The guilt we bestow upon ourselves.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013
I wanted to write this post but hesitated, testing the waters with a 140 character tweet before I dared. What if people think I hate motherhood? What if people think I'm a selfish mother who doesn't want to be around her children? I stopped myself right there because I realised this is why I'm writing this. Will people actually think I'm a terrible unfit mother because I want to have a quiet moment with a coffee and a glossy magazine? It is the guilt we bestow upon ourselves - the guilt of wanting to be a person?

I can't tell you how many times I have been called "Layla's mummy". I have a name but they don't want to know because that's who I am to them. I am the walking womb that gestated their child's thirty second best friend. I find myself introducing myself this way too and I don't think I have gone an entire conversation with someone without fitting in that I have a fiancé and two children. Girls. Aged four and two. It's like I feel guilty if I don't slot them in there because they are a huge part of my life. It is not a guilt that is pushed on me by anyone but myself. I am their mother.

I am also Laura. I'm twenty four years old and I like coffee, writing, finding shoes that fit me, pouring over endless extortionately priced magazines, singing and the days where I don't have to cook. I like the days when I win a coin toss and don't have to tend to that dirty nappy. I like taking off my day clothes, hoisting my chest into a dress and going out. I have locked myself in the bathroom and cried when my kids have got too much like Charlotte from Sex And The City. I have thrown caution to the wind and busied the children with a DVD while I've eaten chocolate in the kitchen just because I didn't want to share. I have also booked a babysitter and text every ten minutes to check everything was okay. That's every ten minutes for three hours.

So often I see friends say "I've had a fantastic time but I've missed my children" or "It was so good to be out and I'd love to do it more often but I do love my children and would never be without them". These quotes? They're mine but they're not unlike so many I've seen and heard. I pulled directly from Facebook after what I like to call 'Mum guilt' sets in. I feel the need to justify my fun.

I love my children. Of course I do, who doesn't? I love being with them, I love teaching them and seeing them learn about the world we live in. I enjoy making homemade meals, walking with them, singing, laughing, playing...but it gets exhausting. There's a point where I need adult conversation, good music and a gin and tonic. There's a point where a quiet hot bath and Vogue is what the doctor ordered. A babysitter is a welcome relief when you need to work somewhere with good wi-fi and strong coffee. A babysitter is a welcome relief when you just need to dance off the dust of the day.

So I propose that we shed off the need to validate our choices. Whether that's working away from home a few days a week, putting our children into childcare for a day during school holidays because we need a break or letting our hair down and allowing ourselves to be more than mothers because we are. We are more than mothers.

12 comments:

  1. oh god i can identify with this so much! i love my daughter but i spend every moment shes awake with her & i really just want a break! and of course i feel bad for saying this but i can't wait until she starts pre-school in september so i can have a couple of hours to myself each day. i identify myself as a mother but theres so much more to me than just being a mum. i totally agree, we're still normal people & deserve to do things once in a while that don't completely revolve around our kids. it doesn't make us bad people, it makes us human xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you completely. I have one in reception and as of next January I will have three whole hours to myself child-free when my youngest goes to nursery. The year after I will have from 9am - 3pm free from both. It is terrifying admitting that you like the thought of it but at the same time, you still have to parent after those hours. You still have to teach what the teachers don't. Time away from my children is time for me to become a better mother and a better human being. The less stressed and more productive I am the easier it is for me to parent them to the best of my ability.

      Delete
  2. I don't even have children and this struck a chord with me! I think its sad when women feel that they have to lose their identities in order to become a mother - its a part of who you are, but its not ALL you are. My mum was ALWAYS there for me when I was growing up (still is!) but she did have a life, and that was SUCH a good example for me. Try not to feel guilty :) x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The judgment of other mothers by fellow mothers is astounding. We should all be happy these children are happy and loved. I'm sure there are mothers who go out a lot and neglect their children when they are at home but most of us aren't these people. We will always be mothers, we will always be there for our children but sometimes we strive for more and that should be praised rather than condemned. My mother sounds much like yours and I truly believe she set an excellent example for me.

      Delete
  3. This is a great post Laura, very well written too. On my friends recently had a baby (she was the first out of my friends) and sometimes it's hard to judge certain things. This may sound silly, but sometimes i think shall i bother asking her if they want to go out for dinner/night out when she has a 4 month baby that she doesn't really want to leave and put her in that awkward position? Instead i put the ball in her court to tell me when she wants to go out, but i will happily go around every other week and sit with her gorgeous little boy where she has her hour of serious pamper (washing her hair properly in a nappy free zone!). Reading this i'm so going to organise for both her and my boyfriend to up the baby sitting so we can do some serious girly things!

    And i know some women preach about staying at home 24/7 and not working, but christ, thats what nurseries are for! And some people can't even afford to have that luxury any way. xxx

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love how honest this is. I don't have children myself, but I have friends who do and anyone who says that they don't need any time to their selves at some point is lying to make it look easier than it really is!
    Great post :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is a brilliant post, I know how completely you feel. It gets a bit cabin fever like sometimes when you're stuck inside with only a baby to talk too. I find myself even saying the silly baby words just in normal everyday conversation. I've been looking into putting my youngest into child care just for the day (mainly cos it's stupid expensive) just so I can have me time. It's not nice that people just recognise you for the child you had x

    ReplyDelete
  6. Really loved this post Laura. I know how you feel being a mom of a 7yr old and almost 6 yr old twins. I find even when I get a free night I end up mentioning them through out the night when really I should be enjoying a rare time out with friends. I have said many times esp lately I love my monkeys so much but I miss being Sara and not just a mom :)

    Sara x

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm glad your wrote this Laura, I burst into tears reading it because it is exactly how I feel. My little girl will be one on Monday and I love her more than life itself but we only have each other. It's got to the point where I can't even go to the bathroom without her screaming blue murder. She follows me EVERYWHERE! I tried to leave her with my grandparents today and after half an hour I had to go get her. I also have no friends up here to have any sort of a social life, I've started to get really down about it.

    Like you I feel there is so much more to me than just my child and because no one recognises it anymore I feel like I'm losing the more interesting parts of my personality. It's really upsetting and frustrating because although I do love being "Mama" I want to still be Amy too.

    Thank you for writing this, it was so nice to see some many comments from other mothers so I know I'm not alone.

    Amy x cocktailsinteacups.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great post Laura.
    I don't have children myself but can completely relate to this from things that my sister says. She loves any excuse to get away from hers! Obviously she misses them but she says it is so nice to be something other than a mother.
    That is the main reason she came back to work, because otherwise the lack of adult conversation drives her insane! x

    ReplyDelete
  9. Have been browsing your blog and I LOVE your writings!! xx

    The Young Bridget Jones

    ReplyDelete