How many of you have been in a situation when you were excessively harsh with your child through little or no fault of hers', and continued the foul mood for the entire day. Then when you saw your child sleep in the night you were overcome with an immense feeling of guilt? You kissed your child but she was fast asleep to know that mummy is feeling really bad. You finally cried yourself to bed with a feeling that probably you are the worst mom in this world and just could not wait for the morning to hug your child. I am sure parts of this are true for all of us.
And this is not the only time that you get this feeling, ‘am I a bad mom?' A mother can feel guilty about anything. From being unable to understand why your baby is crying in the infant stage; for working and not giving enough time to your child; for being unable to stay at home when your child pleads you to stay with her, for having a job which involves frequent tours;, for scolding/hitting/ridiculing/shaming your child; for withdrawing privileges as a form of discipline; for my child's weight issues (either way); for my child's ill health; for her academic underperformance; for her misbehavior; for occasionally allowing junk food, for not cooking a variety of meals; for helping her with her homework (knowing that she should be doing it on her own, in her own interest! Am I thwarting independence?); to not helping her with her homework (Am I being ruthless?).
The list could go on and on. The point that I am trying to drive home is that as mothers we feel guilty about practically any and everything under the sun! Sometimes for factors that are within our control but many times for factors that are beyond our control. It is almost like guilt is a part of the package deal that comes along with motherhood!
It is this guilt that we as mothers need to come out of. It is fine if occasionally you feel like just leaving your child with someone and running away for a while or going for a trip with your friends without your child. In the previous generation even expressing such a desire would have been blasphemous, not any longer! We all need a break, even moms do! I am sure we can be better moms if we give ourselves these breaks.
Across centuries, across cultures, the mother-child relationship has been eulogized. The mother is undoubtedly the most important person in the child's life and her place can be taken by none. She is the epitome of sacrifice as she always puts her child before anything else. We grow up listening to such stories and as women, these values get ingrained in us. Because mothers are supposed to be totally selfless, any thought that goes against this value leads us to the path of guilt. We begin to feel guilty for everything that we feel is wrong with our child. The negative feelings soon get transferred to the entire family and affects the mental health of the family as a whole.
Even in extreme cases in my counseling sessions, where I felt that the parents were absolutely on the wrong track while bringing up their child, I have been able to sense that the intentions were never wrong, the method was. No mother can and will intentionally harm her child.
We need to stop experiencing this guilt about factors that are beyond our control like our child's weight or illness. And if we are feeling guilty about factors that were within control, we need to express regret, learn from our lessons and move on. Often guilt stems from our own comparison with other moms. We do know that it is unfair to compare our children with others. But doesn't the same rule apply to us? We can reduce our anxiety and feelings of guilt only when we stop comparing ourselves with other moms around us. Yes, there might be a stay at home mom, a master chef mom, a healthy child's mom around you, but that does not make you a lesser mom! Each mom knows best what works for her child. What works for one family may not work for another. Also, what works in one situation may not work in another for the same family.
Always remember the Sanskrit saying which states that a son may turn out to be a bad son but a mother can never be a bad mother. So pat your back, tell yourself that you are doing a great job and you are the best mom that your child could have!
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