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Motherhood Guilt – It’s Okay to F**k Up by Nicolas Haslett

Six. That’s how many times I’ve attempted writing this article on guilt. Why? Because each time I read back what I’d written I just couldn’t connect with my words emotionally. I was talking as a therapist writing an article, not as a mother baring her soul. So now, this is me talking with you; mother to mother about the one thing we never like to admit too often: how hard it can be and how often we f**k up!

I have two sons, aged one and three. They’re high energy, emotionally intense and neither of them sleep through the night yet. Just like their mama! They are the most beautiful little souls and I feel so incredibly blessed that they chose me to be their mother. Most of the time I just can’t believe how lucky I am. But I’m not here to talk with you about the good stuff, I’m here to keep it real and talk about the hard times. Because as you’ll know, there are definitely hard times.

My eldest son is a sensitive little soul; he feels everything intensely so when he’s happy he is the brightest light and the biggest joy to be around. But when he’s not happy? Let’s just say you’ll know about it. The tantrums are off the scale and I don’t know who told me they’d stop when he turned 3…but they were lying! When I was pregnant I promised myself that I would really ‘get it right’. I would raise him well, make sure he always knew he was loved and be a perfect mum for him. So that was me setting myself up for failure right there! Because perfection doesn’t exist. I wish it did, but we are spiritual beings having a human experience and imperfection is an important part of our journey.

Life has taught me that we tend to grow the most from our biggest challenges and struggles.

For a long time I felt guilty on a daily basis. In bed at night I would lay awake and think about what I’d done wrong, what I should’ve done better and how I wasn’t good enough for my children. I’d tell myself I’d try again tomorrow and then of course I’d ‘fail’ at being perfect then too. I might feel guilty for not playing with them enough, not giving them enough attention, looking at my phone too often instead of being fully present, letting them watch too much TV, being snappy or impatient with them etc. There were particularly challenging times, usually when I wasn’t feeling balanced or healthy within myself. When I stopped breastfeeding, my hormones struggled to adjust and I experienced depression for a couple of months. I still feel sad when I look back to that time; I was completely lost within myself, feeling numb a lot of the time and very disconnected from my life. It was impossible for me to be fully present with my son at all times and fully engaged in my role as his mother. I’ve since managed to let most of the guilt go. I say ‘most’ because I’m keeping it real with you, I’m not telling you that there’s a magic pill that will take all the guilt away – but I have definitely learnt to view things from another perspective; that Motherhood offers us an amazing opportunity to grow as a person.

Life has taught me that we tend to grow the most from our biggest challenges and struggles. It’s the raw and unpredictable that force us to look within, dig deep and find the strength we never knew existed. There is nothing quite like motherhood to strip you bare and reveal your deepest wounds and darkest shadow. Raising tiny humans is an incredibly intense and emotionally charged experience, so it makes sense that just as there are beautiful highs, there will be a good few lows too. We all have a shadow and this doesn’t miraculously disappear when we have children…quite the opposite. All of our ‘stuff’ (usually from childhood) comes to the surface to be healed, which can disrupt the peace for a while but I find it beautiful that parenting our children can help us to parent our own inner child and heal our own wounds from the past. I make mistakes, usually daily to some extent, but I’ve realised that I can choose guilt, or I can choose growth.

Our children don’t need us to be perfect, they need us to be real. When I lose my temper or snap at my children (which I do at times) I can choose to feel guilty and scared that I’ve ‘messed them up’ or I can choose to grow as a person and learn from it. I can ask myself what was really going on, where it’s rooted and what do I need to find balance. Usually I become snappy or less tolerant when I’m feeling very overwhelmed. So I am learning to ask for help, take time out and let the small things go. I can apologise to my children for raising my voice, let it go and move on. This is so much healthier than drowning in a pool of guilt that just creates feelings of panic and anxiety and is not productive in any way. When we forgive ourselves for our mistakes, we teach our children that they can do the same.

Guilt tends to be rooted in perfectionism. It’s a black and white, all or nothing frame of mind whereby one small mistake can feel like an absolute disaster.

Here are my top 3 tips to help you let go of guilt.

1Learn to be gentle with yourself too.
As conscious parents we spend so much time thinking about our children and if we’re meeting their physical, mental and emotional needs that we tend to forget about our own health and wellbeing. Practicing being gentle with yourself means taking time each day to look within and ask yourself how you are. It sounds simple, but it can make a huge difference. Usually, our attention is ‘out there’ on our children and daily tasks and we forget to check in with our own emotions too, until we’ve reached breaking point. Prevention is always better than cure, so don’t wait until you’re on the edge and about to lose your mind; set aside some time for a relaxing bath, some meditation or whatever it is that helps you to feel relaxed. Looking after yourself is not a luxury, it’s a necessity! I have plenty of free guided meditations available on the App Store, so do check out the links at the end of this article if you’d like to find out more.

2See the higher perspective.

Guilt tends to be rooted in perfectionism. It’s a black and white, all or nothing frame of mind whereby one small mistake can feel like an absolute disaster. If you’re beating yourself up over something and feeling guilty then just stop, take a breath and ask yourself if it’s REALLY as bad as it seems. Usually it isn’t. The perfectionist will always focus on the tiny bit that’s wrong, rather than everything else that’s right. For every one thing you believe you’ve done wrong, remind yourself of three things you’ve done right.

3Talk about it.

This is so important. Often, when we are feeling bad about something we’ve done we tend to keep it to ourselves for fear of being ‘found out’ or viewed as a ‘bad mother’. In my personal experience though, chatting to other close mum friends about your bad days and how you’ve f****d up, will only every reassure you that it’s a NORMAL and NATURAL part of motherhood. Maybe you think everyone else is getting it right and you’re struggling to keep your head above water, making one mistake after another? Simply talking about it to someone you trust can really put your mind at ease and help you to feel so much better.

So, from one mother to another: Whoever you are, wherever you are, you are not alone and we’re in it together. I send you love on this crazy, unpredictable ride we call motherhood. May we all learn from our mistakes, forgive ourselves unconditionally, and embrace the journey. Namaste.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


NICOLA HASLETT
is a British Holistic Therapist with a special interest in True Self Living. She trained in Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy after experiencing the life changing effects of these therapies herself and now she is dedicated to using her experience and wisdom to help others.

With a passion for helping others, Nicola is the co-owner of publishing company Aluna Moon Publishing which produces self-help and meditation apps, recordings and online courses to help others relax, heal and come back to their true authentic selves. Nicola’s apps and guided meditations have now been played more than 3 million times worldwide and are especially popular on the free meditation app, Insight Timer.

Aside from her work in Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy, Nicola feels passionate about natural, gentle parenting and enjoys writing articles that will support, encourage and inspire parents everywhere to live more naturally and authentically.

To find out more about Nicola’s self-hypnosis and free meditation recordings please visit: www.alunamoon.com. You can also view a selection of her free Apps at http://ow.ly/UCji8 and find free meditations and online courses on www.insighttimer.com/alunamoonpublishing