When I was expecting my first child, there’s one thing I promised myself I’d never do. Yes, I’d try not to swear, and I’d do my very best to keep the Raspberry Smirnoffs to a minimum (my failure to do the latter requires a whole separate post). But the one thing I would never do is twat around indulging in mummy guilt.
I really, really hate mummy guilt. It drives me up the wall. Oh, I feel so awful, am I making the right decision, am I a good enough mother, am I letting them down, blah blah blah. I just want to jump up and shake the guilty mummy, yelling as loudly as I possibly can right into her guilty face:
SHUT THE FUCK UP! All this twatting about with mea culpas, it’s helping your children HOW, exactly?
And then, while I’m being done for common assault, guilty mummy will of course take a long hard look at herself and see the error of her guilty ways.
Mummy guilt isn’t just self-indulgent, it’s also self-aggrandising. Hey, get a load of my guilt. Bet I’m the guiltiest, shittiest mum. Bet I’m more scummy than you. It’s competitive slummy-mummy-ness. Alison Pearson’s I don’t know how she does it may be yet another thing I reference without having read, but I, like everyone else, have heard the story of Kate Reddy “distressing” shop-bought pies for the school bake sale. Have you ever “distressed” shop-bought pies? If not, don’t you think you might be getting a bit up yourself, a bit too comfortable in your perfect mummy-ness? And ironically, that in itself means you’re not as good a mummy as the rest of us, the pie-distressers. Get back down here with us. Feel the guilt. That’s what makes you a mum.
Of course, as you have no doubt already guessed, I have totally failed to avoid the mummy guilt trap myself. I’m always wallowing in it, me. Part of the reason I have this blog is to draw attention to how rubbish I am. Look at me, everyone! Look at me being shit! This isn’t mere posturing. I really do feel shit, an awful lot of the time. But I guess I think that by writing it down I’m at least acknowledging the shitness. I’m taking it on board, and allowing everyone else to acknowledge it too. And if I am the shittest mum ever then, hey, at least I’m excelling at something mummy-related.
As anyone who’s read other posts here might have guessed, I also exaggerate, a lot. I don’t really wish my youngest hated books and would just stare at the television so I could be left alone (okay, I do a bit. But not all the time). But then I think if I exaggerate, and you think I’m worse than I am but still don’t call social services, then that means I’m still above the line. I’m shit but I’m not actively abusive. Hey, kudos to me! Alternatively, this could of course also mean that you would report me to social services but just can’t be arsed because you don’t have an altruistic bone in your body. I just don’t know, but I’ll take the interpretation that flatters me the most (it also flatters you the most, but that’s obviously a secondary concern).
So, if you are a mummy reading this, do you feel this way too? Do you reckon you’re guiltier than me? What I’m asking, really, is do you fancy a guilt-off? The shittest person wins.