I honestly thought that back in the day when I was a young, single, childless woman, that I was hard on myself. I would endlessly beat myself up over situations, actions and behaviours. Silly things like getting too drunk, burning the candles at both ends, eating way too much food, not being slim enough, not seeing enough of my friends. The kind of things that I give zero f’s about now, other than my friends of course.
When the motherhood doors swung wide open, I was not prepared for the mental torcher I would put myself through. Not only have I had to face some demons that I thought were dead and buried, I’ve had to do it with a frickin’ smile on my face and pretend to the world I’m holding it together.
The pressure I have put on myself to be this “perfect” mother to make my children’s lives the best I possibly can, has had me in some zones where I feel like I have forgotten myself.
I have jumped through hoops of fire to make sure that my children are well mannered, well behaved, confident, balanced, loved, loving, cared for, educated, fed well and well supported in everything they do. Like Mother Earth on steroids charging through some front-line battlefield protecting my children from the forces of evil – just call me She-Ra.
But as soon as anything falls out of line then bang… there’s a whole episode of The Walking Dead going off in my mind fighting these crazy zombies that want to attack me. Crazy zombies being the horrendous mum guilt thoughts over the fact I’ve had to tell my child off.
The mum guilt is on a whole new level to any guilt I’ve experienced in the past. It can come from the tiniest thing like slightly raising my voice or not giving them enough goodnight kisses or skipping a gym class because I’m having an anxiety attack. Is that normal?
My confidence took a landslide dive after the birth of my twins, it stayed down for some time and then it began to dig a big hole after the end of my relationship with their dad. So, it’s safe to say I was at an all-time low, I was overweight, single, jobless, friendless (ish) and exhausted. But I had a roof over my head and most importantly, I had my girls.
I have reached rock bottom in various forms over the course of my life but this time was different; it came with two small people who needed me – so in a good way, there has been no time to sit and wallow in self-pity and I’ve had to learn how to forgive myself.
Taking all that I have experienced and in my infinite wisdom, I thought I would share how I practice ways to forgive myself after mum guilt. It doesn’t take the guilt away instantly, but it helps put things into perspective.
1. Remember that in our heads we will reply a negative incident over and over and it will feel like it filled an eternity but really it only lasted a few seconds or minutes. Remind yourself of all the good things you have done and you will outweigh that moment of negativity.
2. Ask yourself “Why did I react like that?” You may reply with something like… “I’m exhausted, I didn’t sleep, I am hormonal, I haven’t had a break.” Often, there will be a valid reason for not being Super Mum in that moment in time. It’s also a good time to access if some self-care is needed.
3. Leading me nicely onto… Practice self-care! I know this can be a tricky one for so many of us as we instinctively find it hard to put ourselves first. Self-care does need to be practised in order for you to be on top form. It’s a chance to re-energise and recharge the batteries. There are 24 hours in a day and there are 7 days a week and somewhere in that day, week or month you need to factor in some self-care.
Have you ever had a day where it feels like you are totally nailing parenting and you can almost taste victory, only for something teeny tiny to happen but enough to cause the scales to tip? It feels like all that good has been undone from one tantrum or meltdown from one of the smalls – oh the pain!
Remember that your reaction is just a thought! Thoughts are in your head and they are not happening live from the big brother house – they are just in your head. You have the chance to let that thought just walk on by, Dionne Warwick style.
Please be kind to yourself.
Light and love
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This article was first seen on Selfish Mother