If you are new to parenting, Mum or Dad guilt maybe a new and rather unsettling experience. If you are a dab hand at parenting with a brood of little treasures, you will no doubt have encountered it many, many times.
So, what is Mum guilt?
Mum guilt is the supposed, should be and other Mums are. Everywhere we look from, advertising, social media and even friends and family we are guided by all these things. We are plagued by the thought that one false move and we have damaged our darlings forever. Without realising we are taking in all this information about how our children’s lives should be. Before children we could have been assertive, confident, and head strong. Now we question every decision we make and compare ourselves to others.
Sometimes, Mum guilt can be useful. If you feel guilty that your child has eaten more chocolate than vegetables that week, its probably a good indicator that you need to rejig things. It doesn’t mean you should turn to medieval torture to punish yourself for it, but have a kind and friendly chat with yourself to make sure you keep an eye on the chocolate/vegetable ratio next week.
Mum guilt can be horrific and make you anxious and panicky and fall to pieces if things don’t go to plan. This is when you need to check in with a professional to talk things over. Severe Mum guilt can be a sign of Post-natal depression. It should never be ignored.
As I have found out, Mum guilt can be crippling when you are a parent to a child on the spectrum. You are faced at every turn land marks your child should reach, activities they should be doing and you’re just not providing a well-balanced childhood if you are not taking them to parties, a multitude of afterschool clubs and fantastic trips to theme parks. For some spectrum kids this is their image of a nightmare.
You could be faced with Mum guilt for not breast feeding your baby, socialising them from birth or having days when you don’t get out of your pyjamas. You could feel the guilt if your baby has colic or isn’t sleeping well. We are plunged into thoughts of other Mums seemingly breezing though the first 6 months, looking well turned out and babies following the textbook. Chances are things aren’t what they seem, and they struggle just like the rest of us. Mums who may have perfected the “thrown some clothes on and are effortlessly stylish with gorgeous natural make up” may seem smug, but they could have a right to be. It may be the first time in months they have had a day where this has happened for them. They may have spent the last week in the same clothes, covered with baby milk and unwashed hair, and this is their day to shine. They so have a right to be proud and loud.
One thing that is always fact. In my Infant Massage classes, it doesn’t matter what kind of a day you’re having. It could be wracked with mum guilt or it could a day when you shine. You could have it together or turn up in your pyjamas. Your baby could be feeling angelic or devilish. This isn’t the focus of the class. It’s all about together time, for you and baby. It’s about empowering and understanding. It’s about care and friendship. It’s about sharing and receiving advise with other mums.
This also goes for me. With 2 of my 3 children still at home and one being a delightful tantruming toddler and spectrum disorders flying around everywhere, it can be hard to hone the “got it together this morning look” Some mornings I look more like an oompa Loompa who’s wardrobe has vomited on them rather than a chic, professional in control mother of 3. Does this detract from my ability to be a parent or run a class, absolutely not. I have no judgments on people and love to celebrate parents’ successes and support those trickier days.
You may often discover you came with Mum guilt but left with an understanding of how life really is for other Mum’s and what you are experiencing is the norm for all, along with infant massage skills and more understanding of baby to help you through those tricky and challenging days.