Your Greatest Critic

Nobody tells you that when your long-awaited child arrives, born with it is a deep sense of guilt. It buries itself within your chest, and will remain with you always.

Even those of us who are confident that we are generally good parents still carry this guilt. It twinges when we recall times that we lost our tempers and raised our voices. It rears it’s ugly head when we must tell our toddlers that mummy can’t play right now, mummy’s busy. When we look back over our children’s lives, it reminds us of all of the things we did wrong.

your greatest critic

I tend to believe that this guilt, although uncomfortable, can be a positive thing. It forces us to examine ourselves as parents, and motivates us to do better in the future. It doesn’t allow us to overlook our raised voices and less-than-positive words to our children. It helps us to learn and grow in our roles as parents, and steers us towards the right choice. It is this guilt that makes us good parents.

Sometimes, it is easy to believe that others are judging and criticising us for our parenting choices, especially if you feel insecure in the decisions you’ve made.

However, I personally believe that our greatest critics are ourselves. And this is no wonder given the  world we live in. Up to date information and a diverse range of differing opinions and theories are available at our fingertips via the internet, and although this is helpful, it can cause us to over-examine things at times.

Take this as an example – I am a babywearer. For the first 7 weeks of Squish’s life, he spent pretty much all day in the sling. He didn’t ride in a pushchair until he was 2 months old, and even now his pushchair use is sporadic. However, I don’t feel judged for carrying my baby everywhere – on the contrary, I feel judged for NOT wearing him on the rare occasions that he goes in the pushchair instead of the sling. This is simply down to the fact that I am well aware of the benefits of babywearing, and want only the best for my child. It’s easy to forget that not everybody is as passionate about natural parenting practices as I am, and that there are very few (sane) people in the world who would accuse me of being a bad mother purely on the basis of how I choose to transport my child.

And you know what? I used to feel ashamed when buying formula, too (my oldest son was combination fed). At the checkout I would have to suppress the rising urge to inform the shop assistant, and anybody else who happened to be within earshot, that I was in fact breastfeeding almost entirely. And I’ll bet for damn sure that those people couldn’t have given a rats backside how I was feeding my baby.

It’s something I am working on. Yes, I am guilty of making snap judgements about others – aren’t we all – but I correct myself immediately and remind myself that there is a multitude of possible reasons why people make the choices that they do, and quite frankly, it is none of my flippin’ business anyway. Who the hell am I to judge? And I’ll bet that most other mothers feel this way, and go through a similar thought process as I do.

The moral of the long, rambly story – Guilt is not a bad thing, in moderation.  Own your decisions, own the cards you were dealt, learn from them and move on – and when that nasty, self depreciating voice arises in your mind, dismiss it and remind yourself that you are, in fact, a good parent.  After all, if you weren’t a good parent, you wouldn’t care.

Comments

  1. says

    Just recently, I’ve worked through a lot of guilt about our first born and it made me realize that everybody feels guilty about practically everything. Nobody is immune. I feel guilty when I look at my son’s first picture of his life and a big bright hospital light is shining in his eyes. Really? 99% of American babies are born in hospitals and this makes me feel guilty? Ridiculous.

    And, I am way way too quick to judge mamas who do these differently than me…..maybe that should be my New Year’s Resolution….

    I like this post a lot!

    • says

      Oh I know exactly what you mean. My eldest was a medicated hospital birth which i found very degrading and traumatic, and it was followed by months of PPD. I still feel so guilty that he didn’t get the same great start in life that his little brother did. But you’re right, everybody feels guilty about something, and if it wasn’t that it would be something else!

      And good on you for admitting that you judge others too. Everybody does it, and like guilt, no-one is immune. I think i’ll make it my new years resolution too :) thanks for commenting!

  2. says

    So, so true! When I feel the guilt rising (usually accompanied by a hot flush of anger) I now take stock of what is triggering it and it almost always comes from within.

    Lol about the formula buying – I was exactly the same. Probably bought 5 cans all up and each time I would feel like the other people in the aisles were judging me harshly.

  3. April says

    I think that the amount of guilt we feel is related to (and fluctuates with) our self esteem. Whenever we have a doubt in our self esteem, we doubt our decisions (parenting among them) and we feel guilt about whatever it is we ‘should’ be doing. Perhaps working on raising our self esteem independent of our parenting will be reflected in how we feel about ourselves as parents. Then, when we feel better about ourselves as parents, we might feel less guilt about our decisions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.