I have a confession: I have a little nagging devil on my shoulder. Only this devil’s name is not Lucifer or Beelzebub. Its name is Mum Guilt. It’s a malicious, degrading know-it-all with an irritating voice that whispers in my ear telling me that I’m not doing things the way that I should be, that I’m not parenting the “right” way, that I’m allowing my children to do things that they “shouldn’t” be doing and as a whole, that I’m not good enough. It bombards my mind on the daily with thoughts that make me think that I’m a “bad” mum and a “flawed” woman.
Frankly, I’m sick of it.
Today, I’m standing up to that shoulder devil and shouting NOT TODAY, SATAN! Today I’m taking charge. Today I’m going to spew out my guilt like green pea soup all over this keyboard. Today is redemption day.
I’m treating this blog post as a confessional and you, the reader, are my (metaphorical) catholic priest.
Forgive me readers, fellow parents, parenting advice articles and inspo sites because I have really messed up. I haven’t followed most of your advice or gone through with all the tasks that I’ve pinned on your walls.
I haven’t done 90% of the crafts with my kids that I swore that I was going to do. I am not a crafty person. I never was. I don’t have an artistic or creative bone in my body and for that I feel guilty.I don’t feed my kids all organic, I let them eat processed foods and I give them treats at least once a day and for that I feel guilty.
I don’t limit my kid’s screen time and I let them play video games. Most of the show’s they watch and games that they play are educational (except for Battlefront but my 4 year old son is so good at it and it makes me proud) and yet, I feel guilty.
Sometimes I feel like I’m too overprotective of my children yet other times I feel like I’m letting them be too free and that I’m not disciplining them enough and for that I feel guilty.
I feel guilty for not taking them outside more often and for not taking them to more playgroups.
I feel guilty whenever I’m in the kitchen doing the dishes when I should be spending time with my kids.
When I play with my kids I feel guilty about the housework not getting done.
I feel guilty that my son has a sensory processing disorder and anxiety. I feel that it’s somehow my fault and that I either caused it or that he inherited it from me.
Even though it’s a decision that my husband and I made together and we are confident in that decision, I feel guilty about being a stay-at-home mom who doesn’t help support her family financially.
I feel guilty for always… ALWAYS feeling tired and for never, ever having enough energy.
I feel guilty for hiding out in the kitchen when I just want to be alone and not needed for a few minutes.
I feel guilty about not being a “stronger” woman that “takes charge” and who is “self made”.
I feel guilty if I snack too much during the day and for not exercising at night.
I feel guilty for not having myself more physically “put together” and for not getting “dolled up” every day.
I feel guilty for allowing guilt to consume me and for allowing it to alter my reality.
I feel guilty all day… every day…about everything.
But, why? Why does this guilt exist? Where does it come from?
Is it because we as women are competitive by nature? Is it in our DNA to feel constant guilt so that we strive toward betterment?
Or is it because we are brainwashed since our days of reading tween magazines to be “better” than the girl that we currently are? Is it because every form of media geared towards women that act as a “holy grail” for “super women” who want to “have it all” are actually filled with unattainable fallacious contradictions?: “Embrace growing older with this $250 anti aging serum; love yourself because all bodies are beautiful with this 7 day cleanse for dramatic weight loss; turn to page 73 for the best chocolate cake recipe ever next to the full page workout for rock hard abs; be an independent woman who don’t need no man with these 3 sex tips that will make his head spin!”
Have we simply been indoctrinated over time to feel inadequate? Do these fears of feeling “less than” bleed into our lives as mothers since we are also frequently fed confusing contradictions that pertain to parenting?: ” Let your children eat mud but watch out for that cat faeces chemical that can kill them, expose your kids to lots of germs so they build up an immune system and don’t forget to give them their flu shots, you need to nurture your children at all times while disciplining them in a firm matter, let your kids know who’s the boss while also letting them be free to explore and express themselves in their own way, be a natural mom but not granola, be an attentive mum but don’t helicopter, be a strong mum but not a tiger, be a tender mum but not a pushover.”
Our brains are overloaded with an abundance of conflicting information that is dubbed as being “helpful”. In my experience, the only thing that this info has helped with is feeding the guilt devil with more BS to regurgitate into my head.
For me, the mum guilt and the superwoman complex go hand in hand and they feed off of each other like some pervasive symbiotic relationship. What can we do to stop it from eating us alive?
Well, I’m going to start by saying this:
I commend you, reader, and I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you if you showered today; I’m proud of you for feeding your kids frozen chicken nuggets for the 4th day in a row; I’m proud of you for going to work today then coming home to work even more for your family; I’m proud of you if you stayed at home today and taught your child something new; I’m proud of you for trying your best to hold your $#!% together all day long (whether you’re a parent or not).
There is no “Super Mum” who can “do it all” or who has it “all together” and there is no such thing as a “Superwoman” that lives outside of the DC universe. There is only us: imperfect, imbalanced human beings that try harder day by day to be proud of who we are and to forgive ourselves. We need to stop judging ourselves through the eyes of everyone else. It is not through other people that we need to seek absolution. In the crucible of parenthood, as with womanhood, we are our own confessors.
As for me, I’m going to flick that shoulder dwelling guilt devil right into a high speed oscillating fan and start working on commending myself, being proud of myself and most importantly, forgiving myself.
At least I’m going to try.