When people were flinging advice at me when I was pregnant with my first child no-one thought to tell me about the guilt. There were a lot of well-meaning tips about breast feeding, birthing, wrapping, sleeping and everything baby-related, but not one person warned me about the guilt. You know it, the guilt you feel from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. Actually, who am I kidding? The guilt doesn’t stop when you’re sleeping. Even when you’re dreaming you feel guilt.
Everything you do as a mother triggers an immediate feeling of inadequacy. Even when you’re excelling as a parent, you feel guilty that you can’t sustain it. Guilt washes over you, it ebbs and flows. It floods your thoughts. Why does no-one forewarn you? Why doesn’t anyone tell you about the guilt?
Why doesn’t anyone tell you about the anger and the feelings of being trapped? Why don’t they tell you about being stuck in a never-ending cycle of Groundhog Day? Why don’t they tell you about the boring daily tasks which chip slowly away at your inner psyche? The changing of nappies, the finding of dummies wedged under couches, the filling of milk bottles, the chasing of nude children around each night to put on their pajamas, the inability to get a good night’s sleep without a small child climbing into the covers beside you, the endless scraping of dinner plates with untouched food, the tantrums, the screaming, the locking yourself in the bathroom to breathe, the getting in and out of car seats, the washing? Why does no-one tell you about the mountains of fucking washing?
Why doesn’t anyone tell you about the loneliness and the judgement? The feelings of being sidelined at a mother’s group, smiling at strangers willing them to include you? The endless days running after your children and not engaging in a real conversation with anyone. Why doesn’t anyone tell you about those moments you just want to crawl into a ball and scream for fucks sake be quiet? Why doesn’t anyone tell you about the constant questions? Why doesn’t anyone tell you about the feeling that you left some of yourself behind in the birthing suite (and I’m not talking about your placenta)?
Why doesn’t anyone tell you of the worry? The way your heart aches thinking about all that could hurt them. How you sometimes sit up at night and cry. How you would stop at nothing to protect them. How you feel such all-encompassing responsibility for their safety, wellbeing and happiness. The way your soul is crushed each time you hear of a child that has suffered at the hands of another. How you wish you could wrap them all up and keep them safe. All of them, every child in the world, not just your own. Why does no-one tell you of the worry?
Why doesn’t anyone tell you about the love? The aching, heart filling, bone strengthening, finger tingling, mind blowing love. The love that fills you from your hair on your toes to the tips of your eyelashes. The feeling of amazement when you look into the eyes of the little person you grew inside of you. The way you watch them when they’re sleeping. How you reach to hold their hand and gently touch their face. The overwhelming desire to kiss them hundreds of times over, to nibble on their pudgy fingers and stroke their hair. Why doesn’t anyone tell you it is possible to love with such ferocity you weep when they smile at you in a certain way or they achieve a dream. How you wish for them the entire world and all the stars in the universe. How you’re forever changed because of them. Why doesn’t anyone tell you about the love? Why doesn’t anyone tell you these things.
Thank you thank you thank you. I was just venting to a girlfriend today about the mindnumbing monotony of my days and then felt guilt about expressing it and not feeling incredibly grateful for what I have….
Best advice I was given was that there would be days I didn’t like my baby very much at all, but that I would love them still, and that that was perfectly normal.
I was lucky I guess to be given that advice. Still didn’t stop the guilts completely, but it did help. It’s what I tell all parents to be given half a chance.
I don’t know, to answer ALL of your questions in 3 words! (even though I have had/lived all of those same questions myself, of course I have)
Try adding survivor guilt to that guilt. Resentment to the love. Followed by more servings of guilt…… It’s been soul-crushing to navigate at times. I often feel like the most ungrateful git in the world.
Fantastic post, Bianca. I don’t have kids (yet) but am already dreading the guilt! I pile a lot of pressure on myself anyway to make sure everyone else is happy, so I’m honestly not sure how I’ll cope if/when children are added to the mix. I even feel guilty leaving my dogs at home when I go to work! I’m not sure what the answer is… perhaps just being aware that we’re feeling irrationally guilty is a good start?!
Oh B, you speak such wise and true words. I got no advice beyond people telling me that it’d be nothing like I thought and that is very true! I wish I knew all the things you’ve spoken of prior to feeling them…I’d have been prepared in some way. I even find it too hard to leave the house alone these days. I just can’t deal with the screaming, non-sleeping baby in public.
Why? Because there’s not many people on this planet that can find the right words to describe it…apart from you. Beautiful post Bianca.
I’m due with my first next week. Consider me told!! x
Parenting is the hardest thing one can ever do… and if we knew how difficult it would be we wouldn’t do it. But then we would miss out on all the rewarding bits. I’ve had my share of parenting hardships, stress and worry… but there are those special times (however fleeting!) that tell me it was worth it.
I read that while breastfeeding my third, and last, baby. I cried.
“The feelings of being sidelined at a mother’s group, smiling at strangers willing them to include you … not engaging in a real conversation with anyone.”
like when a 3 minute chat to the check out chick feels like a triumph? yeah … xt
Ahhh because if they did, we wouldn’t go for it. Good news – there is a light. But I think the more people are aware that it’s normal to feel this way, the better it will be. Thanks B xx
Beautifully put Bianca. You know, I think you love your kids just that little bit more when you watch them sleeping, it makes up for whatever they’ve done during the day x
Well said. Seriously. Congrats on getting all that out.
Why doesn’t anyone tell you? Probably because they could tell you the bad stuff and you’d think, nah, that won’t happen to me, I have everything planned and we’ll be fine.
They could tell you the good stuff and you’d believe them too, but you won’t understand just how much love you’ll feel until you feel it.
P.S. I don’t get the guilt thing. Why does everyone feel guilty because they’re not perfect at parenting? There are no hard and fast rules, parenting is a very steep learning curve, different for everybody. I understand feelings of not knowing what the heck you’re doing, or not knowing what the heck to do about something/anything….but I’ve never understood the guilt that everyone goes on about.
Nobody tells you, because nobody could possibly describe it as well as you just have!! And even if they did me, I probably didn’t listen anyhow. Beautifully written. One of your best blogs xx
Great entry! You captured this amazing part of your life beautifully. Loved reading it 🙂
Feeling guilt is very human though… I feel it is getting less the older I get so that’s a good thing.
I will never know about the love you describe, enjoy it to the fullest though, it seems to me that it is one of the most impressive experiences a woman can have!
Anyway, I loved stumbling on your blog today, will come back more often!
“the screaming, the tantrums.” That would be me. As the hypothetical parent.
This says it all bianc. Big honest words baby. Even if someone had told me these things I doubt I would have believed it. Mothering seems to be the hardest and best thing ever. Its this contradiction that keeps us on the roller – coaster. Luv ya lady xxxxx liza
Amazing. True. Beautiful. And I couldn’t tell you why, though I’ve wondered it ever since my oldest son gazed into my eyes for the first time (probably thinking, ‘Who is this exhausted looking chick with the puffy face?’)… Brilliant piece, B!
Because if anyone told us then we wouldn’t go through with it. Although, I’ve often reflected back thinking did anyone try to tell me this stuff while I was pregnant? But I don’t think I would have heard them anyway as I was in fantasy baby happy families land, blissfully unaware of reality.
Marcie from http://www.noclothesnoshoes.blogspot.com
No one tells you because it would make you a bad mother if you thought that way. I am a bad mother. I tell people.
It’s 4AM and I’m snuggling on the couch with my toddler who wouldn’t sleep tonight. I was just starting to get grumpy about it and I came across this. I think I can stand a few more minutes awake to take in the snuggles and sniff his hair. Thank you.
A very honest post!
I have thought many of those things, that’s why I try to be honest about motherhood, but really I don’t think people are able to really grasp it until they’re a mother..
As always, great post Bianca! I finally understood ‘what it meant to have your heart walking outside of your body’ once I had kids. Every emotion we feel is extreme because our love for our kids is extreme – and you’re so right about our hearts aching whenever we hear that a child – any child – has been deliberately hurt. I can’t fathom how any child could be in a place where they are not loved, cuddled and smothered in kisses.
Beautifully written. I’m just speechless.
Parenting in a nutshell.
Because you wouldn’t have believed it. An honest conversation about the complexity of parenting would have washed over you, because there are no words to fully describe the experience until you have lived it.
I have wondered that for 3 1/2 years – since my son was born. I really can’t figure out why no one tells moms-to-be about all that, but I’m glad more of us are talking about it.
B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L!! I think no one tells you the truly tough stuff because we’d all be too scared to go forth & procreate! But then again, I’m sure if they did, we’d never listen, thinking “yeah but that will never happen to lil ol in control me” (ahem, I was oh so wrong…)
I reckon nobody tells you because words couldn’t possibly describe it, but you’ve given it a good bash. Just beautiful.
No-one tells because no-one would believe it might happen to them!
Thank goodness most days the good makes up for the not so good.
I think you summed up parenting perfectly! We have all had those feelings, some day’s are good, others not so good. Either way we couldn’t live without them!
Just goes to show you everyone journey with every single child is different, as i feel zero guilt about anything i do with, for, against my children. I do what feels right, good, bad, suitable, it moves so quickly & guilt does not have a place in my timeline. They are YOUR children, being raised YOUR way, they’ll be fabulous & love makes up for an awful lot. Love Posie
Wow. I guess we hear all about the practical side of parenting, not so much about the emotional side. I wish I could have read this before I became a parent, I would love to know if I would have been able to grasp the power of your words. I’m not sure I would have. Maybe that’s why no one tells us. It’s something you have to experience to believe.
I love this post.
So true. About the breast feeding thing – I couldn’t breastfeed my son. Don’t ask me about the load of crap I copped from mums and nanas who think only the devil doesn’t breastfeed. I did not choose not to feed, my boobs said No!
My main ‘guilt’ comes from feeling Im not doing the best for Annie – my 10 month old. Thats not to say I dont try to do my best – I just worry its not enough. She deserves the best and I can only hope I can provide her with that. And yes, I do have days where I just think i need a break – some time out out for me – guilt comes with that too.