Mummy guilt is real and I experience it on a daily basis in multiple facets of my life. A little tidbit – hubby and I were a month into our marriage when we found out we were pregnant. At the time, I had a year and a half left to complete a grueling graduate program. It felt like a scene straight out of a movie, seeing the pregnancy results. Mental flashes of what I thought life would look like running through my head rapidly. Just like that, a pregnancy test later, I purchased a one-way ticket at the station, boarded the mummy guilt train, and have not looked back since.
Should I have been taking prenatal vitamins prior to getting married?
Do I have the right fitness regimen?
Should we have been more careful to take precautionary measures until we made the decision to start a family?
Did I stop breastfeeding too soon?
Should I have started graduate school sooner?
Is he getting too much screen time?
Are our food choices healthy?
Is he going to be sick because we don’t buy organic all the time?
Will he hate me for being in daycare 8 hours a day because mummy has to work?
Should I be a stay at home mom so I can be engaged in all aspects of my child’s life?
Will skipping a bedtime story last night have a negative impact on his reading and comprehension skills?
I shouted (i.e. yelled) at him for being naughty, will he be emotionally scarred for life?
Am I always shouting at him? Will he turn into a sullen bully?
Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures. John F. Kennedy.
These are some of the thoughts that race through my mind when I assess my progress as a parent. My first and second trimesters had me faced down on the toilet seat more than I could have ever imagined. All medications, food, and remedies I read about did nothing to help my situation. I was consumed and racked with guilt.
As a Nigerian, you are fattened up when pregnant and there I was losing weight while 5 months gone and could not go a day without emptying my stomach contents after each meal. I am so thankful for my ob-gyn who continued to encourage and reassure me during this period. He offered words of encouragement that whatever little food I was able to eat and keep down would be enough to meet my nugget’s required nutritional intake.
A week after having my nugget, I was being driven to school by my husband and father in law. It was the first week of fall semester and I could not afford to skip a beat. Seating in the back seat, my mind was see-sawing from one extreme to other. Are you crazy? You have a newborn at home, why can’t you take a semester off? Why should I suspend my goals because I just had a child? Getting a graduate degree while my brain was still agile was a route to get me there?
Two years later, my little nugget is now a two-year-old. He is a happy child, always smiling, asking me a ton of questions which at times I can’t answer nor understand… lol. This niggling guilt that I have come to accept as mummy guilt is a constant presence.
A second skin, a lingering perfume, an Achilles heel. I have come to welcome these feelings. God entrusted a precious life to me, to mold, to teach to be an asset to himself and his society. As long as I am giving him my best, I can rest a little easy.
Affirmations for times when Mummy Guilt strikes
Your best is enough.
No one is perfect.
There are no perfect parents or children.
The guilty feeling won’t last forever
Spend one on one time with your child
It is okay to take a break/timeout.
Have a circle of like-minded friends to lean on, vent and share experiences with.
The more compassionate you are to yourself, the more love and compassion you will have towards your child.
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