Right Mam's and Mum's... who's suffered with the Mum guilt recently because I'll hold my hands up and say I've just recovered from a really bad bout of it!
Lasses and even lads, this is totally normal for us to feel like we're not doing enough for our kids. It is draining, makes you feel low and in turn the spiral keeps on spinning–don't panic though, ride that spiral like its a park slide and you'll soon reach the bottom with a thump and get over it lol!
Here's mini me with a lovely cheesy grin happy enjoying the simple things in life - the outdoors, she hasn't a clue about the Mum guilt I was feeling!
Why do we experience moments of feeling like we're not the best parent? Well, because our worlds are surrounded by photos of what 'perfect parenting' is, social media filled with images of people 'bossing mam life', yup it's all out there. I have no doubt that 99% of us will experience this crushing feeling at some point in our parenthood journey (maybe even a fair few times!) however, it is vital to know - you are not alone and your feelings are valid. There's even things we can do to help us get down to the bottom of that slide faster. I wish I'd of realised sooner that actually I'm not a terrible mother for having a wee bad spell where I maybe wasn't as enthusiastic as normal. Now though, I can recognise when I'm feeling like this and the important thing, I can do something about it.
So... some juicy news as to why I was feeling the Mam guilt and what I did to get through it.. maybe slower than I had hoped but I'd like to think now I could race down that slide!
What changed - "It actually started to affect my mental health"
I've always prided myself on being that get up and go mum. (by the way I will switch between mam and mum because I have a good number of you northern lasses reading as well as my Scottish followers, hehe) I'm the mum who loves making activities for her little one and providing opportunities for play and exploration. That's just the way my neuro-diverse brain works, I'm super creative and I love it. I think Luna loves it too. We're always on the go, playing different games, splashing water in the garden, visiting parks, you name we're off doing it. However, around the end of May-June I began to suffer major mam guilt. I no longer had the energy to get up an hour before and set the living room up like it was a nursery. I didn't feel well enough to leave the house to go and explore places and some days it was a struggle to get off the couch. It actually started to affect my mental health. I spent a number of days crying because I felt so guilty, worrying that Luna wouldn't be learning anything because she wasn't being engaged in the same ways. I even had a major panic because I needed to take time away from social media and I was convinced I'd loose my audience (totally irrational as you're all still here and I can't thank you enough!) Basically overall, I felt utterly crap!
It wasn't until I began to talk about how I was feeling with others, that I really began to realise how common this idea of mum guilt actually is. I started chatting to others who'd been through the same and I was reassured that 1- it's totally valid and 2- I wasn't actually being a rubbish mum at all! Both of these points are true for you too! You are and always will be the best for your child. Just because you're not enthusiastic and full of life all the time doesn't mean you're not good at being a parent, it means you are real!
Just tell me the juicy news already!
So anyway, I know you've now read that last part and are thinking... you were lacking energy, feeling unwell and very tired...hmm... what does this mean? Did you guess? I'm growing another tiny human!
Cats out the bag now! Yes, Myself, Michael, Luna (Neo, Hattie, Bagel and all the fish) are expecting another little bundle of joy to grace us with their presence in January 2023. Over the moon we are after a lot of heartache, especially suffering a miscarriage at 12 weeks the Christmas just passed. But things are looking fab, we have a very active little 'animal' as we've nicknamed them (Luna's fav Muppet character) and in turn this has lead to me suffering with hyperemisis - major sickness that lasts all day not just the morning!
Now that's that little juicy nugget out the way, you can probably totally see why I was feeling the way I was. At the back of my mind I really knew that there wasn't much I could do in terms of my physical state. I couldn't change the fact I was feeling yucky, yes I had tablets but to be honest they didn't do to much at the beginning but the sickness was here to stay. What I struggled to change was my mental state. Feeling so fatigued played a massive part in my lack of motivation and I really did begin to get on my own nerves. I just couldn't do anything about it. The days would eat me up, I'd find I was waiting for the time of day I could take Luna out in the car for her nap (although on occasions that didn't end to well for me if you join morning sickness and travel sickness together haha!) I was clock watching until Michael came home from work so I could even take 10 minutes to lie down. The amount of times he came home to find me crying because I felt so guilty was unreal. I just couldn't hold back.
That mum that started off as the minimal TV, loads of activities and the get up and go attitude had just drained out of me. By activities I even mean things like colouring or reading a story, even in my best state it's not all fancy dancy Instagram and Pinterest ready activities. I really just couldn't get it into my heads that just being there with Luna, talking to her, letting her bring me toys and make the decisions, was actually more than enough for her. I remember sharing a video about a conversation between myself and Luna and my good friend Julie ( a northern lass!) had messaged me something about how amazing she was developing. I questioned it! I honestly didn't believe in that moment I was being a good mum. Julie, was the right person at the right time for me to contact. She listened to my fears, the hurt I was feeling...my guilt. She reminded me of all the things Luna was learning and that actually, she was going to be just fine.
Right then, at that time, her mum needed to take a little step back. It was like music to my ears. Slowly, I started to be able to tell myself that Luna was OK. She could still grow up to be an amazing human and my couple of months riding down that slide were actually just a grain of sand in her sandpit. I actually found myself looking at Julie's messages when I had bad spells! I now look back and find it fascinating that parenthood can really make us question so much about ourselves. It really is the hardest job in the world but the one we hold closest to our hearts. Honestly, I reckon the majority, if not all of us will experience mam guilt and probably more than once! The important thing to remind ourselves is that, yes we are human, yes our feelings are valid and YES we won't ALWAYS feel like this. Talk to others, share your story, discuss how you're feeling with your partner or close family and friends and don't be afraid to admit you're feeling, well a tad rubbish!
We've got this parenthood malarkey cracked - kind of!
My message to you lovely lot... if you're ever suffering with mam guilt, just look at your child and their smile. Watch them for a moment, see the little cogs in their brains turning and how they explore and problem solve. All of this they do without you holding their hand. Why? Because you raised them. You've been there with them, helped them grow, helped scaffold their development and provided them with more opportunities to learn than you'll ever know. How I know that... because you're reading this blog. You've suffered like I have, maybe you're even suffering now. Please though, promise me one thing, always remember "We've got this parenthood malarkey cracked - kind of!"
Do you know what, none of us are perfect, those grids you see on Insta, the facebook albums of the perfect beach day are only a snippet of what was actually going on. To be fair yes they look great and even I look at them and think ooo that looks ace but what really matters is being their for your child. Taking to them, showing them the roller-coaster of emotions that we feel and not forgetting to be forgiving to yourself. You are real! Why not make yourself an album on your phone dedicated to those moments you need a little pick me up, screenshot messages from friends which lift you mood, your best simple life moments with your child, even quotes which make you feel good.
Our feelings are called eMOTIONS for a reason, they are always moving. Negative emotions will pass and positive ones will replace them. Teach yourself tricks to regain the positives quicker and boom, you've smashed it!
So there you have it... our family is due to get bigger... wish me luck :) x