You are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. My story about ‘mum’ guilt.
It really doesn’t matter what you do, or don’t do – you get mum guilt. Mine started upon conception. I didn’t believe I was pregnant and went to doctors to get a blood test – I couldn’t get the results till the next day. I was SO convinced that I wasn’t pregnant that I drank a whole bottle of wine that night and was very drunk. That was the start of the mum guilt – in fact I hadn’t even considered that this was even a ‘thing’.
Boy, was I wrong!
From then on, I would question myself (as you probably did), should I take folate? Can I eat cheese? Should I massage my tummy/talk to baby/attend classes/read books etc etc etc. This list hasn’t ended…if I am honest – even after 14 years. I still feel guilty.
I changed my whole life for my child after my marriage broke down. I re-trained, changed jobs, reduced my working hours all to spend more time with her. I started my business to have greater flexibility and I managed to drop her/pick her up from school nearly every day. I attended assemblies, sports events (yes I may have taken my lap-top to these, but hey!), went to her school and did reading groups.
She wanted for nothing. We went overseas to Europe twice (UK, Spain, France, Dubai) for holidays, regular weekend camping trips down the coast, hotel stays in the city, trips to Luna Park, and ferry ride adventures to name a few. She is a seasoned traveller as a result. Oh what fun we had! I am smiling/crying as I type this – so many hours playing UNO, singing and dancing together. I did this all on my own as a single mum.
I gave it my best and more. I am as proud as punch to tell you this too.
I let personal relationships slide as she came first. She always came first in any decision I made. Even when I went on courses I ensured she was well looked after by friends (more adventures!) and she told me of all the fun she got up to on those handful of occasions. I knew by increasing my learning it would make me a better mum – so essentially I did all, to be better.
I always wanted to be better, and still do.
I took jobs thinking I could give her more security with a regular pay – but the thought of her walking home alone daily from school changed that. So back to my business I went again – sometimes I had no money. Sometimes I had a heap of money. Rent and bills were always paid – even though I can’t remember how I even pulled it off. In recent years, a few mornings a week we would have breakfast at the local bakery – and chat/hang out. On occasions I would even ‘ring through’ her breakfast for her to pick up on the way (from the bakery) to school if I was particularly busy. Not ideal, I know – you gotta do what you gotta do yes?
I did everything. Yes, you know what I mean – because you are probably doing it too. Housekeeper/cleaner/counsellor/friend/bank/super-mum…and I would even go as far to say I did MORE as I was on my own. Trying to prove a point? Maybe. But in hindsight, I reckon that I was trying to make up for her dad and I not being together.
Did that make her spoilt? I didn’t think so, maybe it did. But really would you do it another way? I wouldn’t.
If I had to do it all again, I would do the same.
I would give her everything she needed – physically/mentally/emotionally all over again.
I would be the great role model that I know I am – all over again.
I wouldn’t change a thing. Or would I?
You know what…? In this process – I lost myself. I cared so much about her that I forgot me.
I lost sight of me.
I lost sight of my basic needs on occasion – as she was more ‘important’.
But. Was she?
Was she more important than me? I am going to say NO to this.
Why? I hear you ask.
Because I am more important than my child. And so are you. If you are not around (mentally/emotionally/physically) then you cannot look after your loved ones. Think about it for a moment.
Does it feel selfish? At first, it did for me. We place so much on the word ‘selfish’ that we don’t want to be seen as selfish, in fact (ironically) we seem to want to aim for martyrdom.
When I look back – I gave it more than my best. In doing so, I was exhausted. What if I had of looked after myself more – what would that have changed?
You are damned if you do. You damned if you don’t.
What if? What a loaded question.
As it turns out – it didn’t matter what I did. She has decided to live with her dad and cut off contact with me – for now. Well that’s what I tell myself. I have faith that I have taught her enough that she will be back at some point. And breathe…
As for me? The last few months have been a mixture of heaven and hell. A mixture of laying on the lounge/sleeping a lot and also having the time and freedom to do more. I also met my partner Matt as things were starting to go downhill and I am blessed to have him (and his kids) in my life.
The mum guilt? I feel it daily. I ask myself questions of ‘What if I did x, y or z…would that change the current outcome?’ I can go for hours/days in this state. Crying randomly and wanting to lock myself away. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.
What did I do wrong?
Nothing actually. I did my very best and more. And still…this happened. It’s hard to remind myself of this at lot of the time, but I feel like I am getting there.
I’ve felt like a fake with my business/books as I certainly haven’t had it together for a while. But I know that I am human – in fact I believe this makes me a better coach to help other mums with their feelings. I have been there and still go there.
Just this week, a friend on Facebook-land posted about how she felt like she was going into the darkness after an emotional situation – and that by going down this path on one level she was holding onto the pain and hurt. Because if she didn’t hold onto this, it would mean that she didn’t care right?
This really resonated with me. On many points. I was also going into the darkness and had recently felt that I could fall into depression. I felt also, that I had to be in ‘pain and suffering’ for something that I ‘may’ have done wrong. Which as you have just read, it doesn’t matter what I did or didn’t do. I was damned either way. So by being in this pain, it meant that I ‘cared’.
But as my beautiful Facebook pal said ‘…holding on to the pain and punishing myself…meant that I stayed stuck and didn’t have the life that I really wanted…I wasn’t just punishing myself – I was in effect punishing my children as well…not allowing their growth either…’
So, so true. By remaining stuck and staying in pain and suffering I am serving no-one. Including my child.
I am also not serving you, my friend. And that is my goal. I want to help as many women with their mum guilt as I can, which is why I built my new website over the Christmas break. Yes, yes, it’s been built for a few months now – but I felt too stuck to talk about it, let alone launch it properly.
It’s called My Time. My Life. Which is for people who have realised that NOW is their time, NOW is their life and they are ready to take control. It’s full of online resources and eCourses, plus eBooks to be used/watched/listened to at any time. Plus there are new courses added monthly.
To be honest, I would have loved for this to be around a few years ago. It would have really helped me with my self-esteem, self-confidence and accountability. Instead I would go around in circles most of the time… this would have given me direction and it would have been fabulous to be able to reach out to someone who has already ‘been there’.
I also know that it’s very hard to realise that you ‘can’t do it all’ on your own. And yes, I get the stubborn part too. I am incredibly proud and I have struggled to ask for help over the years…thinking I could do this all on my own.
And that’s it. You can’t do it ALL on your own. You need love, support, ideas, inspiration, accountability and reassurance that you are doing okay. If you think you don’t, you are in denial in some area of your life. How do I know that? Because I did too!
Please join me on next weeks ‘Mum Guilt Sucks Balls’ 5 day mini-course and learn with others how to overcome and alleviate this guilt. We start on the 1st May and it will take just 5 mins of your daily time to watch the video/listen to the audio…plus you get access to me and others in the group and build your support network.
Check out the following info below on what will be covered:
This is a brief overview of what will be covered.
Day 1 – Its okay to be honest with yourself
Day 2 – Share the burden… your stories of ‘Real Parenting’.
Day 3 – Practical ways to let go of the guilt
Day 4 – Remember yourself and self-forgiveness
Day 5 – Let that shit go
Here is what some of last years participants had to say:
“Mum guilt is a wasted emotion! Spend more time focusing on what you can change with Emma’s program…” Jasmine
“I learnt how to be selfish and not feel guilty about it…my selfishness has paid off and everyone involved is better off for it!” Jess
“It gave me the time and the ok to step back, reflect and look at what’s really important again…” Alisa
To join, head over the event page and use the link to sign up.
It’s only $52 and you get access to all the content for 30 days – plus access to all the other courses on the My Time. My Life. Membership site.
If you choose not to join us – that’s ok. Just know that you are enough, you are damned if you do and you are damned if you don’t.