Mum Guilt

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I’m the first to acknowledge that I’ve spent the majority of my life as a perfectionist. An insatiable demand placed over myself, by myself. A desire to be the best, with little room left for my humanness. I never believed I was enough. I could write a whole post on how I have begun to let go of perfectionism in the last few years as a parent and how freeing I’ve found it, but that’s for another day.

This post is for us Mum’s who often don’t feel good enough.

When did ‘good enough’ stop becoming good enough?

As children we welcomed a ‘tick’ on our school work. Little validations in scrawled marks telling us that we met the standard. Good enough used to be good. It used to be enough.

‘Good enough’ has been steam rolled by perfectionism and comparison. Good enough is now substandard. Pah! Who’d want to be good enough when you could be GREAT? We see snapshots of other people’s mothering, and we merge them together into one supposedly attainable ideal of what it is to be a ‘great mum’.

Perhaps it’s the increase in social media. Tiny little Instagram squares feeding this belief that others are mothering better than we are. They are coping better, parenting better. They shout less, cook more, look nicer, never argue in front of the kids, gaze at their phone less, and NEVER ever want to run away and hide in the kitchen with wine.

How come when we compare ourselves to others, we tend to come off worse?

Winnicot was a Psychoanalyst and parenting expert in the 1950’s. He studied thousands of mothers and knew the emotional, physical and mental energy required to raise these small people. He summarised that the way to be a good mother, is to be a ‘good enough’ mother.

Good – acceptable, positive, satisfactory, valuable, worthy, agreeable, admirable

Enough – abundant, ample, sufficient, suitable, acceptable, competent, decent, sufficing

Mother – source, origin, creator

Good enough takes into account our humanness, with all of our failures and our limits. Imperfection becomes positive.

It’s healthy for children to be failed in tolerable ways in the context of relationship with a loving parent. We are teaching them how to survive in an imperfect world that will fail and disappoint. Parenting is a long-haul job, it’s a daily grind. We mother through sickness, highs and lows, sleep deprivation, PMT. We need to have more grace for ourselves.

Guilt fills the void between the mother we think we should be, and the mother we are.

I should be more patient
I shouldn’t be letting my little one watch so much TV
I should be doing more,
giving more,
loving more,
I should be more.
I am not enough

The very fact that we feel this guilt says that we are probably doing a fab job. But perhaps we need to change the language we use.

‘Should’s are aggressively critical, pointing the finger, breeding guilt and stifling action. This language slowly chips away at self-acceptance and worth.

Perhaps the ‘should’s are alerting you to areas for change and tweaks. Turn it into a “hey, let’s grab a book”, an encouragement for action, rather than an an action stifling criticism.

When you offer your children consistent love as a base, no matter what the day holds, or whether sleep deprivation induced impatience leaves you snappy and highly strung (my hand is up here!), or the TV does the babysitting whilst you tear around the house tidying yesterday’s chaos…. you are good enough.

So, beautiful Mum’s. You are enough. You are so enough. It’s unbelievable how enough you are.

x

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  1. Chelle_catherine77
    September 1, 2017 / 7:53 pm

    Wonderful article Anna. I can say have on heart even though my daughter’s 25 and married I still question myself about the kind of mother I was and if I’m still ok at being mum. I brought my daughter with help of my late partner, her own father still seen her at weekends as i always wanted her to know who her dad was. Whether I liked him or not didn’t come into the equation. Thing is when my late partner died suddenly aged 30 it was one of the most difficult things to go through. My daughter was only 9 yrs old at the time and for her to witness something so horrific of watching someone we both loved die before us. Can you imagine, my husband to be the man who loved me and my daughter unconditionally, gone. I felt hopeless as a mum from that night on. Yet my daughter always tells me that she loves me every single day whether text or phone. We are as close as always and it’s taken me a while to realise that i always done what was best for my daughter (even when I had no confidence in myself as a mum ) what more was i expected to do. In such a traumatic experience when I thought I wasn’t doing a great job cos I ended up in hospital with bad depression when my daughter needed me so much, thing was how could I possibly take care of her when all I was capable of was breaking down…. trying not to show ppl how I really felt. Then in the end something had to give. When I think back to that time of great sadness I actually feel a sense of relief and of how proud I was of my daughter wanting to ask all the questions about why did I have to go into hospital ? Why did I cry so much so on and so on. I had 2 weeks out of my daughter’s life but the guilt I felt at the time was immense but there was no other choice my parents kindly looked after her, she would come visit me. Even to this day my daughter thinks I’ve been a fantastic mum and I’ll never forget her saying to me when I came home. ” mummy I’m so Glad your home but I really do understand now why you needed to go away, you needed to feel better so you could continue being my mummy” tears well up in my eyes even to this day. “C’mon mummy everything will be okay we have each other don’t we ” So mum guilt can happen in many circumstances all I knew was I loved my daughter so much from the time I felt her first kick in my Tummy to the moment I saw her beautiful tiny face for the first time. My mum brought myself and my brothers up with loads of hugs, care and tons of love. I know I’ve done a good enough job and that’s all that matters. I gave my daughter all the Love, kindness, caring and protection she needed and that’s what I’ll remain to do with every last breath in my body. We are all good enough mums infact we’re bloody fantastic I say ! It doesn’t matter what your child has if they’re loved unconditionally the rewards are amazing each and every day they grow and learn from you ❤😍❤

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