G is for guilt
Mothers feel guilty over almost everything. We start even before the baby is born. Are we eating the right foods, avoiding the wrong foods, getting enough sleep, staying fit enough, avoiding coffee? I am sure our great-grandmothers a century ago didn't fuss as much as we do today and I doubt they felt the guilt as we do.
Part of the guilt is comparing ourselves with others. We see other mothers and if their children are smarter, kinder, better behaved, healthier or go to sleep all night by 8 weeks we assume that we are doing something wrong and the guilt sets in. But this is rubbish. What we "see" is often not the truth. It is a bit like blogging. I have never shown you a photo of a burnt roast . . . that doesn't mean I don't burn my roasts, it's just that I am not going to share my failures with you!! Likewise, I am not likely to tell you about the "bad" things my sons have done. Why . . . because as humans we all like to live up to an imagine. As mothers, we want to be seen as "good successful" mothers.
My parenting skills are far from perfect and my children are far from perfect. My sons got into trouble at school, failed tests and I was summoned to see the headmaster on several occasions for misbehaving children. They when through the terrible twos and had tantrums, they when through a stage of not wanting to sleep, they went through a stage of only eating fish fingers. I wasn’t a perfect parent, I lost my temper, I got angry, I was impatient and grumpy.
I worked with a lady who had a perfect daughter (so I was told). She was bright and good. My son was hyperactive. So when we shared stories, I shared only the good, then felt guilty that my son wasn't as clever or as good as hers, so what was I doing wrong?
I did the best I could and I am quite pleased with the end result – the fish fingers didn’t cause any damage, the fact I stopped breast feeding at 6 months hasn’t caused any long term effects (in fact I have 2 very healthy sons), the world didn't end because I use disposable nappies, they are both well adjusted adults considering I have worked most of their lives and they have survived the public school system. All in all, they have turned out quite nicely. Not perfect, but do you know a perfect adult? I don't.
It is important to do what you think is best and not compare your child with other children . . . which only results in guilt . . . and guilt is destructive, creating anxiety and distress.
As blogging women, we need to remember to encourage our sisters, but not to make them feel guilty for doing things differently, as none of us have perfect children or perfect lives. So if you don't homeschool or you work or you feed your child fish fingers for months on end, don't panic . . . the world won't end.
"Perhaps the only criterion to find out whether we have been an abominable mother is whether our children are still coming to see us 20 years later." by Elisabeth Badinter
I no longer feel guilty for the way I brought up my children. I am proud of them, just the way they are. And they love me and I love them. What more could I ask for?