Mummy Guilt

I absolutely love the quote above and can absolutely identify with the author Joslyn Gray, after exclusively breastfeeding Miss M for 14 months, and after exclusively formula-feeding Miss O.

The other morning I was preparing breakfast for the girl's and looked over, and my little wild-child Miss O who is now 11 months old (and zooms around like she was 18 months) and she was eating something that resembled a tomato. Now I know no-one had given her a tomato this morning, and I know we didn't have tomatoes last night for dinner, so I wasn't quite sure where she'd found that (or even if it was a tomato!) If that was my first child Miss M, I'd have grabbed it out of her mouth and practically washed her mouth out (and then scrubbed the floor because 'I can't believe we are living in this mess!') Things change of course with subsequent children (I'm constantly told to 'wait for number 3!') so I sort of shrugged it off, and was happy she was eating a tomato and not a chocolate biscuit!

I could have felt absolutely overrun with 'mummy guilt' for the fact that my 11 month old was devouring with gusto a piece of rouge tomato, but why? Kids are going to eat random things off the floor, and I would rather tell myself that it helps her immune system, rather than stressing about how filthy my house must be (or worrying that it would hurt her). Yes, sometimes it is very unwise to eat things off the floor of places (possibly not a squished grape at your local supermarket!) but since when did we start feeling terrible about every little decision and thing we do as mother's?

I think it may almost be in-built, that when your bundle of joy arrives, that we feel an overwhelming urge to protect our child, and to give them the best. And that's a great attitude and great way to be! But I also think social media has taken our mummy guilt to a whole new level!

We see photos of kids dressed in amazing designer outfits (while my kids are in Kmart tights and a t-shirt everyday)... we see photos of kids attending Pinterest-worthy birthday parties (while other kids enjoy a Woolies cake)... we see kids participating in amazing arts and crafts (while other kids are happy to just colour in a colouring book)... we see kids going on incredible adventures to the zoo and the aquarium (while our kids have to venture outside for an adventure)... we see kids with adorable personalised lunchboxes with incredibly healthy and nutritious lunches (while our kids have a peanut butter sandwich and a piece of fruit)... we see kids in photos all smiling and loving each other (while we're flat out trying to get a good photo out of the hundred-odd we've taken on our iPhone).

Is this real life? You know what, it absolutely can be! Good mums are any mums who want the best for their kids, no matter how that looks! The mum who dresses her kids in designer outfits, creates amazing birthday parties, sets-up incredible arts and crafts for their kids, taking their kids on amazing adventures, packs their kids nutritious lunchboxes and manages to take a photo with everyone smiling - that is one good mum! We should be building her up and encouraging her on social media and in real life. But we certainly don't need to shame her, and feel guilt because the life we see on social media doesn't match how we perceive our lives with our kids.

The mum who dresses their kids in Kmart clothes (me!), quickly grabs a Woolies cake (which by the way taste amazing!) on the way home from work for birthdays, hands her kids a colouring-book and pencils for them to do art and craft, goes on an adventure out the back with her kids, packs a sandwich and fruit for lunch, and has plenty of fun, silly photos of their kids on their phones with no-one looking is a good mum too! What I actually see when I read back over that paragraph is a mum who has dressed her kids, feeds her kids and provides fun for her kids! There's no handbook for being a mum, and we are all trying to do the best we can, in a myriad of different situations and circumstances. Some days have to purely be survival days, because we are tired, or the kids are sick, and on those days, there's no way any of us can have, what we sometimes think, to be Instagrammable or Facebook-worthy photos of our days.

I love the movement happening on social media, often seen with the hashtag #keepingitreal, where parents post the real-life pics of their days: the mess, the tantrums, the pizza for dinner. Weren't these when memories were made for us as kids? I don't particularly remember every meat and 3-veg meal Mum would make us, but I certainly remember when we got Chinese delivered! It wasn't very often, but we really enjoyed it.

I for one have struggled with mummy guilt for awhile, so this post is almost a letter to myself as well. It's a gentle reminder to all of us that no matter how my babies were born, no matter how I fed them, no matter how I dressed them, no matter what kind of party or art and craft I created, or adventure we went on, or what stuff they have, or whether I stayed at home, or worked - I am a good mum!

And at the end of the day, even if we did feed them a nutritious meal that we felt was Facebook-worthy.... they'll be eating it off the floor for breakfast in 2 days time!

[I could not get the girl's to look at the camera when I took this, but I love this photo!]

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