I heard about motherguilt (yes, I do think it is all one word) at a conference I went to yesterday on Work Life Balance and Adolescents.
I Googled it tonight because Dr Fiona Wood mentioned it in her talk at the conference, and I realised there was this whole word going on that explained the whole thing and I had somehow missed it (probably too busy feeling guilty about being on the computer while dinner needed cooking!). There’s heaps about it on Google. Not that anyone who has it (i.e. anyone who is a mother and/or has a very special pet – because I do believe dogs in particular are good practice for motherguilt, it’s the way they look at you from outside in the freezing cold when they haven’t been taken for a walk for about 3 weeks) really needs to look it up.
It’s just THERE, from the second of conception OR more truly from the second of knowledge of conception (“oh crap, how pregnant am I?
Does that mean I drank all that beer/vodka/bourbon when this new life inside me was at a very important stage of cell division??”). And it never goes away.
Reasons to suffer motherguilt:
- Alcohol consumed during pregnancy, especially prior to the knowledge you were pregnant, if you’re prepared to have a few after that you probably already have one healthy child!
- Eating too many Chiko rolls in an effort to stop the morning sickness (I mean does anyone know what is in those things? And does anyone eat them just for a snack when they don’t have morning sickness?)
- Not being very calm and nice during your pregnancy and having those moments when the RAGE would grasp you and you would yell like
a banshee at anyone in earshot (quite often the other parent of the baby in utero) and you KNOW that you are filling the unborn child with venom and evil thoughts about aforesaid other parent and you just CAN’T STOP
- Complaining during childbirth
- Using disposable nappies (motherguilt combined with earthguilt)
- Leaving your child with anyone, for longer than 2 minutes, unless it’s for something boring like a doctor’s appointment.
- Going back to work, even part-time, after the birth of any children (even 5 years later)
- Putting your children in daycare
- Having baked beans on toast for dinner more than 2 nights in a row
- Catching your child in the morning in your bedroom with an (empty) beer stubby in their hand. Not that she drank it. Where did she find it?
- Sending your kids to school in a uniform that just got a good “shake-out” or just got out of the (dirty) washing basket
- Being the last person to see your teenagers’ calculator and not being able to recall where that was or if you moved it from there.
- Going to Conferences about Work Life Balance and Adolescents while your snotty nosed baby (who would be best at home with her
Mummy) goes to daycare and the last thing you said to your Adolescent was something grumpy and nagging about hurrying up and not spending so long on her hair, and forgetting to have breakfast first because you had to go to the shop and get toilet paper, milk and bread (14. not planning the week well enough).
There are of course many more reasons, but it does seem to get easier with more children (I felt no guilt about the baby eating cat kibbles tonight (out of the cat bowl btw, not on the dinner menu because we had run out of baked beans), whilst with my first I may have had conniptions as she was vegetarian), although you can get motherguilt about whether or not you feel guilty enough about something for one of your latter born children. My first girl slept in my bed and demand fed until she was 18 months old. Tonight I am planning on sleeping in the lounge room so I can’t hear my 8 month old when she wakes hourly, in the hope that in 2 more nights she will stop waking hourly just to have me put her dummy back in (the first born didn’t have a dummy of course).
I’m OK about it really. I’m not even trying to defend my position. I’m just glad there’s an actual word, so I can know what it is and then work out how much I’m going to let it get to me. It’s lucky we have it really or we would probably just be like lizards, and let the babies hatch and fend for themselves, and it’s certainly tied up with love and maternal instinct.
Ahhhh motherguilt, what kind of mother would I be without you????