I have been thinking about this for a while, and I can say with confidence that I have come up with the ULTIMATE guide to avoiding mum guilt:
DON’T HAVE KIDS.
No really, I have tried everything;
- Take stock of all the positives your child has.
- Avoid internalised misogyny and “think like a man”.
- Provide your children with undiluted time on a weekend and during the week. Put away the phone and work.
- Buy them shit by way of apology so they think you are awesome.
- Don’t go to work at all.
- Work more to be a role model and talk to them about how you are bucking social convention with your bad ass mum-bossery.
Yeah, none of that feckin worked so I’ve decided that the only way to avoid that “mum guilt” is to stay celibate, become a nun and marry god but get yourself on the pill JUST IN CASE that fucker tries any miraculous conception shit on you like he did Mary.
Other than that I genuinely think you’re screwed. I’m sat on a train (which I paid £50 extra for so that I could arrive in London an hour earlier than I planned), heading to an event that I have contractually agreed to attend and really want to go to, whilst Daddy is at home with Edith who has one of the worst cases of chicken pox I’ve seen in a while. I feel like the shittest mama on the planet, despite being sent videos of her jumping on daddy’s back and hitting him with NumNom soft toys in what can only be described as the most joyful abusing of the century. Despite knowing that she is fine during the day and it’s really only bedtime that she is struggling with – but so long as she has Super Monsters on Netflix for in the bathtub and Disney movies on the TV, she will be happy as Larry. (Side note, who the fuck is Larry? Why is he always happy?) The girl is FINE, she’s probably having a better time with her daddy because I’m *not* there and giving her an outlet to be mean to him whilst clingy to someone who is trying (and failing) to get shit done. Best of all I have set myself the task of getting to London – which takes 2hours, so not that bad in case you were wondering – to the event and home all before 5pm because I know that she gets clingier as the day goes on.
My husband is the most amazing daddy, he idolises his children and has left work to be with them so that I can do this kind of thing, yet I still feel like I should be there for her. Maybe its self flagellation and I just need to find a way to get over myself?
I really think that with motherhood the guilt comes for 3 reasons
- Social conditioning in a progressed world – as women 50 years ago we would have been at home. Constantly. Society still views child care as very much a woman’s role, so as time goes on, despite becoming more realistic and liberal, we’re still very much in the position where our past social conditioning tells us that we should totally be at home, barefoot, pregnant and caring for the sprogs… I mean, I didn’t even prep dinner before I came out, what was I thinking…
- Sleep Deprivation – I am shattered. Edith woke up every hour or so in our bed last night to roll over and ask me to put her Poxclin mousse on her spots to make her feel better… from 3am it was just constant and I’m feeling the effects. Big time. Didn’t help that her brother, who is stressed to the hilt about fecking SATs waltzed in to our room at 5.20am for a chat, went to play in his room and woke his brother up who can only be described as the loudest human on the planet (no, really, I am putting him in for the Guinness book of records next year… it’s not normal) who decided to come and give us a total rundown of how Pokémon goes and ask Google to put the Greatest Showman Soundtrack on. So yeah, I’m tired and doesn’t everything feel more oppressive and stressful when you are running on coffee fumes and propping your eyes up with matchsticks?
- Mental load – despite Adam now taking over homework – million times better at it than me and it’s made a huge difference to Reuben to have his dad at home with him to devote that time whilst not having to vi for the attention with 2 siblings, 2 dogs, dinner and my emails – he hasn’t taken over the mental load from me, and I doubt he ever will. This is a very small part him but a huge chunk me. I will moan that he still hands me the forms for school, asks me if I’ve called school or spoken to so and so about a drs appointment for Toby, but when I’m not doing those things I will lose my mind and feel even more like I suck at motherhood. Trying to find a balance where I’m not overwhelmed with work and home stuff if insane and, frankly, impossible. I am resigned to having a mental mush for at least the next 18 years.
So yes, in short, I think the only way to avoid having mum guilt is to avoid offspring.
You’re welcome for this insightful mind dump.