26 February 2011

mother guilt - why it's a waste of time

Greetings all,
i've been pondering an angle on this topic for a while, i loathe the expression 'mother guilt' & i think it's a complete waste of time.  You do what you do as it's best for your family, so why feel guilty about that.  Who are you comparing yourself to & do you think they are judging you anyway??  No one knows your real, true, honest home life - if you're a working mother, or at home, or combination of both, whatever, it's each to their own.
Do your children suffer??  Just ask, they'll tell you & it might give you a chance to explain the situation so they understand better.  If you work you might miss an open classroom/ concert, if you're at home you might not be able to afford piano/ karate lessons - i'm sure they'll still grow up to achieve great things in life, regardless of the damage you might feel you're doing in the moment. 
My situation, we live a simple life so i can be a housewife (10 years & counting), i have the education & could work in well paid fields, but i LOVE being at home with the children, i'm the constant parent as my husband is away so often.  We have chosen Canberra schools & stability over moving to Brisbane with my husband for 3 years, that might sound insane & unimaginable, but my husband is going back to war, he can focus on training & he'll be away regardless of where we live.  I have been drawing an income from my design business for a decade & it's been a financial life saver.  I'm lucky i can fit it all in, i'm hyper organised & family comes first, especially with teenagers on the horizon.
On to mother guilt - wow, first up, i refuse to let my husband have father guilt as he is providing for our family & i won't bang on about servicemen, but his sense of responsibility is incredible.  I encouraged him to join the Army, everything we do it a joint decision.  He is a fantastic hands on husband & father when he's home, it's quality parenting, no guilt required. 
So based on my situation, because it's my blog . . . i'm a housewife, my children know if they forget sports gear/ homework/ show&tell/ assembly/ canteen/ concert/ carnivals/ excursions/ class craft/ reading/ sick bay - i'm willing, able & available to be there (& remind them about responsibility).  Sounds like i'm one dedicated mother right??  I used cloth nappies, breastfed, made organic food; taught them to swim, count & the alphabet; first steps, words, teeth, immunisations; i bake, grow vegetables, sew; i haven't missed a minute.  We've had zero hiccups with health, sibling rivalry, moving houses, bullying, academics - i talk to them, nurture them, listen to them, cuddle them, read to them, love them.  A+ parenting??  I thought i was pretty close, until this enlightening converstaion with my first born today . . . made me think 'perception is reality, but by GOD i'm going to adjust her reality for her'.  
Children have selective memories so go toss that guilt you're holding on to, they either don't care or won't remember what you missed or the effort you put in.  
My eldest daughter is off to her first high school swimming carnival, they apparently dress up.  I pulled a vintage T from my collection which is perfect for the 'theme' (considering she’s swimming, I thought it pointless to go in full costume) & she asked if she might get in trouble with the Tshirt effort.  I said, “I’ll be there if there are any issues”.  Well, cue the brewing-teenage-angst . . . “you’ve never come to a swimming carnival before”.  Sorry WHAT??  I have been to EVERY SINGLE athletics, cross country, concert, special assembly & swimming carnival EVER.  To me it’s the whole point of being a stay at home mother, you are available for every event, dress in team colours, pay your entry, sit in the seering heat or freezing cold, then leave with exhausted children wrapped in towels or blankets, times 4 children.  Alas, I’ve never seen our eldest swim at a carnival??!!
I volunteer/ marshall at these events & you follow the programme so you can watch your child race . . . she's forgotten that i've been there to cheer her on & hug her wet body when she finishes each race!!  Huh??  Last year as mother of the house captain i made pom poms & took balloons, i fended off buying junk food from the on site canteen for her friends & took home stray children for an impromtu sleepover - nup, all forgotten!!
FYI as i write this post she's at her *boy-friend's house, i sent her off with freshly squeezed orange juice & homemade cookie dough icecream, what a terrible mother!!  
So i'm going back to how i judge myself as a good mother - i always feel pretty superior & satisfied when we have a full fruit bowl.  That's my standard.  Love Posie
*I say boy-friend, he's a lovely boy from her primary school who she has always hung out with as her number one choice of friend on weekends, it's in that a-friend-who-is-a-boy way, 'tis all.  

25 comments:

Make mine Mid-Century said...

Posie, I'm laughing. Only because it doesn't matter what you do as a mother, your children will always blame you for something! I still blame my mother for lots of things, and I know I shouldn't because she's a human being. And none of us are perfect, we just do the best we can.

You're doing a great job. Don't get too upset about what your daughter says, she loves you. She's just being human too.

You're doing a wonderful job.

Taylor Made said...

Great post ..thanks for sharing it!

Cherry Red Quilter said...

Oh I feel your pain - apparently I have failed in all the same ways as you - according to my kids - so can't wait till they have their own!

Naturally Carol said...

You are so right..our children only remember a little bit of it anyway..some of the hardest stuff happened before they could remember! The rest of it they can't remember straight 'cos they were never thinking of us..only themselves and their own tiny world. So sometimes they get a bit older and start filling in the gaps with a story or two I think!..so why feel guilty? Your own conscience is the best measure...be honest with yourself.

Frog, Goose and Bear said...

Hilarious.
I so agree with the mother guilt comments - it is just not worth it!! We do the best we can in the situation that we're in and as long as we have the basics covered - ie making sure they are loved and fed - the rest really isn't worth the pressure we sometimes put on ourselves. I look back now and couldn't be more grateful for the amazing job my own mum did, knowing now how full on this parenting gig is. Your kids will most definitely do the same when looking back on their childhoods!



P.S. I find a full fruit bowl quite satisfying also - doesn't stay that way for long though!

Posie Patchwork said...

Thanks for the comments ladies, she got home (around 11p.m.) & i read the blog post to her, she shrugged & said "i didn't mean it harshly, i just couldn't remember". See, it's true, they fill in the blanks & it's all from their angle (thanks Carol!!)
Wishing you all guilt free parenting, love Posie

A Country Wife said...

What a gorgeous post Posie! I'm certain that children have selective memories. Your daughter may not recall everything you do for her now (and wow, what an incredible contribution you make!!) but when she looks back as an adult she will be extremely humbled by what an amazing mum you are.

I know I do with my mum. For some reason I just expected everything from her as a child, after all isn't it just what mum's do? I'm slowly learning....!

Kylie said...

Smiling here cause this is so going to be me in a few years:) lol at the shrug off from her (this blog post may be a good one to pullout for her 21st or when she has her own children. Bless her cotton socks. I hope her first high school swimming carnival goes well. We have just completed our first preppy home project. It was so nice working on something as a family with Amelia

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Very funny ;) You sound like a great mom!

CHD said...

I love your posts and your honesty. Made me smile. Cx

Betty Jo said...

As the mother of a teenage daughter...one minute I am the best parent and the next, well you get it!
And do you know you have just made Me feel guilty as I don't have a full fruit bowl on my table at the moment.....sigh

quilary said...

This brought back many memories for me as a stay at home mother. I could cry and laugh with you at just about every situation you mention!
I'm sure there's a chapter in the "Kids Handbook" (they have it in their head) that's titled "How to make your parents feel guilty every minute of the day"
I understood that they would forget everything that I've done as Mum because let's face it, for teens, it's what in front of them RIGHT NOW that they only have perception of!
Now I sometimes overhear them talking to each other with sentences beginning "remember when Mum did this or Dad did that or we used to..." and I know a lot more is remembered than they let on!!! So pat yourself on the back for all you've done cause they will eventually remember, but they'll make you sweat it out for a few more years yet!

TammyJ said...

OH no my fruit bowl contains a mostly past its prime banana and a lovely pear. Very Sad. However I will not judge myself by your standards (though I do think they are great) Thanks for another wonderful post Jennie.

Brenda said...

I'm positive that my kids won't remember all the extra little things I've done for them either! I've been a stay at home mum since Ryan was born....I wouldn't have it any other way, it's so hard and they are a bit testing at times but I find it very rewarding.

Thanks for sharing Posie!

Felicity said...

Love you, love your style, love this post!

x Felicity

Maxabella said...

Great post. Your confidence always amazes me, Jen. You are just so sure of yourself and your choices. I think it's marvellous. x

Jacinta @ modelmumma said...

Will you write your own mumma parenting book please? How about a weekly newsletter? An arvo tea for mumma's to gather round and listen?? Come on! :)
You sound like you have it all together. And I would like your home made cookie dough recipe PLEASE!!!!!!!

Leonie said...

kids huh!!! so funny. they have selective hearing and memories! All will be revealed to them when they have children!
you sound like an awesome mum - an inspiration to us all.

My Bearded Pigeon said...

This post just seems to be exactly the type that makes other women feel guilty about all the things they haven't done in comparison to you.

Ruby Star said...

great post posie.
I have mother guilt but mainly brought on by my ex who doesn't hold back in letting me know how he thinks i should raise 'his' children. Same guy who rang 'his' children all but a few times last year. So i'm sure one day i will be hated and the kids can complain to a sympathetic ear. None the less, I do my best and the kids get to do what time and money can afford. Like you i'm a stay at home parent and happily help out at school when needed. We have just hit the teenage stage where they think they're cooler than me and their socks for that matter. Hold on tight posie i'm sure this really will be the fun part when all the values you've instilled in her will come through without prompting. And if all else fails.. you have the photos to prove it :)

Tammi said...

I only have to look back at my own childhood and the different perceptions of my siblings to know how true your words are :)
Love that you keep it real!!
xx

myshoeboxlife.com said...

Love this post. I dumped Mother's Guilt about six months after Miss A was born. I would be a basketcase long before I get to her teenage years otherwise! xx

Tas said...

Do they forget the time that you completely forgot it was swimming week too? The fact that you couldn't get to your eldest's anything at school when looking after a baby and a toddler got in the way? That sometimes you make your daughter cry when you brush her hair? I hope so.

Seaweed and Raine said...

Let's hope that with time her memory returns ;)
You are doing an unreal job. You have nothing to worry about. You inspire me to be a better Mummy to my two. Thanks :)

Mama of 2 boys said...

Oh god! No! If your daughter says that Posie, then I have no hope of my sons EVER remembering the dedication I put into raising them. Granted, they are still babies and I have many years of all the school commitments to go. But yowzers! It is awesome that you can take those comments for what they are, just kids being kids. If it's any consolation, I think you sound like an award winning mother and definitely the benchmark I'd like to aspire to. I don't think the mother guilt ever truly stops though, my own fabulous mother had 7 of us and was a SAHM all our lives... she STILL speaks of her guilt over things that happened 30 years ago or more!