The most common thing I hear from all the mums who I talk to is about guilt. Mummy guilt! It is one of the common links between us all – and its not always helpful!
Guilt can be a state, or it can be an emotion – a cognitive process. The definition of guilt is 1. [State] the fact of having committed a specified or implied offence or crime or 2. [emotion] a feeling of responsibility or sadness for some crime, wrong, etc.; remorse. (Macquarie Dictionary, 1990).
It is crucial to distinguish between the two. Guilt as a state is FACT, there is no denying it, it can be measured. Guilt as an emotion is however is more flexible. Emotional guilt can be factual or non-factual. You may smack your child and feel guilty for having performed physical punishment on your child (i.e. the action you feel guilty about is measurable) OR you may feel guilty for putting the children in front of the TV so you can have some peace while you cook dinner.
Ask any mum and they have experienced guilt, regardless of what action or perceived action they feel guilty about the common element is letting their child down by not being a perfect supermum, possibly causing long term harm to their child (whether physical or psychological) or not living up to being the type of mum others think that she should be.
I polled my mums and asked them to email me telling me what they last felt guilty about. You may be very critical of your choices and feel a lot of guilt in your life, but what do you think of what other mums feel guilt of? Are you as critical of them, or do you see no problem with what they did? Here’s a list of some of the reasons for guilt I got:
- Going to work and loving my job
- For sending my daughter to daycare having had a fever in the morning just because I couldn’t stand the thought of having to stay home with her being upset.
- Not enjoying being at home with my kids (as I really love them and love spending time with them but all day everyday nearly sent me insane).
- Letting my children have McDonald’s’ for dinner because it was easier after a late daycare pick-up after I’d been at work all day.
- For not cooking more nutritious meals for my kids (some nights its 2 minute noodles or ham sandwiches because it’s quick and I know they will eat them)
- For not being there to kiss them good night every night because I am in my final year of my Masters of Law
- For formula feeding my babies
- Having a messy house. I just do not have enough hours in the day and I have elected to spend my cleaner money on an overseas holiday every year (which we take the kids with us).
- For fighting with their dad in front of them. My husband and I have a great relationship but we are both busy and tired and sometimes that means we argue.
- For flooding the bathroom (and more!) when I let the bath overflow
- For using the iPad and the TV as distractions do I can have down time
- Yelling at my children at telling them to shut-up
- For hiding the Frozen DVD and then lying and saying I cannot find it rather than having to hear it again
- Making boring school lunches
- Making up answers for questions I don’t know – I don’t know how clouds form!
- Feeling guilty when I lost control of my emotions towards the kids when my hot tempered husband critiqued or blamed me
- That I complement my daughter on her looks too much instead of her personality. Sometimes though she just looks so beautiful I want her to know that
- Forgetting to put my children’s tuck-shop lunch order in as I was rushing and they had no lunch that day – it was also my son’s birthday!
- For bribing my son to do his chores rather than just insisting that he do them
- For the time I am not with them even though I know they are safe and happy and being with them all the time not what I want.
- For telling my daughter she is naughty instead of saying she has ‘bad behaviour’
- Yelling at my husband and my 2 year old son copied me
- Letting my 18 month old eat her lunch in front of the TV so I can have a minute to get the kitchen clean without her under my feet!
- Forgetting my daughter’s antihistamine – again
- For the amount of TV my kids watch but sometimes it’s the only way to get things done.
WOW! What a list! How do you feel when you read these? Recognise some of them? Have you been in the same situation as another mum?
Whats the underlying theme here? Perfection – the belief that mums have to be perfect. Each of these mums are feeling guilty for an action, but that is not the source of the guilt. It is however the fact that they don’t live up to the perfect mum.
Who is this perfect mum? The one who always has nutritious food, no TV, never yells/screams, is always 100% engaged, is a SAHM and loves it OR is a working mum and manages perfect work life balance, has a clean, tidy and organised house and has a perfect relationship with her husband/partner. HA!!
We can’t be perfect, and that is okay. It is fine to strive and want perfection, however it is when not achieving it creates such guilt and negative emotions that it upsets you, your family and stops you from being the type of mum you want to be, then it becomes a problem!
I challenge you to get some perspective – are you feeling guilty over something that is rational or is it because you are not living up to the idea of a perfect mum you have created (who in all reality probably doesn’t even exist!)???
Comment below here, let me know if there is something else you felt guilty about!
Guilt is a big one, if you’d like to have a FREE session with me to discuss how to overcome the guilt you experience then contact me here, call me on 0432936867 or email firstname.lastname@example.org