So as you all know (well maybe. #arrogantassumption) I’m a mum of 4. You would think that I have an exceptional amount of mum guilt purely from having a zillion babies and not enough time in the day to give each the attention they deserve however to be honest I don’t. At all. Well that’s kind of a lie. I do sometimes but not very often.
I used to feel mum guilt all the time. It actually peaked with baby #2. What is it with #2 that makes you feel extra guilty? Even giving birth to them makes you feel guilty because your leaving #1? You feel guilty throughout the pregnancy because you can’t pick them up but then you feel guilty that you aren’t appreciating your pregnancy. Then you feel guilty that you’re a shithouse partner/wife because you turn into a psycho dragon when they say hello (well I did, whoops). You also feel guilty because when you do finally give birth you want to get home ASAP and buy presents for the siblings. In fact I even lied about doing the after birth poo just to get home.
Lets not even get started on the guilt for wanting to return to work to have some “me time” or even just to go out without the children.
However let me reassure you that by the time you fall pregnant with #3 the guilt starts to fade. Well it certainly has for me. I never felt guilty when I fell asleep watching a movie with the kids. I didn’t feel guilty when I returned to work, I didn’t feel guilty going out for a night or even a couple of days ALONE. Do you know why? Because looking after yourself ensures that you can look after your family.
I must admit it has also become easier to ask for help. Yet another thing I used to feel guilty about. Now I comfortably ask for help. Asking for help can and will be your saviour. By help i dont nessearily mean a weekend off (although that would be great) it can be a simple as someone helping in the supermarket, with pushing your child on the swing or even a friendly reasurring smile that you’re not alone. I have found that asking for help and offering it to someone can make the world of difference. Even if it’s for a few moments, it can be enough to recharge you.
The more children I have had the more I have learnt about myself. I never realised that I can be so incredibly patient however not at other times. I have learnt that I need to work and get stimulation outside of my 4 walls. With each baby I have returned to work earlier than the last and I don’t feel guilty about this.
Lets also talk about the guilt associated with breastfeeding. Holy shit balls that’s the mother of all mum guilt’s. Well I honestly hated breastfeeding. Yet I felt guilty about not wanting to do it. I asked my husband, mum, doctors and anyone with ears if they feel its ok that I stopped feeding. I hated breastfeeding so much I expressed and bottle-fed my first 3 babies after only feeding for a few days. The thought of feeding and another bout of mastitis terrified me more than the actual labour. However by #4 I honestly didn’t care. She luckily enough was my best feeder and I have only just started to dry my milk up because I want my body back. I also don’t feel guilty about this. So long as the baby is fed and happy does it matter how? Fed is best my friends.
I also want new boobs and again, don’t feel guilty about this…
How’s the guilt that extends to the fathers…seriously as if its not enough to feel guilty about a million things associated with the mini humans you created you then have to feel guilty about not attending to your relationships. I’ve been quite lucky in regards to my husband however I also think this is due to us having done long distance and the fact we only ever spent a few weeks together until we were married and Noah was 6months old #luckilyhedidturnouttobeaserialkiller however after 5years of being pregnant and caring for small children it sometimes feels like its taking its toll. Yet we have both recognised this and acknowledged that dads also get mum guilt (well I guess dad guilt) and that it is incredibly important to prioritise time for each other.
Again I can honestly say that the guilt dramatically diminishes past #3. With the birth of my 4th baby I could’ve stayed in hospital for a week. Just to enjoy that alone time with her. And I did not feel guilty about that at all. I also did multiple after birth poos and lied to say that I didn’t so I could stay longer.
It also took me to my 4th pregnancy and baby to not feel guilty about wanting a certain gender (in my case a girl). However in all honesty my 4th pregnancy was the only one that I genuinely didn’t care about the gender. With my first 3 pregnancies I desperately wanted girls. I was lucky enough to get a girl (however as karma would have it she is a giant tomboy) with #3. Yet it is amazing how many people were quick to say that I shouldn’t want a certain gender. This has always fascinated me. Why is it ok for stranger to tell you they hope that you’ll have a boy or girl yet if you express the same desire you are shamed into yet more guilt? I find it so odd that society will happily say that a pigeon pair is the icing on the cake but if you’re the mother you cant express that desire? What if you only wanted boys or girls? How does it affect anyone else but you? It is odd that you get made to feel guilty about a wish that is out of your control.
To end on a perkier note the moral of my story is that to reduce your mum guilt have 3 or more children (this is an actual joke. My bank balance told me to add that). I am not sure if my guilt has diminished because of experience, maturity or because I literally don’t have time to care about it anymore.
Furthermore you learn to realise that whatever ideals you’ve had will somewhat be achieved but others will not be. This is ok. In fact it should be embraced. There is no perfect parent. Your children also don’t expect perfection. They simply expect you.