In this world of motherhood/parenthood, we can become defensive when certain questions are asked, we like to explain ourselves and try to justify our decisions as parents. We justify our behaviour, our decisions and why we do things. Mum guilt IS a thing, we all experience it at some point being a mother, so why do we do it? It’s completely unnecessary and we are all doing what we can and what we think is best.
We are forever questioning ourselves, listening to Parent Professionals advice and doubting the decisions we make. We create a rational explanation for things in the fear of expecting the ‘why do you do that?’ answer in return.
“He doesn’t usually have sweets, I only gave them to him because he was a good boy yesterday” Ok, cool. Whether he was a good boy or not, he is your child and a pack of sweets isn’t going to kill him.
I do it regularly, if a family member of mine asks Alfie over the phone “what did you have for dinner?” I listen in complete dread of the reply he will give, he says in delight – “I had chicken nuggets and chips!” Oh f***k. “YES ALFIE, BUT YOU DON’T HAVE IT ALL THE TIME” Actually, he has it often, probably once a week. Why? Because it’s easy, it’s convenient when Holly is continuously screaming and I’m able to quickly shove it in the oven. Why should I feel guilty? And dread being judged for giving him chicken nuggets and sodding chips. Yes, I do try and give him healthy meals, but if I don’t have the time or Holly is driving me to insanity, I will give him something quick and easy.
If I was to ask someone “does she have a dummy?” I’m not expecting some justification as to why you gave your baby one. I always hear “yeah he does, but only at certain times in the day, I didn’t want to give him one but it’s the only way that comforts him” Ok, and that’s fine! Why does it even matter? Alfie had a dummy until he was 3, I was continuously shoving it in his mouth every time he was grizzling for no apparent reason, it worked for us and he was HAPPY. Give yourself a break.
Yes, I’m talking about breastfeeding again (cue the sighs). But what is it with mothers continuously having an explanation for the reasons behind how we feed our babies? I will always say “I breastfeed because I’m lazy!” yes, partially that is true, as well as night feeds being a piece of p***. Actually, I breastfeed because I believe it’s what is best for Holly, but why should I be scared to admit that? at one point I was so sleep deprived, sore and so fed up that I didn’t want to carry on, but it’s the other fear of giving up and the judgement from that which had me carry on, which by all means I’m glad I did.
Mums who formula feed, if for any reason I were to ask you “are you breastfeeding?” please don’t assume I am asking expecting you to reply yes, and if you don’t, assume I will start squirting my breast milk in your face chanting ‘breast is best’, no. You formula feed, cool! You are feeding your baby, surely that is whats most important?
Unfortunately, there is a majority of mums I have met personally who are judgemental, they’re judging me, you and everyone else. Those are the people who create a society of mothers who believe we are doing everything wrong. They’re the reason we say “yes, I’m loving being a mum!” when in actual fact you’ve had the sh**est day imaginable and you’ve wanted to smash your head against a concrete floor, twice.
We need to stop living in fear of those mums, they’re what makes us doubt ourselves and make us paranoid for every decision we make with our children. We have to admit, we can all be a bit judgemental, especially when it comes to other parents. I’m sure you can relate – I can look at a mum and have an honest idea of what type of parent I assume she is, usually I’m wrong. Sometimes, other parents may anticipate what type of parent you are yourself, either they’re right or they’re wrong. No-one knows the insides of how you are as a parent, sometimes not even yourself. A lot of mums must look at me and think what a scruff! If she doesn’t take care of herself, I’m sure she isn’t taking care of her children either!
Whether you chose to give your baby a dummy, decided to wean your baby earlier than advised, whether you formula feed or breast feed, or gave your child junk food for dinner. We are all in this together, and should embrace the world of parenthood together instead of judging or living in fear of judgement.