Mum guilt. It feels like the worst guilt ever and is something we are all prone to. I feel fortunate to be able to be a “stay at home mother”, or “SAHM” for the worst abbreviation ever, but still feel the guilt. This morning Wilfred counted to ten, only missing the number five. With his speech quite slow to come in, I was flabbergasted but instead of just feeling immense pride, instantly got the pit of stomach guilt feeling. How long had he been able to do this? Had I completely ignored his attempts before? Why have we not been doing lots of counting and numbers like I did with my first born?
Mum guilt. I don’t work but Wilfred goes to nursery two full days a week. Should I keep him at home? Should he go two half days? Seeing his excitement to see Jess, his key worker, on a nursery day and his immense confidence makes me think I am perhaps making the right decision. When asked who he wants to invite to his birthday party from nursery we get “Albie and Jess”. He’s happy but it wouldn’t be the first or right choice for every mother.
Mum guilt. I am the worst house wife that ever lived, literally the worst, yet this is what my job is and unfortunately for my husband, I can’t be fired or replaced, well not easily anyway without a lengthy negotiation that will ultimately cost him a lot of money. I often wonder myself what I do all day to create more mess and ignore that massive washing pile? The coffee cups in the sink perhaps give the game away but hey, mum chat is sometimes the only thing that keeps us sane after a crazy morning. I admit I feel inferior to some mums at the school gate, their face and hair immaculate with their best work clothes on their amazingly slim bodies, managing to carry a school project done to perfection in one hand, with a toddler in the other, rushing out to drop the youngest at nursery before the morning commute. Their children see a strong, hardworking woman making money for their family. My children look up at my ponytail, slapped on makeup and wet patch on my jeans (from a quick scrub with a baby wipe in the car after noticing a crusty Weetabix hand-print, that may or may not have been from that morning) and I wonder if they internally sigh. I feel guilty that I don’t work and don’t contribute financially to the family. I feel guilty to myself that in many ways I am now only mummy and not Ailsa. I feel guilty that maybe I haven’t reached my full academic and working potential in life. If I leave it until 35, will I feel like Chandler when he retrains in Friends and is treated like a granddad?
Mum guilt for being only mum guilt and not wife guilt I feel bad about. What about my husband and the lack of attention he gets? The possible rejection as I am too tired, full or fat to even consider the “chill” part of “Netflix and chill”. Guilt that I feel I have let myself go. Guilt that I sometimes feel I am failing at every part of this job and don’t even have a career to hide behind as an excuse. I mean who can lose 30 pairs of navy socks and be rushing around in the mornings desperately trying to find a pair that are just about the same shade of navy? Yes, that would be me, the stay at home mum.
Fortunately though, there is normally a little golden nugget thrown your way, beyond the endless nuggets of poo you deal with on a daily basis, to ease the guilt. The nugget makes you think that, though not perfectly, you are doing it right. For me this came in the form of “star of the week” and “star of the day” for my school boy. He was so proud of himself and had shown an amazing level of confidence, talking by himself to the whole school. Sometimes we need the inevitable golden nugget to remind us that we all feel guilty, even the perfect school gate mum and perhaps need to give ourselves a break.