As a parent you’re often reminded of the recommendation where an emergency situation requires that you put the theoretical oxygen mask on your own theoretical face before administering it to the other theoretical person involved. Theoretically.
However, as is so often the case, this idea is always great in theory but much more difficult to put in to practice.
No matter what type of situation you’re in, regardless of whether you work full time, part time or stay at home with the kids, the one common theme we all share is Mum Guilt.
From the second you see those two little lines on the pregnancy test, the guilt has already begun to set in.
Have you been eating well enough?
Have you been exercising too much in the first trimester?
Are the well-being scans going to cause the baby to grow a tail?
Is that boozy night back when you were realistically probably only 3 minutes pregnant going to prevent your future child from getting in to uni?
Then there’s childbirth itself, there’s so much pressure to be drug-free Au Naturel that mothers can tie themselves in knots if they so much as take a sniff of Panadol during delivery.
I was the same. I was going to have a drug free, calm birth with unicorns and mermaids sprinkling glitter on my smiling contented newborn as he made his blissful entrance in to the world.
In reality of course I cried and begged for all the drugs, received an epidural and ended up having an emergency cesarean after 31 horrible hours of hell whilst vomiting in my own hair to deliver a screeching, angry little red thing that I think could best be described as a pissed-off potato.
Fortunately the unicorn remained just long enough to hook up the self-administered Endone to my IV. Great bloke, shiny horn.
I digress though, was my delivery the reason my child has screamed at me for the last four years of his life? Is my pesky, inferior pelvis going to prevent my son from passing his HSC?
The Mum Guilt only worsens though once they’re actually out, you feel guilt for picking them up too often, certain that you’re going to somehow spoil them but feel terrible then that maybe that time they cried for half a millisecond while you were in the bathroom that you’ve somehow ruined them for life.
The first time I ever left my firstborn with anyone other than his grandmothers I cried and cried inconsolably. Never mind that I was pregnant, incredibly sick and being driven to hospital – my precious child was being abandoned by his mother! Meanwhile, he was hanging out at my cousins place where they had already managed not to kill three of their own children and was totally fine but that was beside the point, Mum Guilt screws with your head.
Then there’s the time my husband and I took a flying (literally) trip to Hawaii for a family wedding and I hyperventilated in horror the entire flight over. Turns out the kids had a great old time with my parents and barely blinked when we returned three days later. In fact I’m certain they were disappointed we had arrived back so soon.
Mothers really can’t win, with society pushing at us from all sides to breastfeed, self wean, baby-wear, cry-it-out, spend every waking second with our kids but get back in to the workforce, take our time to bond with our babies but snap back to our pre-baby weight before leaving the maternity ward and the list goes on and on. It’s no wonder at all that more women than ever are finding themselves struggling with post-natal depression and anxiety.
The pressure to be ‘perfect’ is enormous and overwhelming at times and can feel like an impossible feat but the fact remains, the perfect mother simply does not exist and in order to be able to continue to care for our children we need to be able to make ourselves a priority on occasion.
Whether that means:
- Waking up an hour before the kids everyday and enjoying your shower and coffee in peace.
- Handing the children to your partner when they arrive home and taking yourself off to a yoga class.
- Organising a girls night once a month to get away to have dinner and cocktails.
- Taking an online course in an area that’s always interested you.
- Joining a craft circle or a book club if that’s your thing.
- Making sure that you read for half an hour before bed.
- Going to the gym after work with a buddy.
- Doing the grocery shopping by yourself on the weekend and stopping off to get a sneaky pedicure while you’re there!
- Organising with a friend to take their kids for a day to give them a break and then have them return the favour.
Whatever helps to allow you to feel more like yourself and gives you the boost you need to get back to it.
It’s so very difficult but so very important to make sure that you make self-care a priority. Us Mum’s have a hard gig, the stress and enormity of the responsibility can be all consuming and it is imperative that we make sure we are looked after enough to stay on top of our game.
It’s also ok though to fall in a heap, let the washing pile grow legs, let the kids eat Tiny Teddies for breakfast and spend the day watching Paw Patrol repeats in your PJ’s.
There’s no winners or losers just parents trying their hardest to raise awesome little people and one way or another we will and it will be because we loved them through it.
Keep on – keeping on Mummy’s, it’s your turn to take care of you.
Go get your nails done, go find a good book and it’s always 5 ‘o’clock somewhere so, Cheers!
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