It was 4:30pm, and I (Kit) was literally down to counting the minutes until my husband got home. He’d walk in the door, and I’d come close to throwing my irritable 4-month-old daughter at him and bursting into tears. This whole mommying-all-day thing was causing me to become someone I barely recognized.
I was supposedly one of the privileged ones – being given the opportunity to stay at home with my baby, and yet by the time 5pm arrived, I felt anything but privileged.
I so desperately wanted to be THAT mom. The one who thrives off playing on the plat mat with their babe, but the temptation to pick up my laptop (or phone) kept getting the better of me. I couldn’t understand it. I was supposed to be appreciative and here I was, a tearful wreck by 3pm.
Let me give you some background…
I’ve always known that I’m the typical go-getter, I bounce from one thing to the next; thrive off adrenalin, endorphins and busy-syndrome. And yet I somehow thought motherhood would change me. I thought I’d be okay being home with my sweet child – who I genuinely do ADORE!!! And now, I felt like I was failing as a mom.
It took 5 months of this before I met my match. I life coached a mommy in my Digesting Love coaching program – helping her learn to love herself – and yet all I kept seeing surface in our sessions, were MY ISSUES> She was the mommy I was, in so many ways! She knew she should appreciate that she was home with her baby and yet she ran out of steam by the afternoon. She resented her role as housewife, and developed a guilty-mommy-complex too.
This birthed in me a new understanding of capacity.
Capacity is the ability or power to do, experience, or understand something
To be a mom requires capacity, but all of us differ in our capacity to do things. Some have an amazing capacity to love wholehearted, others to host people in their home without expecting anything in return. Some can juggle corporate jobs and mommying, while others have the capacity to practice patience all day long as a stay-at-home mom. None of these are better than another. They are all innate – how we’re wired – and it takes a simple moment to reflect on ME, to know where we fit in.
I hired a nanny (Pru) when Sarah was 3 months old, at first to help with cleaning & ironing but knowing that, in time, she’d help me look after my baby too. We sent Pru on a course that included first aid, stimulation (for babies), routines, etc so we felt very secure leaving our tiny tot in her care.
Two months after hiring Pru, I got home at lunch-time (as I do most days) from a morning spent working at a coffee shop & doing a quick gym session, I took Se for a walk in her pram and then popped to my mums for tea and playtime. When H got home that night, I burst into tears.. Except this time it wasn’t due to exhaustion or my belief that I’d failed as a mom, it was the opposite. I had got home at lunch time to a happy baby girl, I’d got my work done & exercise fitted in, had had a fun afternoon with my babe out and about, and I felt WHOLE again. I’d figured out what my mommy capacity looked like. For me to be a happy mom (and in turn have a happy babe), I need to work in some form, I need to fit in me-time and mostly I need my afternoons with Sarah to be structured – not spent at home playing on the floor.
Fast forward 6 months and I recently coached another mommy who too was being drowned by her mommy guilt, and one of the resounding insights she had during our sessions was that she wasn’t selfish. Learning what she needed to make her a good, happy mom is ultimately what created a happy baby, and a home that her partner wanted to come home to.
There is no point struggling to fulfill a role never made for you. If you need to work to be a good mom, then work, darling. If you find fulfillment from playing with your baby all day, then for heavens-sake, play. If you need structured play-dates to keep you sane, then fill that diary.
Mommy guilt is for mommies who are living under some false pretense that there is correct way to mother a child. Beautiful; happy children are brought up in happy homes. Look after yourself, and your child will benefit more than you realise 🙂