the fact of having committed a specified or implied offence or crime
culpability, guiltiness, blameworthiness, wrongdoing, wrong, wrongfulness, criminality, unlawfulness, misconduct, delinquency, sin, sinfulness, iniquity; responsibility, accountability, liability, answerability
verb: guilt; 3rd person present: guilts; past tense: guilted; past participle: guilted; gerund or present participle: guilting short for guilt-trip
As above, applied to everything Motherhood related
Mum Guilt starts, before you even conceive a child – although you might not recognise it yet, it’s there.
Have you been in a relationship for a while… So, are you thinking about kids yet?
Have you been single a while… Tick tick tick that body clocks a-ticking.
Is your career taking off… oh you’re so lucky you don’t have kids to worry about yet.
Are you struggling to find a career… oh don’t worry dear, you’ll make a perfect Mum you know, best job ever!
Heaven help those who struggle with fertility – cause once you walk down the aisle (or before, or just any time really) prepare to face these questions.
Babies next? Can I hear the Pitter patter of tiny feet…? Will you wait, or start trying now? How many Grandkids are you giving me…? Are you working on that Niece or Nephew…? We need some more cousins in the family…
This is all a form of Mum Guilt, whether we like it or not. You never know what someone’s views are on kids, and shouldn’t assume it’s the “normal” or the “done thing” What if they turn around and said awwwww hellllll naaaawww – I’m allergic to grubby snotty kids. Or, sorry bout it – I can’t have kids, my doctor said it’s less than a 0.1% chance. Thanks for bringing that up Susan (that was me for years)
Then, you get pregnant, and suddenly there’s this big list of all the things YOU CANT DO.
NO soft eggs, NO unwashed salad, NO soft cheeses, NO shellfish, NO cold meats. Limit Caffeine, limit high-fat foods, limit sugar. Limit flying, NO hair dye, NO foot massages, NO hot baths. Ok, so I guess I’ll survive in a bubble, on dust and ice cubes for 9 months then will I?!! Should you partake in any of the aforementioned – please pull in to Mum-Guilt station. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
Next, it’s go time! Baby is coming! D-Day is here!
Epidural – ohhhhh you big fat cheater
Gas – don’t you know that gasses the baby too
Pethidine – you might as well be giving the baby a shot of tequila
Vontuse – Check out old mate cone head
Forceps – Oh make sure you see a baby chiropractor. I’ve had migraines for years because of forceps
C-Section – did you even really give birth?
Water birth – won’t you drown the baby
Home birth – your plaited armpit hair might get in the way. Plus, your Sai Baba incense can’t be good for the baby’s lungs
Drug-free – no interference- vaginal birth… Oh god your so lucky. Wow, you had it easy didn’t you. Far out you know that won’t happen twice aye. Must be cause your so: young/old/skinny/fat/healthy/unhealthy/tall/short/a redhead/secretly a witch.
Now, that’s all a bit of obvious tongue and cheek (see my previous blog post, I had most of these, including out the sun-roof) – but guys – MUM GUILT – no matter what. You’re damned every.which.way.
Everyone suddenly has a severe case of the “one-upper” mine was worse – or better, stories; and every single choice has its fair share of “research” as to why you should or shouldn’t do it. Whatever happens… MUM GUILT in some form or another.
BREASTFEEDING – well. I did a whole blog post on breastfeeding and if you read it, it’s FULL OF MUM GUILT. Even if you are lucky enough to breastfeed, you get guilted for: feeding in public, feeding for too long, not feeding for long enough, feeding to sleep, supplementing, expressing and using the bottle… the list goes on.
BOTTLE FEEDING – One of my close friends really struggled with inverted nipples, constant mastitis, blisters, cracked nipples, you name it. But, she persevered and pumped around the clock so Bubs could have breastmilk – but, from a bottle. She got asked, on more than one occasion (or told rather) ” I hope that’s breastmilk in there” I mean, she could say it was, but why in the world did someone feel they were entitled to ask that?? Worst thing was, it was other mothers every time. MUM GUILT.
FORMULA FEEDING – Formula Mums, I salute you. None of this breast is best, or fed is best bull – we shouldn’t need any justification, to make OUR OWN CHOICES. Of course fed is best, that goes without saying – but why do we need the labels? Why do we have to differentiate and feel like we are defending our choices, and the multitude of reasons that things don’t always go to plan. MUM GUILT. That’s why. You do YOU sister, and, that should be – end of story.
WORK – My son is 10 months old now, coming up 11 months. Which means, the absolute luxury of a 12 month break from work is coming to an end. HELLO MUM GUILT. Guilt for taking the whole 12 months off, heck we couldn’t really afford to be on one wage. Guilt for not being able to take more time off – don’t you know it’s the first 1000 days that are the most important? I’m considered lazy if I don’t work, and in the age of the “career mum” I’m doing myself a disservice if I don’t advance my career. I’m heartless if I do go back to work, that poor deprived child in daycare, or with a Nanny and not his Mum. What is life?! How do I make this choice? Do you think I want to leave this miracle I’ve waited to meet for literally years??? Of course not!
I could go on and on and on. Screen time, sugar, plastic toys, food colouring, disposable nappies, having a girls night or time out from Bubs… HOW DARE YOU.
Mum guilt is like an acidic gnawing in your tummy. It seeps in, and pulls out the thoughts in your head, the “I’m not good enough” thoughts. They entwine with all the self-doubt and all the second guessing you possess and braid their way through your entire being until you are full to the brim with salty guilt and no escape.
Mum guilt is entirely created by the pressure we put on ourselves as a Mum to be decisive. To know what we are doing is right and have unwavering confidence in our own ability. To trust our instincts and outwardly look to “conform” with all the social cues and expectations. It leans on just how much we care about what other people think of us. Society tells us we should breastfeed, and that we should spend 1000 days one-on-one with our children, and this and that, but the reality is that’s just not realistic and it is not one size fits all. Motherhood is not one size fits all.
The sooner you realise that as a Mum, the less amount of shits you have to give, and the sooner you can neutralize that acidic guilt. Know that you will feel guilty at every twist and turn, but take that guilt, accept it, bless it, and move on. There should be no reason our Salty Susan society should have any say in how you feel as a Mum.
It’s so much easier said than done – and if you figure out how to beat it, please, tell me! Write a book, shout it from the rooftops. As always with being a Mum, we’ve just got to figure it out together.