Having a baby and becoming a parent is one of the most amazing experiences in the world, everything you'd ever imagined, that wonderful moment when you get to hold your precious little bundle of joy in your arms for the first time. Promising to protect them, care for them and love them with all your heart. It's magical, it redefines your definition of love and is one of the best feelings in the world.
Then the reality tends to smack you square in the face after first smacking you square in your vagina. There’s a good chance that the said vagina has been ripped open, your breasts are three times their size and they feel like puberty all over again on steroids, you're forever waking up sticky and saturated in breast milk, AND you still look four months pregnant four weeks later… like WTF???
Fast forward a few years and you realise parenting is a lot different to pregnancy and the reality of parenthood can be completely overwhelming for some. Mum's guilt has set in and sometimes you feel like you are just failing at being a mother and you will no doubt raise a career criminal with a broken moral compass who will be a burden on society… and probably ill-mannered too. Well I would like to tell you that what you’re feeling is completely normal and it’s probable that most parents have felt it at some time.
Let me share with you some of my “Mum Guilt” moments thus far;
I now have all four kids in school, our youngest started prep this year. Previously, the thought of throwing away a piece of artwork created by my first born at school, was the ultimate atrocity. Never would I dream of not keeping all those precious pictures. The vision being that when she was older, we would gather the family around, look back on all the artwork, which would of course be beautifully presented in chronological order and we would reminisce; my daughter would be reminded of the exact days that she created each masterpiece. The guilt started to slip away a little with the second child, more with the third and is now critically endangered with our fourth. Unfortunately, the 100th picture of the neighbour’s cat and the robot made from cereal boxes that required its own seatbelt in the car didn’t make the cut. "Let’s just take pictures of them", my husband suggested; the problem being if Apple catches me unaware one more time, when I’m trying to capture an important memory and tells me that I need to purchase more storage, my phone probably won’t make the cut either. I admit, I do keep the sentimental and precious art works, the one’s that they really work hard on and really catch your eye but I really don't feel guilty about throwing away, let us call them “the countless drafts”. I've learnt to let it go and realise it doesn't mean I love them any less, it just means we’ll get a little longer before we need ANOTHER named box in the garage to dump them all in.
As a stay at home mum for the first few children, I was able to attend all those milestone events from kindergarten graduations, Mother's Day morning teas, being on the school committees and attending assembly every Thursday just in case my child gets an award. Now, as a working mum, it's harder to attend all the events, be there to witness every child get their award and make four batches of brownies, one for each child, for the cake stall that's in three hours that I remembered about 20 minutes ago!!! At the start of the year, I found myself thanking the gods above that three out of four birthdays landed on school holidays!! Not that I don't enjoy baking, just baking and icing cupcakes at midnight doesn’t give me the same warm Betty Crocker feeling.
In the past I felt guilty about having even ten minutes to myself during the day (usually spent hiding in the toilet), for my own sanity I've learned its okay; not hiding in the toilet, taking a little timeout for me. I don't feel AS guilty about spending a day off alone and leaving that pile (or six) of washing and doing something for me to release the proverbial pressure valve a little. The guilt comes back slightly though when that ten minutes turns into half an hour, then an hour of reading blogs, squeezing in a run, checking in on Facebook and Instagram, taking a small nap and oh shit it's time to pick up the kids… Where did the day go?!?!
At the end of the day, my kids are loved and I show them in more ways than keeping their artwork or baking them cupcakes. I'm present as a parent and when it comes to listening, talking and connecting with the kids, I think that's what's important. People can get so caught up in competing with each other as parents and trying to attain and maintain perfect parent status. Parenting can sometimes be the hardest, most relentless and evolving role one can take on and I think we all need to support each other whilst we fulfil this role. It’s becoming apparent that the “it takes a village to raise a child” philosophy is somewhat as endangered as my fourth child’s artwork and some parents are flying completely solo.
Any mum who have seen the 'Bad Mom's' movie should be able to relate, the pressure we put on ourselves can be destructive. Just know that being there for your kids is key.
And you know what, if the one year you get the chance to have all four kids in the one school photo and it doesn't work out because you forgot to fix your son’s bed hair, the middle child still has her pretend cranky face on from some morning crisis, the youngest child is too shy to even show her face in the photo and the oldest is just praying the photo is taken so they can get away from this embarrassment!!! At least it's a memorable photo that can hang proudly on the wall!!!!! The school offered to retake the photo at another time but we thought, you know what..... this is us!
Love, Rosie xx