Ah, mother guilt. Try as I might to stand by my decisions as a mother, I undeniably feel the insidious hands of guilt creeping into my mind at times of indecision or reflection. When faced with so many life altering decisions, for you and your child, is it any wonder we mothers have moments of second guessing ourselves?
Let’s examine shall we?
- Pregnancy – Didn’t take those prenatal vitamins or folate for 3 months prior to conception? Took a winery tour before you discovered you were pregnant, or worse, enjoyed a beverage filled night out with friends the night you conceived your bundle of joy? Eek! What about that slice of brie you just couldn’t resist, or the sweetest slice of tuna sashimi that haunted your dreams for 9 months straight. Guilt, guilt, guilt.
- Birth – The birth plan went something like this: “No drugs, speak only in hushed voices, no interventions, will birth in water, will stay home until the very last minute”. Sure. Turns out the birth plan had a plan of it’s own. “If it hurts this much, surely this baby is only minutes from being born? Off to the hospital we go!” Er, no. 30 hours of stalled labour later, drug free turned into drugged out and my ‘natural’ water birth became an ‘un-natural’ caesarean. The guilt of the potential effects of this procedure on my son, despite his startling alertness at birth, coupled with the guilt I felt in ‘giving up’ on labour, and of my body letting me down, will take years to get over. Add to that the future guilt of not feeling able to contemplate a VBAC for the birth of my next child, well, there’s hours of therapy just waiting to be had! Guilt, guilt, guilt.
- Baby’s First Year – Disposable vs. cloth, co-sleeping vs. cot, breast vs. bottle? I’ll never forget the first time I put a jar of baby food in my shopping trolley. I was sure an alarm would go off and flashing arrows would descend from above, alerting everyone to my apparent inability to mash a banana for my child. I can, and do, but there are days when the only energy you can spare, is that required to open a jar. Not using flash cards with your 3 month old? Bribing your child with the remote or car keys so you can catch an episode of “Grand Designs“? Guilt, guilt, guilt.
For the first 12 months, (hell, how about the first 18 years!), I suggest taping an ‘L’ plate to your back, taking a deep breath and just put one foot in front of the other. Deep down, you know you’re making the right decisions for you and your baby, but it takes a good 6 months to stop questioning them. How much energy must we waste feeling guilty? The reality is that there is no such thing as the perfect mother or the perfect child. Average isn’t a dirty word. We’ve all had a parenting moment that was less than glowing, even the people who won’t admit it. Our babies are only concerned that we love them. That our eyes light up when we see them. Take the energy away from guilt, channel it into love and do what feels right.
Me, I’ll save the guilt for that family size block of chocolate that never stood a chance………..or not…..Guilt, be gone!