Mummy’s dirty laundry: Day 4 with a dash of guilt

22 Sep

Well this wouldn’t be a week of guest posts by mothers if the guilt didn’t creep in somewhere would it? So here we have it. A big dose of mummy guilt from the lovely Kirrily at Sunny Side Up .

I’ve admired this woman since the first day I read her blog.  We’d bonded over a loss and the feeling of sitting in a cupboard of grief looking outside at a world busying itself around us.

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I feel guilty about feeling guilty

 There was once a time when I could feel guilty unabated. That was before I started writing my guilts out on my blog, where people would cajole and tell me it was okay, that they felt like that too sometimes.

Now, I tend to feel guilty in private. I pre-empt the things that I know instinctively should be causing the guilt and do them anyway.   It’s inherent, inbuilt. It’s over things like letting my child watch 2 or 3 hours of television some days when, hell… I just can’t contribute any more to her life right now, so CBeeBees/ABC for Kids can be the entertainment for an afternoon. The joy on her face when she’s granted this is something I cannot deny – who am I to say no to something that she loves that much?

Who are “they”? The “they” I kept looking over my shoulder for as a new mum? “They” tell me that TV, for instance, is not good for my child. But they leave out the “okay in moderation” and the “it also won’t make your child grow two heads” part, so for the first two years I went into conniptions any time I just had to give myself a break by way of her watching an age-appropriate show on the telly. I ask you… what is more unhealthy?

I don’t even care who “they” are any more. That stopped when I began to hit my stride as a mum when my little LGBB (Lolly Gobble Bliss Bomb)… if you’re not familiar, it’s a delectable Aussie honey-caramel-coated popcorn-nutty thang) – began to show signs of being a really good sort, well raised, kind, caring… and prove that all the hard yakka, basically, was going to pay off. I could see it in how she conducted herself. I hadn’t broken her with my bouts of banshee-like screaming or letting her watch television. She had blossomed anyway, in spite of my stressed-out antics but also because of them.

Why are we, as a modern day species, so caught up on blaming and shaming (ourselves and/or each other)? Do we ever get that blame-shame pointy finger and turn it on ourselves, shining the light on the parenting things we think are surely too embarrassing to admit to? Are we satisfied being blissfully unaware that every judgement and generalisation we make on another’s lifestyle or way of parenting is detrimental to ALL of us?

You know what I did this evening just before the LGBB’s father was due home? I left her, merrily watching the tv, to duck up to the local shops (literally a 25 second drive, but still far enough to make me bristle with terror that “they” would find out) and buy some wine I felt deserving of today. I had spent the entire day bending to the whim of my five year-old darling, someone who makes my heart utterly SING (without her, I would be truly lost….. read my bio to find out why). We baked gingerbread ponies and we watched an episode of the very respectable BBC show, Lost Gardens together. We played Junior Scrabble. We hugged countless times during the course of the day. She cared less if I was home or not as she sat glued to Mr Maker, and she literally pushed me out the door when I said, “Mummy needs to go to the shop” (I left out the ‘bottle’ part, granted).

I had nothing to feel guilty about today. I brought it on myself. Perhaps once we stop being so hard on ourselves and refrain from judging others, “they” might pale into insignificance as a force in our parenting lives.

8 Responses to “Mummy’s dirty laundry: Day 4 with a dash of guilt”

  1. Jem September 22, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    It’s weird, part of my head was thinking “she left a 5 year old alone?!” and yet I know that I had been left alone at that age – walked nearly 2 miles to school on my own not quite 2 years older – and here I am, totally fine.

    It wonder at what point we go from rational people to guilt-ridden judgeypants quick to admonish those around us? Because that’s where the guilt comes from, I reckon – the knowledge that someone, somewhere, disapproves of what we’re doing. Conception? Birth? Or the first mother and baby group where some witch in the corner gives you the evil eye because you’re not doing something her way?

    Sometimes I think that we parents have it in for ourselves. If we’re not beating ourselves up we’re letting someone do it for us.

    • Kirrily October 4, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

      I know! Believe me, part of MY head was thinking the same thing. I guess you’d have to meet my daughter to understand why I was ultimately ok with it… sometimes it feels like she’s the adult (she’s like a matron) and we have to consistently remind her to just “be a kid and play”. It’s so true, what you say: I think we do have it in for ourselves, probably more than other people have it in for us if truth be told.

  2. The Mad House September 22, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    I can not believe that I do not read your blog. Thanks M2M for introducing us. Guilt is the strongest emotion, but I try not to push it on myself. I have learned the hard way, that I need to have low expectations, if they are high and I fail, well then the guilt comes poring in and drowns me.

    I left my 6 year old home alone in bed yesterday whilst I took my 5 year olf to school. I was made to feel like a terrible mother, but he plays outside on his own for longer, what was I doing wrong? Why should I feel guilty?

    • Kirrily October 4, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

      Such a good point! He probably spends time alone outside longer than you took to go to school. I reckon a lot of my guilt was coming/comes from my own high achieving expectations of myself too. I have learned to relax a lot of those (revolving largely around housework and appearances of “having it all together”, which are now lacking!) and feeling much more free for it.
      And you’d be more than welcome over at my blog 🙂

  3. Grace October 4, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    So true. I keep looking over my shoulder too. Thinking that I’m doing this and that. And I should have my wrists slapped for it. Motherhood – such a tough gig. From all angles…
    Powerful post, Kirrily.

    • Kirrily October 10, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

      Thank you, Grace, it wasn’t easy to write let me tell you! Very confronting in some ways.

  4. Dorothy October 10, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    Ahh, guilt, how well do I know thee? Let me count the ways… No, on the other hand, let’s not. Most days guilt stops me doing anything at all…

    • Kirrily October 10, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

      Well, I guess that’s one good use for it, D! x

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