Why are we constantly feeling so guilty?

If you’re a mum or a mum-to-be, you may know what I’m referring to…

My pregnancy was as I expected it to be – a lot of joy, a lot of nausea, a lot of thrills, a lot of heartburn… But there was one feeling that I hadn’t expected to welcome, and that was guilt…I felt that no matter what I did, I wasn’t the ‘perfect’ mother..

Some of the guilt was a result of internally-driven expectations I had for myself. But a lot of the guilt was being driven by external factors, by the unsolicited comments I was receiving – which I would have never received had I not been pregnant or a mum. Somehow, being pregnant seemed to come with an open invitation for everyone else to start participating in my life, and motherhood seemed to be about fielding a never-ending set of guilt-tripping questions, suggestions and expectations…

It started with pregnancy…

..with the friend who asked if I did yoga every day (but I never enjoyed doing yoga)…

..with the colleague who asked if I was playing enough classical music for the baby to hear (and I was listening to Rihanna and Sean Paul)…

..with the neighbour who repeatedly mentioned that she delivered naturally (and I knew that I was going to welcome all forms of pain-relief)…

..with the magazine ad which asked if I was worried about losing all the pregnancy weight (and I had put on 23kgs during my pregnancy)…

..and it continued well into motherhood…

..with the health visitor who said breastfeeding is all about perseverance (when my baby seemed to have his own opinions about how he wanted to be fed)…

..and with every third-person who asked me when I’m planning to have the next one (when, as an only child myself, I felt life was pretty good even if there wasn’t going to be a next one)…

At some point, I was feeling so guilty about everything I was not doing and the person I was not being that I was missing out on enjoying being the mother, and the woman, that I was. I started talking to other women around me, and the stories were all the same. Guilt, in some way or the other, affected all of us.

So how do we make this guilt go away? A first step could be to accept that each women is different and getting rid of the expectation that there is one perfect blueprint for being a mother. We need to encourage and inspire each other to be the kind of mothers & parents each one of us wants to be, instead of making each other feel guilty about everything that we are not. Another step would be to understand that motherhood is a journey, a journey where mistakes will and can be made, and that that’s ok. And a third step would be to stop judging women for being themselves, as they take on their roles as a mother – because motherhood doesn’t have to be a choice between being who you are and being a mother.

So that’s why I’m passionate about #guiltynomore – because I’m here to tell the world that motherhood is not an open invitation for everyone to participate in my life, and that my space and privacy needs to be respected. I’m here to say that I’m proud about making the decisions that I think are best for myself and my baby. I’m here to say that I’m no longer going to feel guilty about being myself, and that I’m going to enjoy motherhood my way – without the fear of being judged, criticised and most of all failing.

I believe that the greatest gift I can give my child is to be myself, and the greatest gift we can give each other is to let us be – that’s what Unity is all about!

Parvathi

#guiltynomore