Mum Guilt – Parenting Is Hard And It’s Ok To Admit That
This is a topic that is very close to my heart because initially I was almost ashamed by how hard I found being a mum. I was surrounded by people who made parenting look like a piece of cake, and even worse they seemed to be enjoying every single moment.
I felt so inadequate compared to them, what was wrong with me? Why was I finding parenting easy? Why wasn’t I enjoying every single minute? Then I found other, who like me found that sometimes our children made us feel like tearing our hair out, made us cry, made us feel like we were about to explode.
Parenting is hard
I think every parent, no matter how long they have been a parent for or how many children they have, has had that moment where they think to themselves “I have absolutely no idea how to raise a child”. The truth is parenting is difficult, it’s not simple, it may look simple for the outside looking in, but when you are right in the middle of it, it can feel impossible.
I always knew that parenting was hard, but I was completely overwhelmed by how hard. I think a lot of this stems from the idea that a lot of parenting is instinct, which is true. However, what they don’t tell you is how much you will doubt your instincts, your ability, your judgement, yourself. I believe this is generally what makes parenting so hard, doubt.
I am amazed when I see just how much parents doubt themselves and I am adding myself to this as well. I doubt myself and my parenting all the time, I am often convinced that I am a terrible mother who is setting her child up to fail. I am saying this as he is sat next to me as happy as anything without a care in the world, I can see he is happy, I know he is happy, he can now even tell me he is happy, and yet I still doubt my ability to look after him.
My advice to new parents
I tend to steer away from giving too much advice to new (or even old) parents as I remember well how overwhelming it can be. People often mean well but a lot of the advice can often be confusing or even contradictory.
However, one piece of advice I am not afraid to give new parents is that there will be days when it is so hard, when you want to (or will) cry, run away, scream, shout. This is fine, this is normal. There will also be days where everything is wonderful, and you feel like you finally have this parenting thing sussed. Most days you will just go about your normal business trying to get everything done.
Whatever your day is like, embrace the bad, enjoy the good. Parenting is difficult, but it is incredibly rewarding. I won’t tell you to cherish every moment, I will tell you to embrace every moment. Children change so much and what feels like the end of the world today won’t even register another day.
It is ok to find parenting hard or to even find your child difficult. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your child, it just means you are human, and you have limits.
If you ever doubt your ability to be a good mum or a good dad, just look at your child. Is your child warm, fed, loved?
You can do this because you are doing this.
Why do we doubt our ability to parent?
This is a question that really interests me, because self-doubt is to prevalent in our lives. We often doubt our ability to not only parent but to do anything, our jobs, our finances, keep fit, eat well, be an adult. Self-esteem/ confidence problems are so common it is practically normal.
If I go back to myself, I don’t only doubt my ability to parent, I also regularly doubt my ability to work. I doubt my ability to run a household. I doubt my ability to be a good wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, person. I doubt my ability to look after myself. I doubt my ability to be a fully functional member of society. I am very well acquainted with self-doubt, I’m unsure what life is like without it.
This to me is so sad, not because I feel sorry for myself or I feel like the only person who feels this way. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, to me it is sad because I know I am not alone and that many people feel this way, its an epidemic.
How to overcome self-doubt
It is not easy to overcome, in fact sometimes you must repeatedly overcome self-doubt. I have worked very hard to overcome my confidence and self-esteem problems, it has been a long process and it has taken years for me to get where I am today. I would say that although I am a lot better than I was, I still have a long way to go.
There is however help available out there and you can improve your self esteem and confidence issues, you just need to reach out and accept the help on offer. Help does not always have to equal therapy either, there is a lot of self help out there, and it does not always have to cost a lot or anything either.
I have now reached a point where I can often turn my self-doubt into motivation, not always but a lot of the time. In fact, I have regularly doubted my ability to do this website, to get my thoughts out there. I assumed no one would care. However, I now find self-doubt a very strong driving force and I am determined to prove myself wrong.
You got this!
It does not matter what it is you are doubting yourself about, you are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for. It is so easy to get lost in all the negative that you cannot see the positives. However, I would like you to try something for me, even if this is the only thing you do try.
Make a list of everything negative in your life, every negative thought, every negative belief. Done? Now do the same for the positive things in your life, every positive thought, every positive belief. Really try and work on this list, try and come up with at least 5-10 things in each list.
You may find one list easier to do than the other, that is fine. However, we all have good and we all have bad. Life is not meant to always be easy, but it also isn’t meant to always be bad. There is balance in life, and the trick is learning to juggle both.