I was looking through one of our family photo albums last night.
I’m so glad that Hubbster took photographs of my growing belly during my pregnancies. (Except maybe that one of me lounging in the bath reading a pregnancy book looking like I have absolutely no belly button at all! I probably could have done without him sneaking up and taking that one!)
It’s funny though. I only have to look at a photograph of me during that first pregnancy and all those feelings come rushing back to me like it was yesterday. The joy (at finally falling pregnant after 1 miscarriage and 18 long months of trying), the excitement, the inexplicable love for the child growing inside me, the daydreams of what life would be like….
…and it is at about this point that I smile wryly to myself, and shake my head at my innocent naivety, because really, there is little about motherhood that has turned out the way I had expected.
You can read all the baby books and pregnancy guides under the sun; you can mentally prepare yourself for the changes that your body may undertake on it’s journey from pregnancy, through to labour and beyond. Haemorrhoids, cracked nipples, more hair/less hair, glowing skin/pregnancy mask or acne, leaky breasts, insufficient milk, backache, bleeding gums,…and on and on it goes.
But very few people will tell you about the new emotion that awakens in you around the same time you feel the intensely excruciating burn as your babies head begins to crown, and between drawing deep drags on the gas and air you begin to wonder if this was all such a good idea after all…You’ve reached the point of no return…and God this gas and air is good….you don’t know how you’d have managed this without out it…but WAIT! What about the baby? OMG OMG OMG! What about the baby? IS THIS STUFF SAFE FOR MY BABY?
At least, that’s how it was for me. I bet if you think back to your first tentative steps into the world of motherhood you’ll see ‘Mother Guilt’ lingering there somewhere at the start, whispering in your ear too.
And so it begins. The endless nagging doubt in the back of your mind, asking you “Did I just make the best choice? Was that meal I prepared nutritious enough? Have I given my baby enough attention/love/food/sleep? Am I selfish for wanted an hour to myself/a few hours alone with my Husband? Why does everyone else look like they have everything all worked out, and I feel like I’m just making it all up as I go along?”
And on and on it goes, a never ending roller coaster ride of emotions, in which you question if the decision you made for your child and for your family was the best one.
Maybe it has it’s purpose, maybe if channeled correctly it is a useful tool pushing us to constantly assess our choices – causing check and balance to our lives. But I think what I have personally come to learn over the course of the last few years, (and trust me, it has taken me a while to get there) is that I have to be mindful that I am in control of the guilt, because if I am not, the guilt will control me.
One of the best ways I know of keeping a handle on Mother guilt, is actually by doing exactly what I am doing now. In fact it was my main purpose for starting this blog almost 3 years ago. Sharing my experiences with other mothers; keeping it real and not sugar-coating it; discussing the feelings, the ups and the downs, and realising that although many of us live different lives, many of our experiences are similar…and there is a real strength that can come from knowing this.
Can you related to any of the triggers discussed in the Bepanthen Mummy Diaries below? What is your biggest guilt trigger? How do you keep those feelings in check?
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post but opinions are my own.