Do you suffer from mammy guilt?
I read a quote lately which I think captures it well “I wonder how much of what’s weighing me down, is mine to carry?” in the first instance, ask yourself, is it your own guilt or is it someone else’s guilt? Whose guilt is it anyway?
You know the well meaning relation saying something like ‘that’s such a long day for poor Joshua to be in creche’ or ‘oh he is so small to be going to creche’, whatever it maybe. These comments can really add fuel to the fire if we have a mammy guilt fire burning already and are already thinking something similar ourselves. We need to own our decision and make the best of our situation. You can only do what you can given the circumstances.
To ensure those unhelpful comments or fuel others are trying to add to your mammy guilt fire doesn’t impact you, you can do one of two things. Ignore them, which may be easier said than done, or secondly you can give a factual answer like ‘he absolutely loves it and I can see the progress in his development from being around other children’ or ‘he is actually one of the bigger children there, would you believe’.
The other guilt is your own, so this is the one you choose to carry around with you. If you think of a dial which you can turn up or down, turning it up makes you feel bad and turning it down lessens the burden of guilt. Choosing your level of guilt allows you to be in control.
At the end of the day, it is only you who can make you feel guilty. No one else can make you feel the way you feel. If you want to let go or at least turn down your dial on mammy guilt. I suggest you consider the answer to the following question “What does a ‘good enough’ parent mean to you? Use this prompt to get clear on this because we are human, we have many demands on our time and we can only do so much, so with that in mind, it might be helpful to think about things that are important to you and what realistically good enough looks like for each of those.
Then there is the workplace guilt. You have arrived into work early (and I hear this one a lot) but no one know what time you arrived as you haven’t told anyone except maybe you have agreed it with your boss. You have finished your work day and are leaving on time. However, others have a perception of you leaving early now that you are a working mum and a throw away comment like ‘Oh your on a half day again’ can be really frustrating to you and this can build up over time as sometimes there can be ongoing comments from different people in the office.
The best thing to do is be transparent and let others know your work hours to eliminate those perceptions. You can let people know your early hours in a number of ways. You can send an email stating your hours or you can subtly let people know by saying something like ‘It was so dark when I arrived at 7:30am’ or ‘I am getting used to being the first person in the office every morning’, whatever it may be.
Forgive and Forget
Finally, forgiveness. Forgive yourself when you don’t meet your expectations of being a ‘good enough’ parent, because you know life happens and unexpected things happen and you are doing your best so just remember that and remember tomorrow is a new day and I often ask myself ‘Will this matter in 5 years time’ and if the answer is no, then it’s time to move on.
If you are a new working parent and finding the transition a challenges or an existing working parent and feel like you need some help to gain the work life harmony you desire or just take stock of your career and gain clarity for 2020, drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a call to find out how I can help you.