Monday, 27 February 2012

Mama Guilt

I wanted to write about this topic because I feel I know a lot about it.  And when I say: I know a lot about it, what I mean is: I feel a lot of guilt.  Most of the time.  In fact after Little Warrior was born, I was wracked with guilt for the Polynesian Princess.  I actually said to The Architect “maybe we shouldn’t have had another baby?”  I know.  Crazy, but it’s true.  I felt bad for her because I was cranky, tired and constantly snapping at her.  She was in the way, she was rough with the baby and I felt I just didn’t have time for this.  And yet I knew this wasn’t her fault.  This was all new for her.  Up until then she had been the centre of our universe.  And along comes this squalling baby and he’s part of the family!  Here to stay.   And so the guilt came seeping in through the cracks and poisoned my mental health.

I recounted this story to a fellow mother in my mother’s group and she laughed.  “Oh, there’s plenty of other things you’ve got to feel guilty about, I’d leave that one behind”.  Never a truer word has been spoken.

I felt so horrible about week nine after Little Warrior was born.  I started seeing a counsellor and on my first visit she said to me: "so in the first five minutes, you've mentioned the word "guilty" seven times".  Really?  Did I?  I honestly hadn't noticed.  I felt guilty that we'd had another baby.  I felt guilty that I was constantly annoyed at Polynesian Princess.  I even felt guilty that The Architect had to take some time off work so that I could go and see a counsellor.  I'm sure I don't need to say this, but I will: nobody was doing anything to make me feel this way.   The Architect hadn't rolled his eyes, huffed and said "FINE.  I'll take time off work so YOU can sort out YOUR head".  Oh no, it wasn't like that at all.  My counsellor said to me that guilt is the most useless of emotions.   This Holistic Divorce Counseling website does a lot to clear this point up for me.

Whilst the counselor helped me a lot at the time, I still have bouts of feeling guilty, but I guess that's normal.  Recently I was feeling guilty that Little Warrior didn’t have enough in his social calendar.  The Polynesian Princess had Gymboree, swimming, gymnastics, ballet, sports in the park, playdates, the list goes on.  This was all in the first three years of her life.  On the other hand, Little Warrior has been to one trial session of Tiny Tots at our local PCYC.  One session.  And he’s two.

Enter the Guilt.

Something little, but worth mentioning.  Once I said to my Mum that we had to make another trip to Ikea because we were out of meatballs.  She levelled me with her gaze and said “don’t you make your own meatballs?”  Ummmmmm…no.  I don’t.  Later, I flayed myself with the cat o’ nine-tails that is guilt.  WHY DON’T YOU MAKE YOUR OWN MEATBALLS?  How can you possibly be a good mother if you BUY YOUR MEATBALLS!

A lot of innocent comments can be misconstrued.  I get that.  And with someone who is almost always ready to shrug on the coat of guilt, it doesn’t take much to ignite the flame.   So I understand that I’m a touch sensitive and I try (I do) to take things with a grain of salt.  But all it takes is one bad day of forgetting a few things (school hat, water bottle, library book) and I’m down on myself.  Useless, hopeless, forgetful mother that I am.  How do I possibly manage to get myself out the door, let alone two children AND me!

Of course in those moments I don’t remember all the things that I do for my children.  I won't list them, because like most other parents in the world, the list would be endless.  Suffice to say that they're doing alright, our kids.  They don't want for anything, they have food on the table, a roof over their heads and a loving family.  No.  When guilt is visiting, none of that counts.

The trick is to kick the guilt in the butt and send it packing.  When I start to feel guilty about something, I try to look at what I'm feeling guilty about and if it doesn't make sense (ie the meatballs), I just shrug, give it the mental flick and carry on.  I still buy meatballs because it's a super easy and quick meal and the kids love them.  And I don't feel guilty about it.  I will be signing Little Warrior up for Tiny Tots but I won't beat myself up over the fact that his social calendar isn't as full as his sister's.  I reason with myself that at his age, his sister was in full-time daycare, and he has been blessed with having his mother at home for the first two years of his life.

So take THAT guilt!

What about you?  Have you ever had guilt issues?


  1. What a fantastic post! Love LOVE the bit about the meatballs (um, why would you make them when those Ikea ones are so bloody yummy!?). I recently said to a friend of mine who was feeling bad about a whole bunch of mother-y stuff that my latest philosophy was all about being half-assed. You know there is actual research (don't ask me where) that suggests that when kids are bored (ie. not ferried around town to a billion activities) that they are actaully able to be at their most creative. How else do they have the time to let ideas brew and come to fruition unless they've got large chunks of time to just mooch around and make their own fun? Anyway that's my theory and I'm sticking to it! (Thanks for going out of your way to leave a comment on my blog - much appreciated).

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Mel and I'm sooooooo glad you "get" the meatball thing! I thought about ditching buying meatballs for approx five seconds. And you're right - they ARE bloody yummy. Just on your point about kids being bored. Don't know about you, but I remember Mum dragging us EVERYWHERE. Bank (sitting on the floor, playing with an NAB piggy bank in the shape of a dice), the Post Office, grocery store & the worst one? The material shop. Grrrooooan. And yes - my imagination got a damn good workout sitting around waiting for her to be done. And you just did it. There was no point in me complaining lest I get a flick on the ear or something...


Would love to hear what you think :)