Guilty Feelings Have No Rhythm
This blog post was originally posted on the wonderful Mamazou website.
With Adele recently opening up about how difficult she found motherhood, to begin with, I thought that a little bit of honesty goes a really long way and so I've decided to write about something with which I battle with daily, and probably have most of my life, but having kids has most definitely heightened it immensely. That topic is guilt - Mum guilt, wife guilt, family guilt, friends guilt, work guilt…the list goes on. Since having my children, and more specifically my 2nd child, this guilt has ramped itself up a notch.
Everyone warned me that I would feel it - feel myself stretched between giving two children my attention, but just like no-one can prepare you ahead of having a baby, I have to say, no-one can prepare you for the guilt that rears it’s ugly head when you have a 2nd child. ?As I am preparing to celebrate our daughter’s 1st birthday I am thinking about that guilt even more, and how it clouded so many months of this past year.
In the early months with my newborn daughter, I would fixate on how much my little boy's world had been rocked in such a short space of time. How he went from being given my undivided attention to having to get used to a little sister in his world. One who was with me 24/7 - being held by me, feeding on me, napping on me, sleeping next to me in bed (reflux & intolerance issues meant that we were quite literally attached at the hip the whole time!) Hormones and sleep deprivation made these feelings intensify even further. In my head, this was all HUGE information for a little 2 and a half-year-old to get his head around and it made me so sad. And of course it was a big adjustment for him, but one that he adjusted to smoothly and effortlessly. Fast forward 11 months and my 3 and a half-year-old does not give a second's thought to the round the clock feeding I was doing with his baby sister for the first few months of her life, or the little time we spent together just us. That’s the fabulous thing about toddlers - they live in the present, enjoying each moment and do not dwell on the past. So much time on my part was spent feeling so guilty and so heartbroken by how little time I was spending with my little boy alone, and not enough time was spent thinking about the bigger picture. The fact that he now had a friend for life - and with time I have watched this relationship develop and the guilty feelings have subsided as life as a 4 has become the norm, and brought with it so many magical moments. The more I speak to other Mother’s about guilt, the more I am realising that I am most definitely not alone with these feelings and that there is most definitely nothing to feel ashamed about. I have found speaking about this struggle with my emotions has helped and perhaps by putting pen to paper, it might help others with their guilty battles too.
Then there is the flip side guilt with expanding your brood - the guilt that you feel for not giving the second child the quality time and attention your first child had. I have one MAJOR word of advice to any new mummies and daddies to help ease this a little- be careful what you do for your first baby because you have way less time with the future little people in your life, and if you can’t do the same for them then that good old friend guilt most definitely springs back up again. With the birthday looming, I feel the pressure to give my daughter all that my son has. My son has a lovingly written diary with every moment in his short life being documented in full - my daughter has two entries so far, both of which are incredibly apologetic for not writing more! My son has an album I made him for his first birthday, filled to the brim with pictures all glued in and carefully thought out in terms of layout - I've only just about printed out the pictures for my daughters album and I'm sure by 2020 I may have gotten round to glueing these into some sort of album. My son has a poem about our first year together, I'm so tired I'm not even sure I'd know how to rhyme anymore. When I tell you there is no time for anything, I really do mean this! Perhaps as my little girl gets a little older there will be more time and I can backdate some entries (let’s just hope she’s not reading this in years to come - sorry my sweet girl!)
And on that note, I need to get back to feeling guilty about not sorting out the toy cupboards or my wardrobe and not having enough time in the day for there to be any order in my life! If anyone else is feeling this Mum guilt get yourself some YesMum cards which have really helped me in my darker days. Positive affirmations each day telling us we are doing the absolute best we can do - these helped so much with those pesky guilty feelings. Because the truth is, that is all any of us our doing, our absolute best, and guilt has no home when you are trying your best.