May 15, 2019

Mum Guilt and How to Get Over It - Part 2

Hey there!

In my last post, I shared a few ways that I have experienced Mum Guilt since becoming a mother. As a refresher, it is generally defined as "the feeling of guilt, doubt, anxiousness or uncertainty experienced by mothers when they worry they're failing or falling short of expectations in some way." Like I said in that post, a lot of it is in our heads and not based on facts. Today I want to complete the things that have caused me Mum Guilt. In the first post, I covered Breastfeeding, Career, Hair Care, Health and Finances. Check out the other five things below and how I have tried to get over them.

Before I had Cocoa, my husband and I agreed that we didn't want her watching a lot of TV or Youtube. We certainly did not want her having any un-monitored screen time. I think the main reason was that we didn't want to get to the point where she would yell and throw tantrums if we took our phones or tablets away from her. Well, cut to reality and the fact that for a period of time everyday, I need to keep her occupied so that I can get other things done, like shower in the morning, make breakfast for the two of us, etc. There is a measure of guilt, because I feel that I didn't meet my own expectations. And to be honest, sometimes I silently compare myself to other mums whose kids would rather read books or play.

Getting over it: The simple fact is that I need time to do things without having Cocoa cling to my legs or wanting me to carry her. Sometimes, I put on one of her favorite shows on Youtube, or some music videos to dance to. At other times, she plays with her toys. In the mornings, she mostly interacts with her daddy on Facetime. In this day and age, there's no running away from the digital world. I don't think I overdo her screen time regularly, and if I do feel like she's been concentrating on watching something too long, I'll turn it off. Additionally, I have a listening ear or watchful eye at alert to make sure that what she's watching is generally wholesome and educational.

I think this is the one that gets me the most. Being a mother is absolutely lovely... and is also very tiring, whether you're a working or stay-at-home mother. And sometimes you need a break! Sometimes I would like a few hours to myself so that I can be just me, just Berry. And in those times when the thought crosses my mind, there's a nagging voice that says,"Are you not the one that wanted a child? Aren't you the one that went public with your TTC story? Well, now you have a child, so suck it up and be grateful!" Again, the comparison to other mothers rears its ugly head - because if they can juggle a full-time job, a marriage, motherhood, a side business, etc, then why not me?

Getting over it: I remind myself that everyone, even Super Mum, needs a break sometimes. There is nothing wrong with wanting to relax and recharge. If my cup is running on empty, and I'm not taking care of myself, it will be hard to give my best to my child. I remember when I pretty much passed out at work because I was not getting enough sleep, and tending to Cocoa. I didn't ask for help and put my physical well-being in jeopardy. Needing or wanting a break does not mean that I am not grateful for my child. I prayed for her and will forever be grateful. But even God took time to rest!

In my last post, while talking about finances, I mentioned that Cocoa spends majority of her daytime at daycare. On a normal day, she spends almost 9 hours at my chosen daycare. The teachers are wonderful and all, but sometimes, I get this weird thought that they are the ones who are really forming her. She's learned how to say her ABCs at daycare, started using utensils for real at daycare, even being potty-trained there too! It can feel like she's developing outside of me, but I have a good reason for her to be taken care of at daycare...

Getting over it: I can't homeschool my child - and I'm not interested in that option. Cocoa needs to go to daycare, so that I can work and earn an income to support our family. I'm so thankful for her teachers, because they love what they do and they love Cocoa too. As much time as she spends at daycare, she still prefers mummy to everyone else (well, minus her cousins who are her best friends). I'm thankful that they teach and guide her where I can't, and just seeing and hearing the new things she learns is such a treat for me, that I can't feel bad about sending her to daycare.

This is new territory for me, as Cocoa is a bonafide toddler now. She's at the age where she's testing boundaries, saying NO to me, throwing tantrums, etc. When she misbehaves, there's a concern within me that maybe I'm not bringing her up properly. Or even that I'm being judged by others on how I'm raising her. I feel guilty over whether I'm a good discipliner or not. And even when I do try to discipline her, there's a the question of what's the right way to discipline a toddler. At times, I get really frustrated and can't help but raise my voice, and that makes me feel guilty too - maybe I raised it too much, maybe it was more shouting than actual scolding, maybe I'm teaching her that it's okay to raise your voice when you're frustrated. Ugh!

Getting over it: Parenting is a learning process. There is no one way to parent, or even discipline. Different negative actions call for different methods of discipline. I may not get it right at first, but with time, and lots of prayer, I'll find my groove. Have I let some things slip by? I think so, but I can't beat myself up over it too much or too long. Until her daddy comes to join us and we're reunited as a loving family, it's all up to me and I have to constantly remind myself that I am learning with time. 

Thank God Cocoa eats well! I can count the number of times I have had to beg her to eat. Not only does she like her food; she also likes other people's food! I can't eat a bowl of Cornflakes in peace without her running across the room to ask "Ah some!" The part where I feel guilty is when I sometimes resort to getting her fast food. It's not even that often to be honest, but it makes me feel a tiny bit bad that she's not eating a home cooked meal. I also think that I can give her more vegetables with her meals. 

Getting over it: Thank God Cocoa eats well, or else I don't know how I would have dealt with this point. Since she's a great eater, and I don't get her fast food that often, it really reduces the amount of mum guilt I feel. And to balance out that I don't give her a lot of vegetables, she eats lots of fruits. She loves bananas, pears, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, you name it! 

Here's the main point: no mother is perfect. Not your neighbor, family, friend, or favorite mum influencer. What you need to remember are:

  1. Motherhood is a journey and learning process.
  2. Every mother makes mistakes. Learn from yours and others'.
  3. Cut yourself some slack.
  4. Ask for help when you need it!
  5. There's no one way to mother your child.
  6. YOU ARE A GREAT MOTHER. As long as you're doing what works for you and your child is healthy and growing up to be a well-rounded and grounded individual, you're fine. 
I hope you enjoyed these posts. Thanks to the women who reached out to me privately. We're all in this together!

Happy Hump Day.

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