Pleading guilty

Motherhood is pretty much synonymous with guilt. And unfortunately, this is something you do not realise until you’re already neck deep in it 24X7. And though difficult, it is still possible to deal with the other side effects of being a mother, be it lack of sleep, interrupted meals, a sore body, extreme hair loss (that too of the expensive straightened variety), the guilt, not so much.

It starts fairly early, much before the squirmy little thing is brought to you in a bundle and presented, and you respond with a dazed smile, unsure of how much of this is true, and how much is induced by the anaesthesia, the pain killers and the bright lights of the room. It starts the moment the faint pink line confirms that you now house another being, and in certain OCD cases, even before, because you know, you never know.

This guilt takes numerous forms, it might be in that one sip of coffee you took from The Dude’s mug, because seriously, caffeine when pregnant, do you know nothing? Or that one day you forgot the thyroid medication, because you know how important thyroid is for the baby’s development? Or that last movie you watched in the cinema hall in the 6th month even after reading that the baby can now hear, but you still choose your fun over the baby’s comfort. And in that doctor prescribed medicine you took once in a while when the nausea was unbearable, because some random people said they would harm the baby.

It obviously gets worse when the little one is out in the big bad world. Every gram of weight-loss makes you feel like that you’re just not fit for this. Every time the baby cries, and your mother says ‘She must be hungry’ and the first thought that comes to your head is not ‘Oh, my poor baby’, but ‘But I just fed her!’. Every time, you give yourself that extra minute before getting up to console a bawling baby in the middle of the night, fervently hoping she would go back to sleep.

Once the basic routine is in place, you think this is now going to get better. You think. In reality, the list grows. God forbid if you’re a working mom, there is yet another angle to it. Now you feel guilty for every moment you spend away from the baby. Which is understandable. But the fun part is when you start feeling even worse for every moment that you spend away from the baby, the reason not  being work.  Because you see, you’re already this heartless mom who chooses to work over spending precious time with her baby. And on top of that, you want time to yourself too! I mean seriously, how un-motherly can you be?

So you work your ass off, trying to do justice to this role that you so willingly took up, and spend quality time with the little one. It is fun, the baby’s happy and you feel better about yourself. But then, the body has it’s limitations, and you feel tired, and while playing with her, you let yourself think ‘ Wouldn’t it be good if she could sleep for a while’ and Bam! There it is! All that teeny weeny amount of good feeling you just garnered, replaced by a truckload of guilt. Yes, just like that, in one second. That’s how seriously the guilt takes its job of ‘being around’.

The funny bit is,  I doubt things would have been any better had I been a stay-at-home-mom taking care of the baby the whole day. Because then, technically I would be being a good, dedicated mom, but I am dead sure that once in a while, frustration would hit me. And then when it does, I would then feel guilty about that. Yes, about being frustrated with having to take care of my baby. A decision that took out of my own choice.

So you end up justifying everything that you do, which you think isn’t what an awesome mother would do. You tell yourself that you have a life, and everyone needs time off, and that the baby would want you to do this for yourself.  And you do it all the time, in your head, over and over again, when it strikes you that the very fact that you’re having to justify anything, even to yourself, makes you pretty pathetic anyway. Like I told you, there’s no way out.

Which is why I know for a fact that this is an unavoidable deal. This whole feeling inadequate, irresponsible, not-good-enough business. And I know this is mutually exclusive of the scenario, not at all situation dependent. As in, accept it, you’re a mother, guilt is your forte. It is going to be there, no matter what.

And looks like this is for the long run. I mean, I can already see myself. Feeling bad for the class she missed because I had a close, or the question she could  have answered had I taught her a little more, or that movie all her friends’ parents took them to, but I didn’t, because the weekend was just so busy. And I am not sure if I am mentally prepared for it at all.

Or perhaps I am just over-analysing things, and in reality,  things do get better eventually. Considering who would have thought that it was possible to sustain  on 6 hours of broken sleep, or  eat with a baby in one hand, the plate in another, or decipher the dialogues of the movie over and above the shrieking and sounds of the bowl being banged on the steel cupboard, but it did happen. And in the same way, one fine day, you will wake up with all the guilt gone, with the confidence and a true belief that you’re doing the best you can, and that it couldn’t get better for your child.

And while at it, perhaps also find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, you know, the one being guarded by a Unicorn.

38 thoughts on “Pleading guilty

  1. Wow..good post!!

    Very true..i completely agree with you..even though i was at a stay-at-home mom for 2 years, the guilt was always, when i am a working mom, the guilt is still there!!

    I have stopped listening to other people’s comments..just as you concluded-I am doing the best i can!!:)

  2. Errr….I dont want to scare you, but yes, it does get worse..exactly what you wrote, I wish I had spent time on her homework, I wish I had given her a better idea on the best out of waste competition, etc etc…its okie DI, thats all we can do, and we do what we can the best…the guilt is never going to go…I am 30 (make it 31 next month) and my Amma still worries and screams her head off at me (yep did that on Friday, I had a very bad scolding from her after some years) on how I dont seem to care about my health and take more than I can chew…

    Its just life long darling…you are doing a splendid job…dont get too worried about it okie?

    1. 😦 😦 You do scare me.
      In any case, I will sit and wait for Zen mode to arrive 🙂
      And you’re right, my amma worries ALL the time about me too. So, I guess, I get that. Sigh.
      Thanks for being encouraging though! 🙂

  3. fir kya hua …

    why would you want to listen to what others are saying , end of the day the parents know what is best for their child..

    Life is funny it will remain funny till the last day the question is do we smile or CRY…

    1. No Bikram. That’s the funny thing. No one ever says anything to me. No one. Everyone is encouraging and positive. Family, friends, acquaintances, all of them. It is only me myself, who is a pain 🙂 Not very proud of it, but it’s true!

  4. well penned ! I am a SAHM for my 2 kids, and looking forward to joining work next year (after a sabbatical of 10 long years); I have pretty much enjoyed seeing my 2 kids slowly becoming independent and blossoming in to good human-beings and am glad that I was there with them when they needed me; but the guilt factor comes and goes, there are moments of frustration and things do become crazy once in a while. I don’t think the feeling of guilt completely fades out, coz we are after all humans. But like you say constantly motivating ourselves with the thought that we are doing our best has a positive effect and the self-induced misery seems trivial after some time.

    1. 🙂 I knew I would have comments from moms who felt the same! And that was one reason I wrote this. I am already feeling better! 😀

  5. Such a wonderful post. Im not a mother yet but it made me think of various what-ifs. You really are doing all you can but I guess the guilt factor is built in to all mothers. 🙂 I’m sure I’ll get it too. So I can’t ask you to chill but yes, do all you can to avoid feeling guilty, but not so much that you have to give up your things altogether.

  6. err..let me stand away from all the moms here because I think I finally found my way away from the guilt thing. I realized that I was overdoing things and was not happy, which in turn meant that I tried to compensate for it. Endless cycle that. The end result was my unhappiness would rub off on the kids. So I asked myself what was the point? What was my end goal? The answer was that the kids be happy. So now everytime I start to feel guilty, I ask myself, ‘forget the guilt, are the kids happy/sad by my doing this?’ If they are happy, I give myself a break. If they are sad, I find out ways to fix it.

    Beats the endless cycle of guilt. And keeps the kids, D and me happy.

    1. That’s the whole point I guess! Zo is too young for me to know if she is happy yet, but The Dude is, and he feels that it’s all good. I am hoping I do reach this realisation for myself as well and lead a relatively calmer life! Sigh! 🙂

  7. Jasmine

    Hey, Chill DI….part of life…i knw dat i m not experienced enuf to tell u all dis, but trust me, its a passing phase, and its gonna pass soon….and wen u will look bak at it, u will smile at urself 🙂

  8. Jayashree Padmanabhan

    You are a wonderful mom ! You dote on your baby and give her quality time. She will grow up into a confident and happy child and she will be very proud of you . Trust me, a confident and happy mother who also knows how to live her life , is the best example for her daughter . Keep the communication lines open , that is the secret of successful moms. So stop feeling guilty and watch your little one grow happily ! 🙂

  9. I am also quite at a loss of what to say, except that, I am sure, despite all that you say, you must be an awesome Mom! 🙂
    And also, I don’t know any Mom who is not awesome. I think they are meant to be like that, just like Dads are meant to be right, *always*.. 🙂

  10. When the time comes, I think I am going to be one mom who won’t be bitten by the ‘guilt’ bug. I’ve read blogs for far too long to know how common this mommy guilt is. And how it rears its head at all times. And how futile this whole thing is. I am learning from you, and taking notes. So I won’t be writing similar posts. Or so I think 😛

  11. Aiyyo DI, don’t worry too much. Donno about now, but when she’s a teenager, she’ll love you for being a working mom coz she can get all the freedom and have the house to herself without mommy over her head tokofying her all the time 😉
    SO chill maaro auntyji!

  12. Dil On The Rocks

    You spoke my mind. Atleast some of it..for now. I agree with what you said. Its going to be interesting to see how I will deal with the guilt * 2. And yes..take it easy…we know what we are doing. Others dont…

  13. So true, so true… Am a sahm on a two year sabbatical and frequently visited by the guilt bug…now that am planning to join back, the old guilt bug has a new variant:(

    And the biggest problem is, you feel so guilty if you dont feel any guilt!!! Nice blog

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