Mum guilt. Not only do you give birth to a baby but also to a life long guilt trip.
Starting during pregnancy, the pressure to be the perfect mum takes hold. You read all the books, magazines and online articles and start planning your perfect mum life. Then, you give birth.
For some, the birth itself is where the guilt trip begins. A traumatic birth, one that's not gone to plan or like me giving birth too early will be when the first pang hits and you feel you've failed at the first hurdle.
Then comes the guilt of not breast feeding or following any routines from the fifty book's you've read. There's a pang when you dream of time to yourself, even if it's just a pee in peace. Another pang because you're tired and snappy at your partner and you hate that you are more NonMari than KonMari.
You feel bad for hating baby led weaning and that you are cooking more freezer tapas than freshly cooked homemade food. You feel bad going to work, and even worse, that you enjoy going to work. Then, to top it off, you look on your social media pages and there she is. ‘Perfect Mum’.
’Perfect Mum’ has more than 24 hours in her day. She has the right balance between work and home life. She is successful at EVERYTHING.
She breast feeds, her baby sleeps really well, she cooks amazing nutritious meals and still has time to wash, iron, clean, go out for dinner with friends, shop and apply make up and she finds time to post all of this on her social media pages while she is probably drinking a (hot) cup of tea.
She makes you feel guilty and like you are a failure. Guess what though? She doesn’t actually exist.
The problem is, mums still strive to be like her and set their expectations far too high.
Its not just working mums either. Stay at home mums often feel more pressure to be ‘perfect’ as they don’t have the guilt of leaving their child and because they are at home they are feel that they are expected to keep the house clean and make lovely homemade food.
The truth is though, staying at home with your children is a full time job in itself, getting chores done is a challenge and mentally can be more challenging too.
I don’t think mums will ever be guilt free but I do think they can set their expectations a bit lower.
Ultimately, when you’re child is having a job interview as a grown up, they will not be asked if they were breast fed, bottle fed, baby led weaned, attended baby yoga or if their mother was good at ironing!
So yes, there are benefits to doing things the way you think you should be but it’s also perfectly ok not to do them.
It is however, ok to admit when you’re struggling and ask for help. I don’t just mean from a mental health aspect but in life in general. Often, our partners are unaware of our need for perfection and assume that we have everything in hand so it can be helpful to lean on them and ask that they share the load with you.
Talking with other mums, you soon realise that we might not all be ‘Perfect Mum’ but we are all perfect at being imperfect.
All you can do is you’re best and most importantly, just be a mum.