My partner and I were discussing when we should do shopping tomorrow, he wanted to go straight after dropping our eldest off to school but I said I can’t go with him until after I had taken our youngest to playgroup in the morning.
My youngest son has been asking me in his cutest voice for the past two week “Are we going playgroup today?” The week before last I was getting my hair done and last week I was simply to tired to go, so I had determined that yes, this week we would be going back to playgroup. I told my partner I felt the heavy mum guilt about not taking our youngest lately and he laughed at me. He said, “You mum’s get the mum guilt over the most stupid things!” and in a whiny voice he continued, “ooo I feel guilty because I didn’t give my kid his favourite breakfast!”
He was definitely mocking us mum’s, but more accurately me because I am sure I have actually said the exact same thing. I did my best to feign outrage. He continues to say that dad’s don’t get dad guilt and in fact it does not exist. It could be true, there have been a great many posts and memes about how differently men and women approach parenting and the things dad’s do when mum is not looking or around.
But it’s also not true, one of the reasons why he changed job was because working in a seasonal town running a fish and chip shop that peaked in business during the school holidays meant that when we (me and the kids) were off he actually got even busier and we hardly saw him. When our oldest boy started school he realised that his chances to see him grew even slimmer and my partner wanted to be around more. He didn’t want to miss out on this precious time in our children’s lives.
But, unfortunately, in this case he is right. I do feel guilty over the most ridiculous things and it’s taken a long time to put things into a healthy perspective. That,
1. I am not and will never be a perfect parent. I will let the ball drop, I will snap sometimes and occasionally I won’t give my sons their favourite breakfasts.
2. It is always a working process. What worked one day doesn’t necessarily mean it will work on another. I have to flexible and responsive.
3. I have made peace with the fact, that sometimes, I WILL be the bad guy. I will discipline my children and they may have moments where they will look at me as if I am their sworn enemy.
4. That I do get very tired and I forget that if i don’t take of myself, then I cant take care of my family.
5. That this picture is the truth!
But I think what I find really interesting, is that for me the mum guilt is so strong and also really heavy at times. That I feel guilty because I am obviously not living up to a standard that I know can only be achieved through a filter through social media. Only taking pictures of the kids clean and eating their dinner without fussing.
That I am not a fashion forward or trendy mum, but one who like to wear trainers and a backpack. I do at least try to wear something clean, and brush my teeth and hair.
I feel guilty when I take a nap during the day or when the kids are distracted with playstation or playing somewhere else.
However, when I meet other mums, the ones who are honest and love to talk about the reality of family life, I realise I am not alone. That some times that thought of a glass of wine at the end of the day, gets us through. I am not the only one who can’t wait for friday, because in my house it means chicken nugget and chips night because that means I don’t have to cook a healthy and nutritious meal from scratch. That I put off doing house work, because I want to spend time with my family, or actually watch some crap on Netflix.
I love being a mum and I can do without the mum guilt that society puts on me as well. The endless conundrum of whether it’s actually worth being a working parent. Of being torn between childcare costs and wanting to be a productive member of society. But then being a mother is the most productive I have ever been! Aside from actually giving birth, I have had a job while raising children and that is also hard and tiring in a different way. My partner and I had to work in a new way, often tag-teaming.
But I have also consistently worked on my writing and enjoy the benefits of being available to my family. Some look down at me for staying at home, as if that’s the easy option. Some look down on me because I am young mum, at 28 I have a six-year-old and one about to be four.
I have come to realise that someone, or some section of society will always look down on my life choices and particularly, parenting choices. The judgemental looks, the snide comments from family members or strangers when the kids are acting up at home or in public and the ridiculous high standard of the perfect family that often leaves me with that familiar heaviness of mum guilt doesn’t seem to affect my partner in the same way. He has that same thing that most dads have, if they are breathing, have clothes on their back, food on the table and a smile on their face they are fine.
I can’t believe I am going to write this, but I think I might take a leaf out of his parenting book. We do our absolute best for our children and I have to lay down this mum guilt, that makes me (I hang my head in shame in admitting this) compete with other mums, especially the ones I feel are already judging me.
There is a “don’t sweat the small stuff” attitude that my patner has that I am envious of. But then again I am the one who make sure this house runs like clockwork, so….I am not sure if I am ever going to be able to achieve that level of freedom.
Nevertheless, I have two fantastic boys, a partner who is the funniest and most caring father and I have to work on letting more of this mum guilt go. I am going to leave this picture because it makes me feel better and I hope it make you feel better too.