on my lap during movie times, tweeting from my phone whilst cooking tea and catching up on invoices whilst they splash around in the bath.

In all honesty I rarely blog whilst the girls are here – it’s now come a time when I can cram my working day into the five pre-school mornings and the odd evening, next to Dad Muddling Through on the sofa. (Should I mention I feel guilty about that too?).

I guess I am no longer an at work Mum, or a Stay at home Mum, I am somewhere in the no mans land inbetween – and I feel guilty about that. Has throwing myself into flexible work that I love been a distraction from the girls growing up around me? I really hope I’ll never look back and see it that way, but who knows. I have always justified the happy medium to allow my passions and productivity to thrive whilst being around for my children, and to be able to take childcare options through choice as opposed to necessity.

I’ve also pondered how the girls perceive me – a stay at home predominantly taking on the lion’s share of the domestic chores, school and nursery logistics, and a very discrete career that might be hard for them to understand when their friends ask what does your Mummy do? As I feel so passionate about the girls succeeding in whatever they wish, like I did in my career in Science after years of hard work and studying for my degree and post-graduate qualifications, only to give it up when I became their Mum. What message is that for the strong independent young women I hope to raise?

And then, there is the blog altogether. Tigs can now read and will often peep over my shoulder to read what I’m reading, typing, doing. How will she feel when she reads my words on a screen one day? Will she be proud, or mortified that her childhood has been laid bare in such a candid and raw way. I can only hope that my efforts to protect their identity will provide a buffer should they be less than pleased.

Maybe she’ll be overjoyed – her Mum ahead of the game as she prances around the house with her tablet making ‘You Choob videos’.

In the meantime I have tried to be open; they believe Mummys job is chief toy tester and for that they are extremely happy for now to see what the postman brings next.

Being a bit of a rubbish Mum

Aside from the juggle that so many of us face between work and children, the other element of my major Mum guilt lies in the worry that I could have done better. Often hitting between the hours of 7.30 and 9.30pm when their angelic sleeping faces make me wonder if that day was really all bad after all?

I feel bad that my daughter hardly eats anything despite my endless tries. I feel bad when I express frustration outwardly after another accident, for the 365th day in a row. I feel bad when I’ve lost control of calm and been that shouty Mum I don’t want to be. I feel bad when I complain to Dad Muddling Through that I’m exhausted and overwhelmed in earshot of my two beautiful girls who I would go to the ends of the earth for.

I feel bad when I know we should have gone out to the park, or done a jigsaw, but we opted for an afternoon of CBeebies instead. I feel bad when we blow out swimming because, honestly, we just couldn’t be arsed today. I feel really bad when I let them eat the sweets they helped themselves to before tea, because I just don’t have any more fight left in me to do the right thing.

I feel bad when I stress about the list of jobs to do at the allotment, which takes the fun away from something we all love and makes it into a negative. But allotment guilt? That’s a WHOLE other post.

I feel bad when I rush through that bedtime book because in truth, I’m done for the day and am in serious need for some adult company. I feel bad when I complain about needing a night out, or a date night, when compared to some other parents, we really don’t do badly in our social life at all.

And I feel bad when I complain about my near-perfect existence as though it is some kind of hardship to be a Mum to the best two little girls I could have ever wished for. Because honestly, really, I wouldn’t change a single thing.

Making it better

When I was a small girl,  my Mum made me Eggy Bread for tea and I thought it was the best dinner ever. We didn’t have swimming lessons, or gymnastics, or a stressy bedtime, or reams of endless toys and clothes. I was picked up from school by friends parents, family and for most of my memories, my Mum. Mum, who was the domestic goddess, who juggled childminding, work, teenagers and toddlers, in her shadow I grew up with an unstoppable work ethic and determination to be whatever I wanted to be. I can’t even really remember the specifics of our routines, other than singing loudly with Mum to our favourite 80’s mix tapes on the school run. My existence was happy and filled with love. Even after my parents split, twice the effort and happiness was provided and we certainly never questioned our parents commitment to give us everything we needed, which actually, wasn’t all that much.

Can we ever really eliminate Mum guilt altogether? Is that realistic? Being a mother doesn’t need to mean being perfect, perhaps Mum Guilt is just an inevitable factor in wanting the best for your children – even when they probably already have precisely that, regardless of your set up. The trick perhaps is to acknowledge it, move it along in your mind, and not let it consume you.

So many of our days and times as a family are filled with nature, outdoors, laughter and music. I guess saying sorry now and again, trying to be present and happy in the moment is all it takes. Sometimes bits do need to be juggled – and our kids are robust enough to cope without our attention 24/7. Plus, I stand by the fact that it’s okay to sometimes say, I’m not okay. I’m tired, I need help, I could do with a break. After all, I want my children to be able to express their feelings as they grow up, openly and honestly. But for the rest of the time, belting out some 80’s classics around the kitchen is a start to making today a good day.

x MMT

How does Mum Guilt affect you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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25 thoughts on “Mum Guilt and Me

  1. Tales From Mamaville (@MamavilleTales) Reply

    Mumguilt is among THE worst aspects of motherhood (along with sleep deprivation, exhaustion and cleaning poonamis and puke). It drains us so, and sucks the joy out of parenting. Breastfeeding or formula feeding; working or a SAHM, not spending enough time with our kids or over-indulging them – whatever we seem to do or not do, it pops its ugly head out! But as you said its ok to not be ok all the time, and we are allowed a break every now and then.
    #coolmumclub

  2. Moonsomnia Reply

    I completely relate to this post. Up until the end of last year, I worked full time and my life was one big bag of Mum Guilt. I had a health issue that forced me to stop working and I thought life would get easier allowing me to be more present and yet then the guilt about being sick and not as mobile consumed me. Now that I’m on the mend, I blog and I’ve started studying (a degree, why oh why did I talk myself into that LOL) and I face more guilt because the little time I have to do these things in is just not enough while they’re at school.
    It’s exactly like you say though, we didn’t have half the things we have today when we were kids and we turned out just fine, never knowing of our own mothers guilt when we were so young. I feel that the most important thing is that they know we are human and not machines, guilt allowed

    Shevy
    http://moonsomnia.com
    #CoolMumClub

  3. Jenny Curtis Reply

    Love your thoughts on this. I reckon if your kids are happy then you should be happy too! I quite often feel guilty about not doing loads of messy activities with my 3 year old, then I think of all the other things I do do with her (and the fact that she has 2 full days at nursery doing messy stuff) and feel a bit better. #coolmumclub

  4. JakiJellz Reply

    I’ve come to the conclusion that Mum Guilt is part and parcel of being a Mum, just like all the other things we deal with on a daily basis. I don’t think it will ever go away, I guess it comes down to how we handle it. And we should be kinder to ourselves, we are people as well as Mums too. #CoolMumClub

  5. someonecallsmemummy Reply

    Mum guilt always hits me worst when she’s asleep and looking oh so angelic! The reality is that we’ll feel guilty no matter what we do I’m afraid! #CoolMumClub

  6. emptynestmummy Reply

    If you don’t feel guilty about doing too much/too little, being too absent/too present, then you don’t have kids. I worked and felt guilty. Then didn’t work and felt guilty as the second one (now in reception) is STILL really clingy and cries for me sometimes. Is that my fault? Is it because nobody else ever looks after her and I’m in her face all day?????
    When you give birth, the midwife hands you the baby. And a big invisible bag of guilt. FACT.
    ..loved the post. #Coolmumclub

  7. The Squirmy Popple Reply

    I think there’s no avoiding the guilt. Whether you work or stay at home, there’s always something that’s going to make you feel inadequate. I feel guilty for looking at my phone too much, for not being more crafty, for feeling relief when I get to go to work sometimes. It’s hard stuff. #coolmumclub

  8. franbackwithabump Reply

    I get mum guilt all the time- for being a shouty mum or a not listening mum. For choosing a clean house over playing with them sometimes. I’m lucky I have a good work/home balance but as always there’s always something we could do better! Thanks for choosing me as post of the week!! #coolmumclub x

  9. viewfromthebeachchair Reply

    We put too much on ourselves. We have good days and bad days. In the long run are we raising happy, healthy, productive citizens? Then that is all that matters. #coolmumclub

  10. motherhoodtherealdeal Reply

    I used to struggle so much with the mum guilt but when that tiny little seed tries to grow in my brain I stamp on it sharpish! We can’t possible be everything to everyone and everywhere at the same time and if we blow things off in order to retain our sanity then I say it’s a good thing! Totally relate to this thought my #coolmumclub huni xoxo

  11. anywaytostayathome Reply

    I think it’s normal to feel guilty, whatever we do, we are never going to win. I’m resigned to that fact. I just try to be present as much as I can. To listen to pay attention. To explain why and when I can’t if I’m working and that’s affecting our time. But I don’t think he remembers stressed me, or snappy me. Yesterday all we did was nip to the shops to buy a pizza and I got him a £1.50 car, then he was set up in front of the TV whilst I was working. After a little while he prodded me and asked ‘mummy can I give you a kiss? To say thank you for my car and my best pizza’ I’d been feeling guilty about him having a rubbish day and it turns out he was in heaven and just happy I was next to him. Kids are resilient. #coolmumclub

  12. Island Living 365 Reply

    We are scarily in tune! I’ve just linked up a very similar post in which I explore feelings of mum guilt. I walked away from my career to be at home with the girls and I now work from home. However, I worry about what message that sends to the girls, and now we have been trying to get a mortgage I have discovered that the bank isn’t too fond of my status either. Argh, it’s a no win! #coolmumclub

  13. Life Love and Dirty Dishes Reply

    Love this Sarah. I think the media feeds so much of our guilt too. We all need to give ourselves a break. Parenting isn’t a one size fits all approach. Of course we want our children to be happy, but we should be for-filled in ourselves too, however that may be. #CoolMumClub

  14. mumneverknows Reply

    It’s relentless isn’t it? I have always been one to feel the guilt but motherhood has taken it to another level. #coolmumclub

  15. mummyhereandthere Reply

    I can relate to this, mum guilt is hard and it is tough going X #coolmumclub

  16. Tubbs Reply

    Mum guilt is the absolute worst! Whatever you do – stay at home, work, something in between – we all feel it. What’s really sad about it is that some of the worst people for making you feel it are other mums!

  17. Charlotte Stein Reply

    I think you have captured quite a few areas of mum guilt. It’s so interesting that out of us are just genetically wired to have mum guilt, although my hubby does have Dad guilt just not as much as me! I second guess everything I do and it tires me out! I really need to work on this. Good to hear I’m not alone and that we need to start tackling the guilt feelings #coolmumclub

  18. kirsty Reply

    Being brought up a Catholic guilt is virtually compulsory 😉 but I must say that I have never felt this so keenly as I have since being a mother. I am always convinced I haven’t got it quite right, but I do try to remind myself no one got a manual when they were sent home 20 mins after giving birth with a baby and their fingers crossed #coolmumclub

  19. Emma T Reply

    I don’t really do mum guilt. Life is too short, and I’ve got confidence that most of what I do is done for a reason and N is mostly turning out pretty well. The only thing is more a regret for me, and that’s that I’ve still not lost my weight because that stops me doing some things that I should be really doing with N. But I’m not sure he’s really noticed thankfully.

    I reckon most of those who feel guilt are those who shouldn’t need to. And those who don’t think about mum guilt (whether feeling it or not) are the ones who probably need to think about their parenting. #coolmumclub

  20. Nicola Reply

    I don’t think I ever felt Mum Guilt with regards to working. I always wanted to be at home, but I think that was more for me than for them! I know they were always well looked after when I was at work and it also meant they got time getting to know my Mum. My Mum guilt has only really surfaced now that my son is a full on stroppy teen! I feel guilty for shouting, I feel guilty for losing my patience, I feel guilty for not liking him a lot of the time. I know it’s only a phase and I remember being that horrible age myself, but it doesn’t make it any easier! #coolmumclub

  21. The Queen of Collage Reply

    Ah mum guilt I know it well. I guess I’ve considered why it’s come about and what I can do to address it. Then put things into place so I don’t feel it so much. #coolmumclub

  22. Musings of a tired mummy...zzz... Reply

    I think parents will always doubt themselves and second guess every decision. I hope my children will have more confidence but I’m afraid I doubt it #coolmumclub

  23. Rachael Reply

    I constantly feel like a rubbish mum and if people ‘really’ knew what sort of parent I was, they’d all judge me so hard! My child has a real habit of falling over and landing on his face. His front tooth has been knocked into all sorts of wonky positions and he usually has some sort of battle scar! #coolmumclub

  24. nightwisprav3n Reply

    When you mentioned one of your girls hardly eats anything, that’s where my mom guilt kicks in. My 11 year old is so picky. Every year he will eat something new and like it but then he’s back to eating the same things over and over again. It’s a big mess and I worry over him all the time. I can’t afford to send him to camp every summer like his friends’ parents can so I try to make up for it by taking him hiking and swimming. Mom guilt is always going to be there I think. We just have to remind ourselves that we are doing the best we can and we are doing a great job. As long as our kids are happy, healthy, and loved, we are doing good:) #CoolMumClub

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