We’ve all been there. Those days you feel like a bad mum.When your day isn’t exactly going to plan; you have a list of errands as long as your arm which you haven’t even begun, you’re juggling multiple uncompleted tasks, the oven timer is beeping, the tap is running, the phone keeps ringing, the kids are shouting, ‘Mum!’ on repeat as though they are trying to set a Guinness World Record for the most times a child can call on a parent without ceasing.
You are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated and then something happens. The cherry on the top. You suddenly can’t take any more and before you know it you’ve snapped at your precious child. Pretty much as soon as the words are out of your mouth you are racked with guilt. You know you shouldn’t have taken it out on them but in the heat of the moment they were there and in the line of fire. You feel terrible. You are such a bad mum.
Except you are not a bad mum
And here’s why: you care. If you were really that ‘bad’ a Mum, then you wouldn’t care so much. If you were truly as bad as you fear, you wouldn’t be juggling with the many, seemingly endless, tasks at hand – striving to make your home tidier, cleaner, ensuring your children are fed, healthy, happy. The very fact that you are beating yourself up for not doing your best proves that you are not a bad mum!
I am often guilty of thinking of myself as a ‘bad Mum’. It is so easy to slip into the habit of being hard on yourself and struggle to recognise, and give yourself credit for, the many great qualities you carry day by day.
I like to call the aforementioned scenario a ‘volcano moment’
It is often the eruption we need to give us some clarity: clarity that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. That we shouldn’t feel the need to constantly achieve the perfect home, the perfect meals, the perfect workday in order to be the perfect mother for our children.
Unfortunately, such eruptions do usually end up sweeping up those we love, either our children, or husband, or someone else close to us. But my experience with ‘volcano moments’ has taught me that the eruption is usually not perceived to be as catastrophic by others as it is by you.
In fact, on more than one occasion I have caught myself, in the midst of frustration, uttering the words, ‘I’m such a bad mum!’ only to be corrected (and reprimanded!) by my son; a reassurance which not only filled me with even more love for my child, but also allowed a little guilt to creep in once again, ‘I shouldn’t have allowed him to hear me speak about myself so negatively!’
The fact of the matter is that it simply does not matter what you do, there will always be situations which you will look back on critically and doubt your decisions about- such is life! What we must try not to do is to let these doubts cloud our perception of ourselves, and our effectiveness as mothers.
Perceiving yourself as a ‘bad mum’
…is an especially easy crime to commit as we struggle through the lingering lockdown arrangements. As we struggle through, living in a more concentrated version of family life, the slippery slope of self-doubt can be oh so easy to fall down…
‘Am I doing the best I can for my kids?’ ‘Should I be doing more varied activities with them?’ ‘Am I doing enough to stimulate them?’ ‘Am I feeding them healthily enough?’ ‘What could I be doing better?’
The countless niggles of anxiety
…are one of the less enjoyable traits of good parenting. But that is exactly what they represent – good parenting.
As we move through this challenging time, try to keep reminding yourself that everything you are experiencing is full strength, concentrated. When lockdown lifts and we are restored to a more diluted version of family life, hopefully some of these uncertainties will pass. And the next time you find yourself in the midst of a ‘volcano moment’, or are just feeling generally flawed, here’s why you’re not a bad Mum…you care.
Katie Bruce is a wife and mum of 2 from Glasgow, Scotland. Katie is a teacher, musician and gymnastics coach who previously lived and worked in the Cayman Islands. She loves to crochet, spend time with family and consume more than her fair share of chocolate. Connect with her on Twitter here.
Picture credit: Hand photo created by pch.vector – www.freepik.com