Our baby hasn’t arrived yet and won’t for a little while, but I am already starting to feel guilty.
I feel guilty that if I stay home with our baby once it’s born, that I won’t be contributing financially as much as I would feel that is “right”. But then I would also feel guilty about eventually returning to a job that is out of home, as I would feel like a bad parent for leaving our baby as he or she grows up, and my time and energy towards them would be compromised. And most recently I have started feeling guilty about also wanting to have a career. It sounds very old-fashioned, but I do feel guilty about it because is that selfish of me? To crave the best of both worlds?
Is this what the term “mum guilt” refers to? The feeling of no matter what choice you make, that it is never right nor easy. To feel as though you will always be doing the wrong thing, and not knowing what choice is best for your child, if you are even lucky enough to have a choice in the matter.
Logically I know that there is not only one path in motherhood and being a parent in general. There are many trails woven within this journey, and all are equally valid. There is no right way to do it, and that there will always be someone who doesn’t agree with you and who does things differently.
This also got me thinking about dads or husbands or partners or anyone else in the picture – do they feel this irrational guilt about these aspects of parenthood too? Cameron has just been offered a really great job in the city we are moving to, and does he feel guilty about this progression in his career? I highly doubt it, and nor should he! He is just fulfilling his role that we have planned for the next little while, as I am going to be as well.
I feel as though mothers will always be the most criticized in parenthood. It’s in all of the books, movies, and reality too. When dads go to work, it’s seen as working hard to provide for their families. And if they are stay-at-home parents, praise is shouted at them from the rooftops. Either way is good, but I just wish that mums could make it through with the same support and clear conscience. Our Prime Minister here recently had a baby, and she was harshly criticized from all angles about being a bad mother and a bad leader, despite doing a wonderful job and most of the men in government and past prime ministers also having kids, which no one blinks an eyelid at.
Maybe it’s because we’re women. Maybe it’s because this is an age-old battle, but just the parenthood edition. It just feels like we have to fight ten times harder. I think that guilt comes with the territory of becoming a mum.