Water Your Own Garden is our way of encouraging you to enjoy moments of reflection, admiration and learning, and to then focus on your own garden…your life.”
“I struggled with people’s perceptions of me as a working mum, when my children were particularly young. Especially as I didn’t have to work – I chose to work. I felt I was always explaining to people my love for what I do and justifying my decisions. But I am proud that my girls are growing up seeing me work, seeing me contribute to our community and our household.”
I was recently interviewed by a mummy blogger and when asked what my biggest challenges were when I set up Hatrick Communications, the honesty of my response above surprised me. And it made me wonder how many other mum’s out there suffer from ‘mummy’s guilt’ when returning to work, or simply as they navigate the world that is motherhood.
This is not one of those pieces that talks about the ‘labour of love’, or complains about how hard it is being a mum (stay at home, or working). I’m not singing our praises as the people who do countless hours of thankless ‘work’.
I’m not writing to make anyone feel inferior, judged or otherwise, nor do I profess to be ‘supermum’ who has all the answers.
What I do want to say to all mums is that you’re doing a bloody good job.
We balance and juggle life, and we do it in our own style, with our own flair, and to the very best of our abilities. I don’t know any mum who deliberately starts out their day to do a bad job.
But the hard thing that I do find is that we are all consumed with some form of mummy’s guilt.
Mummy’s guilt, for me, started before conception! We had some difficulty falling pregnant, just as everyone around us was announcing their exciting expecting news, and I began to feel guilty. Guilty for letting my husband down, and guilty to my unborn, not yet conceived child, that perhaps I had behaved in ways when I was younger that affected my ‘child bearing parts.’
Then, of course, when I was pregnant, there was the guilt of what I ate, what I drank and what I did. Never before had what I put into my body affected someone else!
And the day my beautiful daughter was born brought a feeling of total overwhelming love. But also, strangely, came these intense feelings of guilt, self-doubt and the need to measure myself and my actions against any other mother I spoke to, saw, or read about. Feelings I really had never experienced in my life thus far. I was what most people would label a ‘confident person’. But the feelings were undeniably strong.
Some of the ways I experienced mummy’s guilt in the early days included:
- I tried to breast feed my baby and didn’t have a sufficient supply. I’d had a breast reduction at 18 – mummy’s guilt!
- I returned to work when my daughter was only 8 weeks old – mummy’s guilty!
- She wasn’t a sleeper – well, at night, anyway – and I was sure it was because I didn’t know her routine well enough – mummy’s guilty!
- It took me until she was 6 and 8 months old respectively to get her diagnosed with silent reflux and lactose intolerance – mummy’s guilt in abundance!
I think it wasn’t until my second daughter came along, that these feelings of guilt and self-doubt were slowly replaced with small, but noticeable feelings of confidence. And strangely, instead of feeling like I had to look to the outside world that I knew what I was doing, I gained the confidence to talk to other mums.
I was less worried about being looked upon as less of a mother, and more concerned with getting the right advice (even if that was bits of information from a variety of people, all meshed together to suit me and my family).
I was happy to share my ‘failures’ with my friends, and comforted when I then heard that they had experienced the same ‘failures’.
When I couldn’t breast feed my second daughter, I happily gave her a bottle as I knew that’s what she needed.
BUT, when I decided- no, chose – to start my business and go back to work…mummy’s guilt reared its ugly head again.
I felt like people were saying ‘she’s got two beautiful girls, under the age of 2, and she wants to work?’ No one actually said that to me, but I ‘was sure’ they were thinking it. Funnily enough, now, nearly four years later, people actually tell me how proud of me they are, and how they used to watch me and ‘wonder how I did it’ – but wonder with amazement, not judgement!
I won’t say it hasn’t been difficult juggling a growing business with family life. I won’t say there haven’t been people with ideas different to mine. But I will say that once I started talking to others, and once I started to have faith in myself and my decisions, my mummy’s guilt started to dissipate.
Mummy’s guilt is something that I will always carry, somewhere – we all will. We want to do the best for our children and we unintentionally set high standards for ourselves. But by acknowledging it and understanding that you’re not alone, hopefully all of our mummy’s guilt is kept in check.
I’ve learned to talk with friends, talk to my husband and children, but mostly I’ve learned to trust my instincts and believe in my choices.
So on this Mother’s Day, I wanted to say to all of the amazing mum’s out there, ‘you’re doing a bloody great job.’ Have faith…and always make time to water your own garden.
July 15 2014
August 04 2014
August 12 2014
August 21 2014
May 11 2015
June 09 2015
August 18 2015
September 19 2017
December 03 2017
May 10 2018