I’ve spoken about this before, but when I hit my early 20’s, I longed for a baby. I had my niece, Mia, to help me deal with it a little, but every time I saw her I ached for a baby of my own. I had the house, the long term relationship.. I felt ready. At 24 when I held that positive pregnancy test in my hand, sure, I was terrified.. But I was also incredibly excited. This was it. After possible the worst nine months following, the best ending came in my Ada.
I spent the next six months spending my days breastfeeding, playing, growing this tiny, little baby into something more. I neglected myself, my work, any of my other relationships, because Ada was my utter and complete focus now. Nothing else mattered except giving this little baby the best possible start in life. So I preserved through 11 months of breastfeeding, even though I had so many times I was ready to jack it all in and down a couple glasses of gin in celebration. And even now, at 18 months old, I have Ada all day five days a week, and most of my days are spent with her sitting in my lap, reading The Hungry Caterpillar, having fake tea parties, planting kisses on her cheek or head every few minutes. I have nothing but absolute love for my little girl, and I hope that I’m doing a good job.
Yet I still can’t shake an uncontrollable feeling of working Mama guilt. And it’s not the feeling of guilt because I’m not seeing my child, it’s feeling guilty because I wish I had more of it. Practically every minute of my days are accounted for. Even those rare mornings that Kane says he’ll get up with Ada and leave me in bed, I get up to work or do house work. I love my job and I love blogging, so not only do I wish I had more time to do both, I wish I had a bit of time to myself, too.
Kane recently booked us a weekend trip to Barcelona for my birthday in October, sans Ada. Instead of feeling excited, I spent the next two hours crying; would she miss me? Will she be okay with her Grandma all weekend? I had a baby to spend time with her, not to pass her off to the nearest relative whenever I want to go have fun. Those thoughts popped into my head immediately, instead of thinking, actually, this is the first time I’ll have left Ada overnight, the first real time off I’ll have had ‘off’ in almost two years of motherhood. The day Ada was born it completed my world, it’s hard to remember that there’s an actual person behind “Ada’s Mummy”, and there is more to my world than my daughter.
This bit is really just for myself to look back over, but if I need reminding, here’s a few things I’ll be telling myself to help deal with my mama guilt:
01. Stop judging yourself. You can’t be a perfect Mother, you can just do your best. No-one is going to suffer from a tea of fish fingers and mash (with a side of veg!) when you want a night off from cooking. An hour of Cbeebies so you can check your emails or have a full cup of hot coffee isn’t going to ruin your kid’s mental development forever.
02. Guilt comes from a good place. The whole fact that you feel guilty, that you’re worried – that means you care.
03. Take more time for yourself. A happy Mama equals a happy kiddo.
04. Remember that you’re setting the example for your child. You’re bringing them up in the real world, where parents do work and they aren’t the centre of everyone’s universe. You’re working to provide for them, and bringing them up as well rounded people.
If you’re a Mama, do you suffer with guilt? How do you deal with it?