This weeks Motherhood and Me (M.a.M) Diaries features Elora. Elora talks us through her experience of ‘mom guilt’. We’ve all been there haven’t we, so much guilt comes with being a mum! Thanks for getting involved Elora x
I am mom to two girls. My eldest was born in 2014, my youngest in 2016. When Emma was born, I was so good. I had read about a thousand books on “good parenting practice”, absorbed different opinions, read studies on early childhood development, made sure I ate super well throughout my pregnancy and got exercise, including sessions in aqua fit, pregnancy yoga and lots and lots of walking in the fresh air. Then she came, and I still kept reading, having her weighed every…single…week. I ended up in the hospital about 10 times with suspected near death experiences (like head bumps, bad coughs, tears for no apparent reason). I am pretty sure when the doctors saw my name come up they shook their head. I made sure she met every single milestone she was supposed to, by structuring her days with songs, reading, motor skills development and social activities, as well as ensuring she got plenty of fresh air and tummy time, and tried my hardest to stick to a feeding and bedtime schedule. I worked so hard to be the best, most perfect mom I could be. I spent every single second focused on her. I wasn’t working, I was in a new country, and didn’t have very many friends, so she was my world. And so was the house. Which was kept to sparkling standards (to me anyway), and my partner had lovingly prepared home cooked meals every night.
And then, through many and varied ups and downs, I fell pregnant again. But this time, things were different. I ate terribly, hardly did any exercise (I may have gone to yoga for a month maybe?) I developed sciatica and could hardly walk, so I didn’t get out to enjoy the outdoors very often, I had to deal with Emma going through her terrible twos and had to dodge multiple kicks to the bump (a few landed soundly however). I hardly read one parenting book. I just survived.
Then Aurora came, and I loved her just as much, and wanted to do everything the same. As I did for one, I had to do for the other, right? But life, as it often does, didn’t go that way. I was working on setting up my own business at the time, my partner ended up having health issues, Emma, as I mentioned was giving me the joys of tantrum central, and I was absolutely exhausted. Aurora did not have allocated tummy time, singing time, play time, or story time. I may have taken her to breastfeeding support group a few times, I made an effort to take her to one or two classes for a few weeks, I had her weighed maybe twice? She had no routine and breastfed on demand, and I took her into bed with me because the idea of waking up and walking her was too much for me, and it was just so much easier to roll around and stick a boob in her mouth. She fell off the bed, sofa and a chair, and only received a boob and a cuddle as compensation for her trouble. Every free minute I had, I spent working on the business or dealing with something else. Emma ended up in nursery, and at just 6 months, so did the little one. And I cried. Every. Single. Day. Because I was a horrible mother. Because Aurora would feel neglected. Because Emma had had everything, and she had nothing. The house was a disaster, I was buying premade food and throwing it in the oven. We were surviving on ready-made pizza and fish fingers. My days at home with Aurora were spent fretting because I should have been doing work, but she was acting up. I yelled. Then I hugged fiercely and cried. Then Aurora went through (is still going through) the clingy phase, and I was (am) dealing with a crying baby every time I move more than a foot away.
And then Emma got ignored.
She would ask me to play a game with her. My answer: “Just let me deal with your sister first.” Sister dealt with, I would see the stack of dishes and start washing those. Finished with those I would come in the living room and there was Emma, sitting patiently waiting for me to play with her, and I had COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN.
Waves of guilt.
What was I thinking? How can I do this? Cue me running away from the room in tears and sitting on the toilet hugging a roll of toilet paper. Cue both of them coming into the bathroom. Cue Emma looking at me and saying, “Mommy, I love you.”
Then, I gave myself a virtual slap across the face. The fact that Emma said she loves me means I am doing the best I can. And in her eyes, it is pretty damned good! So I decided to stop feeling the guilt, well, trying to reduce the feelings of guilt. Because nobody is perfect. None of us can do it all, even though it seems that some people do. But trust me, they are sacrificing something in there that you don’t know about. We are always doing the best we can do, and we have to learn to let something go. Our children need our love, and they will grow following our example. If you give them support, love, and encouragement, then they will become amazing. They don’t care if they are eating takeaway off a hastily rinsed dish on the floor of the living room. What they see is mommy sitting down with them having a picnic while singing silly songs and making them laugh.
Elora Viano is the photographer behind Life: Lived Photography, (www.lifelivedphotography.co.uk) and lives just outside of Lincoln with her husband, two fantastic girls, and fluffy cat.
Dont forget to leave Elora some love in the comments!