Welcome back Sameera Bhayat, a popular guest writer here at MMM. Having written about her motherhood journey last time, she’s back with a new post about the dreaded “mum guilt” which most of us have been feeling in the last 12 months!
Lockdown or not. I always have one form of company.
It has become a permanent shadow. It really does love to linger. I did not welcome it. I never thought it would ever arrive at my door. But like an uninvited guest, it appeared without warning and has stayed for 2 years 3 months. And I can bet my life on the fact it will not be leaving me.
Social media does not help for a lot of things either. It does not matter how genuine and authentic. Because in this case, it fuels the guilt. You scroll past the photos and stories of mums/parents/carers and their children. The incredibly intricate activities. The stunning interiors and bedroom designs. The weekend visits to parks and play centres. The elaborate meals in special plates. The cute outfits and dazzling poses.
And in my house?
I can guarantee today I have said, ‘no’, ‘not today’ and ‘I just need to send this email’. I have probably snapped before thinking, reluctantly put the TV on for distraction, or just not recognised the signs of a child that wants some play time with mummy.
Granted, lockdown and restrictions have been difficult. Thrown into this new normal. Parents and carers trying to juggle home-schooling. Trying to make ends meet. Struggling with their own mental health. Keeping a smile for their children. Doing their best to raise little people. Being forced into this pandemic. Unsure of when the end is. Unsure of how to find their way forward. Unsure of their own parenting.
I returned to work after maternity leave at the start of 2020. Naturally, I felt guilty to leave my one-year-old baby at nursery two days a week, but I learnt to adapt and saw the progress she made. And soon after, I moved into a new job – during lockdown. Grateful and excited by the prospect of starting another role, the reality of juggling a job remotely with childcare full time on top of my duties at home surfaced.
I cannot juggle fruit. To be fair, I am so un-coordinated that I trip over my own feet. But believe me when I say I can (just about) juggle life.
But now I was juggling three roles. And a million other sub-roles. Employee. Mother. Wife
Yes. Lockdown meant I had endless time to be with my daughter. Time I would never have had. I thought I would decorate her room with letters, numbers, and scripture. That we would have daily walks. Afternoons with homemade playdough. Baking little fairy cakes. Teaching her new songs and words. Oh, the naivety. But now I was juggling three roles. And a million other sub-roles.
Employee. Mother. Wife.
5:30am starts. Never a proper nap. Child with sleep regression. Logging on at 6am. Endless dishes. Ignoring laundry. Making shopping lists. Feeding my child. Missing prayers. Hoovering. Tripping over toys. Mess around. Packing away toys. Toilet training. Nursery rhymes. Cook. More tidying. Trying to study. Bedtime routines. Dealing with spills. Tripping over more toys. Meetings with a toddler yelling. Meetings with a toddler on my lap. Hanging up on meetings to rush the toddler to the toilet. More cooking. Shopping for more than one household. Being at home with no actual time to sit or rest.
You see, not being able to give your all to your job or household is hard. You feel, rubbish? Letting people down. Letting yourself down. But then, not being able to give it all to your child is purely heart-breaking and difficult to digest. This little child who does not understand the concept of time, employment and ‘in a minute’. Who has no idea what a pandemic is, let alone lockdown? A child that wants your attention and time only. You regret getting frustrated, you feel guilty for doing everything else and not putting them first. Torn between playing for ten minutes or washing the dishes so you are not cleaning at 10pm. Every tiny decision haunts you later.
Letting people down. Letting yourself down. But then, not being able to give it all to your child is purely heart-breaking and difficult to digest
As a mum/parent/carer, you are doing everything you can. And you are enough. You cannot do everything at once and under the circumstances, you are doing an incredible job (in every single capacity). We let everything else consume our thoughts and hearts, leading us to feel guilty and that we are failing our children or just not doing right by them. We let that guilt eat at us throughout each day and each night. That the moment we snap at our children, or they cry because we removed a toy, defines who we are.
It does not.
Meet ‘me’. The biggest hypocrite. I will write this. I will encourage you. I will do anything to help you see the positive.
Then again, I will probably retire to bed tonight and wallow, whilst my own child tells me ‘be happy face, I love you mummy’ before falling asleep with a smile on her face.
My heart joyful and heavy at the same time.
Mum guilt always gives me company.
To read more of Sameera Bhayat’s pieces, see some of her other posts below:
You can also follow her on instagram here: @sammiebee