It’s been a while since I have written on my blog, mostly because I have been busy writing other things but yesterday I had a breakfast date with a friend and we ended up spotlighting a huge issue for us both – Guilt.
The first time I wore my mummy-hood was just over 8 years ago. My son was born 5 weeks early by complete surprise and within moments of him being born I met with guilt for the first time. I had failed to keep my son safe in my womb until at least his due date. Guilt 1 – Me 0. Not long after, guilt took his second swing at me when my son refused to latch on. Since the first day of motherhood guilt has tried to wrap his greasy hands around me and sometimes, I admit, I allow myself to get sucked in. The feeling boils up inside my gut as I hear my own thoughts blaming me for all the things I ‘failed’ at in life. Shouting at my kids over stupid things, ‘letting’ one of the small ones fall over and hurt themselves, making my kids go to school even though they claim they don’t feel well… all of these things and much more shoot through my mind when I allow guilt to talk over the rational voice inside my head.
I’m going to be really honest here, guilt guided me into wanting a second child so soon after my first. We started trying for our second baby a year after our son was born. I felt guilty that my son had no-one to play with and I felt guilty of all the things I had done wrong in his first year of life. I hadn’t picked up on his intolerance straight away and the guilt of having post-natal depression made me think completely irrationally…. what if I have another baby so he has someone to confide in when I f*ck up? What if I give him a sibling so he has someone to play with when I’m too tired to play with him? I thought that by having another baby I would win the battle against guilt. I could do things differently with my second baby and I would also be giving both children a tremendous gift of a sibling to love – thus undoing all the guilt that had consumed me up until that point. I expected that guilt would take his cruel, unforgiving hands from around my neck and stalk some other poor soul.
Oh, how wrong I was.
So after I had my daughter I was somewhat more prepared for being a new mum. She was born early at 37 weeks but in the eyes of the midwives she was full-term so phew! guilt loosened his ugly grip. My daughter also breastfed for a short time so again the grip eased a little more… but after a short time I noticed my newborn was getting a lot more attention than my toddler from strangers because of how small and cute she was. Crap. I didn’t account for that. Guilt was around the corner waiting for his chance to pounce. I felt guilty if I had some time to myself, or some one-on-one time with my oldest or if even if I booked a babysitter so I could spend time with my husband. I felt guilty for sometimes liking one child more than the other in a situation – IE. If my son was being an angel in the supermarket and my daughter was having a tantrum, in that circumstance I stood there and thanked God that one of my children was behaving – then I felt pride for that one child before eyeing the other up and wondering what I did in a previous life to deserve this little demon….
My children are now 8 and 5. Life is a bit easier but guilt is always standing a few feet away just waiting patiently to drop a little bomb of regret. Over these last few years I have realized something. Guilt is normal, he is your everyday guy just wandering around trying to do his job. Like love and fear, this emotion, although rendered useless by many, has a purpose. Over the last few years I have formed a mini friendship with guilt. When I feel guilty about something I have done I take my time to analyze it, understand it and learn something from it, then I blow it away… because letting go of guilt is important too.
See, Guilt has been stalking me for years and he will stalk me for years to come. Guilt is gripping, I know that well so I would never tell anybody to flippantly let it go without trying to understand it first. What I do think though is that every guilty feeling you have can be a little bit enlightening and you can learn something from it. You feel a pang of guilt for calling in sick for work because you simply can’t be asked to go in – then simply don’t do it again. You feel guilty for not spending enough time with your family, then when you do spend time with your family make sure you vocalize how happy you are in that moment. You feel guilty for going to work and leaving your kids in childcare, then make sure when you get home you give those beautiful babies extra cuddles to relieve that guilt just a little bit but then let it go, you have done enough and you are enough. Guilt is pointless if you hold onto it – BUT if you are holding on to guilt ask yourself why. Is it worth it? What can you do to relieve it? If you feel you may have done something wrong then own up to it but if you have done all you can then in the words of the great Queen Elsa just Let It Go. Say goodbye to it and wait for the next bout of guilt to kick in and when it does, approach it, deal with it and then bat it away.