Here’s a sobering thought: no matter how much we love our kids we’re going to mess them up in some way. Here’s the exciting part: every now and then I get a delicious glimmer of hope that I am going to raise wonderful human beings with whom I am going to have an amazing relationship. Then, my heart smiles.
So how do we Mums stop being tortured by feelings of guilt when they rear their ugly head? On a daily basis I have thoughts like:
I don’t play with my children enough… I play with my children too much.
I am too harsh a disciplinarian… I let my kids get away with too much.
I don’t give my kids enough hugs and kisses… I smother my kids.
It’s utterly exhausting!
No matter how hard we try to be wonderful parents, we’re never going to get it quite right. And that, my friends, is where the guilt kicks in. That horrible, crippling mother guilt that we’ve all felt at some time or another… sometimes several times a day. Hey, let’s face it, sometimes several times an hour.
I am getting to know another School Mother as we hover around our sons’ classroom before and after school. The more I get to know Rachel, the more convinced I am that she is a truly wonderful Mother. We were having a chat the other day when she told me in no uncertain terms that there are two emotions she does not tolerate in her life– guilt and regret. Rachel believes they are a waste of energy and that eventually, they will eat you away and destroy you.
Rachel’s mantra is being ‘present’ in every moment of her parenting. When times get a bit tricky she stops to ask herself if she is acting in a way that is true to her, and whether she feels good about it. Later, as she reflects on the incident and the mother guilt starts to kick in, she reassures herself that she acted in truth, to the best of her ability. Now there is nothing she can do to change it, and so she moves on. (I imagine her at this point doing a little mid-air kung fu as she high-kicks that mother guilt into submission). Rachel is the first Mother I have ever met that effectively combats mother guilt and refuses to let it become woven into the fabric of her life. I love that! It is totally awesome.
We are all doing the best we can to be great Mums and to raise wonderful kids who feel safe, loved and happy. Even as I write this, a little voice of doubt has popped up going ‘yeah! Good luck with that, you psycho lady – you should have thought about that objective before you yelled at your kids this morning for leaving the Uno cards all over the floor…’
If we spent less time beating ourselves up for our inevitable parenting failures and faux pars and spent more time praising our efforts in all we do, then not only would our homes be happier places, we would have more peace in our hearts.
Bring it on…