A mum’s love is never perfect. And that’s OK
If there’s one aspect of parenting that’s totally mis-sold to us, it’s the concept of unconditional love.
To the uninitiated, unconditional love sounds absolutely divine. How wonderful must it feel to love another human being without boundaries? Surely it must be the best feeling in the world?
Except it isn’t. Well it wasn’t for me anyway. When my first child was born I do remember feeling that rush of love that everyone always talks about. But it wasn’t a particularly nice feeling.
It overwhelmed me. It confused me. It changed me beyond recognition. And not in a good way. Not to start with anyway.
I remember the first time I left the house without my baby. He was only a few days old. I’d only popped to the end of the road to post a letter. He was fast asleep and, obviously, his dad was at home with him. Yet I felt agitated and panicky the entire time I was away.
How had I become this person? I’ve always been quite independent. I’m perfectly happy in my own company. I never, in a million years, thought I’d turn into a quivering wreck over a five-minute separation.
Unconditional love made me a shell of my former, confident self. It made me feel anxious and ashamed. It became a massive burden. A burden which, at times, I feared might crush me.
Over the years I’ve learnt to adjust. The burden feels lesser. Yet I still feel incredibly guilty that the love I have for my children doesn’t make me blissfully happy all of the time. I can’t help feeling that I might somehow be doing it wrong. That maybe I don’t love my children ‘properly’.
I know it’s irrational to think that. There is no right way to love your children, nor is there a proper way to deal with the emotions associated with that love.
We all experience love in different ways. Some mums don’t get that sudden rush when their baby is first born. Sometimes their love can make them feel numb. Other mums are so confused by the extreme range of emotions that they can’t cope. And, sadly, they often feel too ashamed to seek support.
Perhaps that’s why we don’t learn the truth about unconditional love until it’s too late? Mums are still far too scared to talk about it. If they dare to reveal that the love they feel is making them unhappy, they might be accused of not loving their children at all.
All mums love their children. We just have different ways of showing it. So isn’t it time we started admitting the truth and accepting that unconditional love is far from perfect love?