I am not a new mother. I have been in the business for almost seven years. I have three boys, 6 1/2, 4, and 13 months. “My Three Sons”……..isn’t that a horror film? No, a situation comedy. I’m living it.

I am surprised at how often I am finding myself feeling guilty regarding my sons (that last horror film comment, for example). It began with pregnancy when any less-than-healthy food choice  I made seemed like it was being sent directly into the virgin body of my unborn child, inevitably damaging my child’s brain development forever. Now there are a slew of other things to feel guilty about– the soothers that I gave my first two sons, the time that my oldest son fell and hit his head on the edge of the coffee table, the multiple ear infections that my first son had because he was in a daycare centre (geez….. it sounds like he was my parenting guinea pig),and the time we made our second son go into the dinosaur room at The Museum of Nature even though he was terrified (not a proud mama moment).

Dinosaur Terror: Not a Proud Parenting Moment (despite the look of glee on my husband's face and the fact that instead of coming to the rescue, I snapped a photo).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I try to remind myself that there is always going to be something to feel guilty about. I am entirely too hard on myself, I am sure. No parenting decision is absolutely perfect. There are always going to be choices that I could make differently. I am not the first, nor will I be the last parent to make similar decisions. I try to act in good faith that I am always putting my children first and that I am trying to ensure that they are healthy, safe, happy, and loved. Then why so much guilt?
 
Reading some facebook threads on various parenting sites has led me to discover two things: (1) there is a lot of guilt tripping, inadvertent or purposeful, going on among mothers; (2) there are a lot of mother’s standing on their soap boxes and not considering that parents have to do what works for their families (there are a lot of families coping with less-than-desirable circumstances). We have seen them all- the anti-circumcism movement, the formula-feeding bashers, the putting down of working mothers, those that admonish crib sleeping families, the rude comments about disposable diaper users. It can be easy to fall into this pattern because, as an attachment parenting mother, you are proud of the choices that you are making for your children. Although I believe in the validity of attachment parenting ideals and movements, I don’t think that their philosophies should be spread by knocking other parenting styles. Every family needs to do what works for them and work with what they are given.
 
We’d get a lot further as mothers if we supported one another. Guilt can be alienating. It can make you feel alone, like you can’t turn to one another to share and ask for support.
 

SuperMom

 
It can be easy to fall into a “Supermom” mentality. I don’t have family close by, so when I have had my babies no one prepared me a meal, ran my vacuum, did a load of laundry, took the older kids to school or to lessons, or watched the kids so that I could grab a nap (except my wonderfully supportive husband……yes, he reads this blog). (Well, “A” did prepare a meal when I had my third child. She also rushed over on the fly when she was like twelve months pregnant with her two children in tow with a breast pump tucked under her arm……da da da daaaaaa…..after a tearful phone call from me…..but that’s another story. Remember, she believes that it takes a village…..but that is the “doula” in her.) You get used to handling everything and you feel like it is like admitting defeat to reach out for any help. You have “mama guilt” if you show any emotion that could be perceived as weakness. It is easier to suck it up and handle it all.
 
Society seems to reinforce this mama guilt, covertly pressuring mothers to feel disappointed in themselves. At the end of the day we are all doing our best and giving whatever we can. No one is perfect. This is one lesson that I will be sure to teach my sons and that I am continually working on teaching myself.
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