It’s a funny old thing, you become a parent and all of a sudden you are no longer your own person, you are a Mother, a Father. You lose a sense of identity but gain a whole new realm of responsibility and love that you didn’t even know was capable.
The love for your baby, your child, is like no other. I have not experienced so much love nor emotions prior to the birth of my wee Eleanor. The best and the worst of myself has been put to light and I see the world from a whole new perspective.
I am not as easy going and care free as I once was and the world is now a scary place through the eyes of this over protective parent. I would like to focus this post on something that I have recently began to notice creep up on shopping trips or days out. A feeling that has rised from within and hits like a tonne of bricks ,a feeling that all you Mothers are well aware of.
Mum guilt. No matter what you do, it simply does not feel good enough. It is a losing battle where we are the sole contender.
Guilt, we all feel it, with the exclusion of active sociopaths, add a baby or child to the mix and guilt is suddenly intensified. What exactly is Mum guilt and where does it come from? It has seemed to appear out of the blue for myself and has prevented me from doing the things that I love and taking some time out for myself. Wether that be a half hour shut away to read, getting out for a lone walk or even (god forbid) having a day of pampering.
No matter what my intention lately, I always have a terrible feeling of guilt hang over my head, ready to exploit my mind with shameful thoughts whenever I dare put myself first. I feel that I have lost a sense of freedom and self worth since becoming a Mum, something which is quite hard to adapt to and take control of.
I no longer deem it acceptable to treat myself, not without fear that I should have treated my baby over myself. Do I need this? I ask myself this often. A shopping trip is short lived, and rather than taking items I pick out to the till, I return them to the rack or shelf which I plucked them from. I feel guilty for wasting money on myself no matter the sum. I could have utilised any spenditure on Eleanor rather than myself.
I find myself anxious of time and feeling bad for dragging my baby out just so I can pick up a carton of milk for myself or browse the stores when I could be at home, holding her, giving my undivided attention. I tend to get out but feel panic and pushed for time, I can’t relax for fear that she will want a feed or begin to get uncomfortable and cry.
Crying is perfectly normal for a baby to get attention and I know I have the security that she is always changed and fed before I take her out, I can’t help but feel unsettled at the thought of her crying in public. I always feel that it’s my fault for dragging her out and that I have led her to be unhappy for my own pleasure. Mum guilt.
I no longer indulge in any alcohol or nights out as I feel that my baby could need me at any time when I am apart from her. I just can’t leave her behind knowing that she is my responsibility and could need me at any time. I have reluctantly left her for no more than four hours with my Mother so that Euan and I can catch a screening at the cinema. This has only ever been around four separate occasions, a month apart at least.
I can’t bring myself to leave her no matter who with or how capable they are. Knowing that Eleanor is so tiny and may need me at any time. I know that my baby is loved and nurtured and with that understanding , I must implicate healthy changes for the benefit of my own health.
I am not just a Mother, I am my own person with interests and needs that I need to fulfill every once in a while. It is important to take time for myself and my own sanity, i owe it to myself to give myself a break without feeling the need to explain and justify my actions.
With that in mind, I am off to the hairdresser next Saturday on a solo outing for a bit of me time and pampering. I am after a fresh dye job and cut, both much needed and long overdue. Oops, blame Motherhood on that one. Free time does not come freely. A trip to the salon may not seem a big deal to many of you, I’d previously not have thought anything of it either but these days a little time out to spoil myself is a rare occasion.
Following this, we are going to see Stereophonics at the end of the month for a parents night out. How dare we? I’m absolutely looking forward to this and an evening out with my love, I fully plan to make the most of being child free, let my hair down and have fun. I have plans to go all out with a glass of wine in a plastic cup and greasy gig chips.
The last time we went to a gig together was back in July and I was heavily pregnant and spent most of the gig nursing a sore back. This time, I can make a better go at it and not retire early. I got this.
I’m sure that my Mum guilt will be in full swing but im going to really try to get myself into a good mindset and forget Mum duties for the night. It will be time for my partner and I to enjoy. Eleanor will be in capable, loving hands, I just need to let go, chill and live a little. If I can push the Mum guilt aside for even just one night, it will be a milestone itself.
I feel that as Mothers and Fathers, we put so much pressure on ourselves to be the best parents we can be, we get ourselves down when something doesnt go to plan or work out as we had hoped and we hold ourselves responsible for any setbacks, the guilt can be too much to take some days.It’s time to start pushing that unnecessary guilt trips that we love to drive down aside and putting ourselves first once in a while.
Book a pamper day, take yourself out for a coffee, set a date for a night out (and follow plans through) and for God sakes, buy the dress. Life is too short to spend it consumed with guilt, we all deserve a break once in a while.
Parenthood is hard, it is testing, it is wonderful. Let’s not be so hard on ourselves, our babies will still love us after a few hours without our company.