Mum guilt – the most powerful gut wrenching feeling I have ever experienced. I seem to experience mum guilt whenever I am not around her and seems to peak when I am doing something for myself. In the last couple of weeks I have felt such mum guilt in nearly every decision I’ve made. From deciding on how to feed Amelia to picking a bit of a rubbish pram, leaving her to cry and self soothe to catching up with the housework so she has clean clothes. Not realising she was sitting in a dirty nappy to not doing anymore classes with her as we can’t afford it. Even down to not paying her enough attention while Steve was away and I was super poorly with a cold and chest infection.
For me, the biggest episode of ‘mum guilt’ to date was finding out that Amelia had a cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA). In those early days of motherhood I was powered on tea and Dairy Milk – all of which have milk in it! I think back to all those times that she was writhing around in pain with stomach cramps, throwing up most of her milk and being so sad, and I feel so bad that I caused that. All from giving myself something, it hurt her. I don’t think I will ever really forgive myself for the first couple of weeks and the pain that came with what I decided to eat but I try to take some reasurance that she isn’t in any more pain.
More recently I have really battled with mum guilt over her feeding. We have exclusively breastfed from the beginning. Something I am extremely proud of bearing in mind I only thought I would last a couple of weeks. It was so tough at the beginning and still is now but aiming for my next goal which is 6 months… Just over a month away. Recently Amelia has been on a nursing strike and being so small I have really worried about the effect this will have on her. Multiple times over the last week I have considered other forms of feeding such as exclusively pumping, combination feeding and formula. With Amelia’s cow’s milk allergy we have been prescribed special formula which apparently tastes awful. I have felt mum guilt over my feeding decision for her pretty much since day one but with this nursing strike I feel it has really peaked.
I don’t know if I am the only one but I always get really anxious and have mummy guilt when deciding to seek medical help. I’ve never done this before and it’s all new knowledge that I am armed with so I have to go with my gut. I have this pang of mummy guilt a lot of the time that I should have got help sooner; giving her more than just my love and knowledge.
Social media doesn’t help mummy guilt; in fact it can make it worse. Comparing your parenting style/skills to others who paint this ‘unrealistic’ picture of their lives. It can make you question whether you are not doing something right or you are doing something wrong for your child. The guilt for wanting it easier can be overwhelming that it can overshadow those moments where you are the best you can be, the best your little one needs.
I read a blog post the other day about this very topic and the writer mentions that she has turned round how she sees mummy guilt. She tried to enjoy the guilt as it shows her how much she loves and cares for her child. Feeling guilty about doing a bad job isn’t worrying, it’s when you don’t care that’s the concern. For as long as I have mum guilt I know that I care and I’ll keep on trying to be better for my daughter.
I have to learn to cut myself some slack. Give myself time to recharge and remember all the love I do give her. A friend said yesterday you are all she needs and she is so right. When Amelia is 18 she won’t remember the times I went out for dinner with my friends while she was in bed or the fact that she didn’t go to instructor led swimming lessons when she was a baby. I hope that she will just know she has been so loved.
The days are long but the years are short.. just remember I love you baby girl.