I did not fully understand the true meaning of the word guilt until I had my daughter. It comes hand in hand with parenthood. It is as much a part of me now as my heart beating, my eyes blinking, or the love I feel when I look at Grace. It is sometimes hugely prevalent in the forefront of my mind and it is sometimes just lingering a little, very deep down, but it is always there.
I know at heart that I am not a bad parent. But none-the-less, guilt nips away at my heels like an incessant little gremlim, forever nagging at me that I “could be doing it better.” I look at my parent friends, or other bloggers, and there it is again . . . nip nip nip . . . “they’re doing it better than you.”
I asked other Mothers what they felt guilty about. I asked them to show me in the form of a photograph. I expected a mixture of responses, from the humorous/tongue-in-cheek, to the more heartfelt. The results shocked me: Partly because some of these women I know and deemed to be super-confident parents, surely with nothing to feel guilty about? Partly because some of these women I do not know, yet they welcomed the chance to bravely share things so deeply personal. And partly because I was surprised how many chose to be anonymous and not include their face in the shot.
There was a distinct lack of the humorous/tongue in cheek. I can’t help but wonder what this might imply. . . Maybe that we should never assume other Mums are doing a better job. We are all – for the most part – just doing our best, and that should be something to feel proud of, not guilty about. Maybe we have not “committed a wrong.” Maybe we have not “Failed in an obligation.”
So why do so many of us feel like we have?
Perhaps this last photo sums it up . . .
Is it time we started forgiving ourselves a little more? And if anyone knows exactly how you do that, please let me know.