It is only human to feel guilt and I understand that. I feel guilty when my dog looks at me with big brown and very sad looking eyes telling me, without words, that she wants to go for a walk when I know with one look at my diary opened to that day it won’t be happening. I feel guilty when it takes me two days to reply to a text, but more so I feel guilty that my workload has prevented me from catching up with some of my girlfriends for such a long time. I feel guilty that I continually fail to commit to a regular exercise routine as I just can’t seem to fit it in or am too tired at the end of a long day. I feel guilty when I devour my kids leftovers at dinner time and am so over the guilt felt when I walk past the super fast growing mountain of clothes in my laundry. I can’t sum up the guilt I feel when I think of the last time my children saw their grandparents. I also feel guilty if I press snooze on my alarm and feel guilt around not prioritising date night when it seems that everyone around me is managing to do this with ease.
The thing is, I can live with this guilt because it is temporary and it passes. When life calms down and is less busy I can pay attention to some of these things which are so important and just like magic, these feelings of guilt are gone. But motherhood guilt, that is next level guilt, the mother of all guilts if you like. For me, and many others, it really can be hard to shake. It is always lingering in the background or at times can take centre stage and have a real impact on how my day or even my week will pan out.
As one of the Directors of JustMums Recruitment I am always asked to make comment or provide professional advice on work-life balance and how to effectively juggle parenting and career – our team live and breathe this, advocate for better balance for all mums we work with and given we have flexibility in our roles, mostly, we can practice what we preach. Not always but mostly. When I am asked about how to manage mother’s guilt as they call it, I am however at a loss as I feel it too. It’s always there and it has never left me since the day I became a mum – it has changed a little but it’s most certainly still there.
The guilt I felt when I left my crying baby at childcare could be likened to someone pulling my heart out of my chest and tearing it into two but now that my kids are older, motherhood guilt for me goes something like this;
I always feel that I am a good mum but not a great mum despite deep down knowing and believing that I nail this motherhood thing. I feel guilt around not managing to read to my children every night and about sometimes getting them to bed too late during the week. I feel guilty when I forget to sign school consent forms and more so when I lose them altogether. I feel guilt when I don’t attend the weekly school assembly because I’ve scheduled a work meeting and the guilt I felt when I failed to attend the assembly when my child was being presented with an award was a double whammy. I feel guilty when I scream and shout some mornings in a desperate effort to make sure we get out of the door in time so I don’t miss the train into the city, and feel guilty every time I say “wait just a minute” when one of my children ask for something. I still feel huge guilt around launching JustMums when my children were so young (1 and 3) but wouldn’t change it for the world and love what I do more than any other job I have had – why then would I feel guilty? I’m constantly feeling guilt about not being “present” when my mind ticks over to what I have to do with work or when I robotically reach for my phone to check emails. I even feel guilty about not spending 1.1 time with each child despite spending such quality time as a family. I am completely certain that even if everything was perfect and balanced in my life, I would find something to feel guilty about. I would probably feel guilty for not feeling guilty. It’s also become apparent to me that guilt is a foreign feeling to my husband and he’s forever telling me to get over myself and to simply let it go. In his eyes too I am doing a remarkable job, the kids are fine and he can’t understand this thing we call guilt. I often wonder what it would feel like to be a dad and if my thoughts would be the same.
The thing is I honestly believe I am doing a mighty job too and I’ll challenge anyone that says I am not doing the best I can with the resources I have. My kids are happy and our life too is a happy one. Guilt is mentally exhausting and unhealthy. It is negative and unproductive. Guilt is really just unnecessary. I think it is time we cut ourselves some slack as mums and stop the guilt altogether. Guilt achieves nothing and consumes our time – time better spent on being an awesome mother!
Today I pledge to stop feeling guilty and that’s one thing I won’t feel guilty about.
Today join our team in saying NO to guilt #saynotoguilt