It was 4am on the 19th December 2017 when it first happened.
I was alone.
Shaking with emotion.
Through blurry eyes, I struggled to see whether there was one or two. I waited. But not for long. Then there it was. Two. Two lines. Two pink lines that were to change my life forever.
The overwhelming feeling of joy was quickly replaced with a massive surge of guilt. A stomach churning, heart pounding surge of guilt. Crap. What about the wine?
I'd drank mulled wine at the Christmas markets the week before. It was only one. But still. It was enough to make me feel like a bad mum already. A feeling that continues to plague me to this day.
A missed vitamin pill. A bar of chocolate. A gestational diabetes diagnosis. More and more guilt.
Why do mums feel guilty?
I remember hearing the term ‘mum guilt’ before I was pregnant but thought it was just a term used for when you didn’t let your little one have an ice cream or skipping a couple of pages of a book so you finish quicker.
Mum guilt is real. When you are pregnant, someone should sit you down and explain exactly what it is. We feel guilty because a lot of us try to do everything and we don't ask for help when we should.
This is me, at a networking event, with Lottie who was 4 weeks old. I am clutching Lottie in one hand and furiously trying to write notes with my other hand. I look at this photo and I feel both so proud and so sad.
So proud that in the craziness of being a new mummy, I was still focused on maintaining my business that I had spent the last 2 years building up. But I feel sad because shouldn’t I have been solely focusing on Lottie?
I’ve been feeling a lot more guilt lately due to Lottie being off from nursery. I had planned such a busy January business wise and all the plans have gone out of the window. I try and steal an hour here and there to catch up with things and tend to start working once she has gone to bed but I feel so guilty.
I’m frustrated. I’m tired. I’m impatient. I’m sad. And then I realise how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful little girl in my life. And then the guilt kicks in.
How to cope with mum guilt?
You feel like you can't do any one thing properly. I am making lunch and checking emails. I am walking to the park and listening to voicemails. I try to be 'present' when I am with Lottie but I know my mind races thinking, what I need to do when I get 5 minutes.
I have lists upon lists. Of all the things I need to do. Knowing that these tasks wouldn't take long if I could just focus on them. But I can't. I sound awful.
I don't want to look back on these days and remember them as being filled with anxiety and stress. Lottie will soon be in school, then high school, then university. I will crave for her attention then and I won't have it. I will yearn for snuggles and she won't be there.
So after much beating myself up, late and sleepless nights and lingering cuddles to make up for not playing with Lottie for the last hour, I am coming to the conclusion that I might be able to do everything, I just can’t do it all at once.
So, I need to stop. I need to take the pressure off myself. I can’t do everything. Something will break and it is so important that it isn’t me. So I am taking each day as it comes. I am keeping my business ticking over at a minimum. I am spending my days doing peppa pig jigsaws, fuzzy felts and watching Frozen and Trolls.
How to overcome mum guilt
I want to extend this little piece of advice to you.
Lockdown is tough.
Homeschool is tough.
Not being able to see family and friends is tough.
Worrying about the future is tough.
Losing loved ones is tough.
But so are you.
I know it is so cliche but it is true. Do whatever you need to do to get through. These times will not define us. This time will pass.
Until then, I hope your coffee is stronger than your little ones.
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