We owe it to our daughters to banish mum guilt
I often look at my daughter and wonder how she turned out so completely different to me.
We don’t look alike at all. She’s the spitting image of her dad.
She certainly didn’t get my personality, either. She has her brother’s devilish sense of humour.
It was getting to the point where I was thinking she’d inherited absolutely nothing from me at all.
Then last week, all that changed. I discovered there is one trait that we both share.
It turns out we both suffer from Mum Guilt.
It all became clear one afternoon after I picked her up from preschool. She ran straight upstairs to play in her bedroom, but when she saw her favourite baby doll lying on the floor, she stopped in her tracks.
Her face dropped, her lip began to quiver. Then she turned to me and said, ‘Oh no. I left my baby all by herself.’
It took me a while to process her reaction. Why was she so sad? When her big brothers used to come home from preschool, their eyes would light up when they were reunited with their favourite toys.
Then I realised something; she’s learnt that reaction from me. At the moment she’s obsessed with babies. She actually makes us call her ‘small mummy.’ So, naturally, she looks to me as an example of how mummies should behave.
She’s subconsciously picked up on the signals I’ve sent her. Whenever I collect her after a day spent apart, I’ll say things to her like, ‘Oh Mummy’s missed you so much.’ I never talk about my day, or about what I’ve been doing while I’ve been away from her.
As far as my three-year-old is concerned, mums are supposed to pine for their offspring whenever they are separated.
I don’t want her to grow up to think like this. I don’t want her to think that mum guilt is okay. It isn’t.
She may still be a baby herself, but I already know that she’ll be a good mother when the time comes. But, more than anything, I want her to be a confident individual. I want her to lead a fulfilling life.
I don’t want her to ever think that her life doesn’t matter, or that she’s not good enough.
This is exactly why we need to banish mum guilt for good. We need to shut off that nagging voice in our head that makes us question our parenting abilities, or makes us feel ashamed to enjoy a bit of ‘me time’.
We must all do this. For our daughters’ sakes. Because if they can grow up to be guilt-free mums, just think how much better their lives could be.