Having been on maternity leave and what with the hectic life that involves two children (three if you count the husband!) I haven't had a second to write a blog. However, this is something which I feel is so important to talk about. You or a friend may be going through the same, and I know my mental health has always been so much better being able to talk to others or hear that someone else is or has experienced what I have.
Going to bed last night I had everything planned out in my head for how this morning was going to go. I would get up and express a bottle of milk for Rosalie as I hadn't managed to get my desired amount yesterday, I would then feed her, get myself ready, sort the car seats into my mum's car and off I would go to the venue. But oh how different the reality was!
For a start, I didn't wake up until 7:05. I am supposed to leave no later than 7:45am so I knew I had a battle on my hands. Rosalie stayed asleep so I decided to express first. But would the pump work? Of course not! I fiddled around with it, tried pumping both sides and nothing was working. I was stressing which I know doesn't help either. In the end I got about 2oz. I wanted at least 4 but I was running out of time. Thank goodness I had done it yesterday and had a stash in the freezer. Rosalie then woke up. She has a terrible cough at the moment so spent a good 5 minutes choking on her own spit before throwing it up. Not what I needed! Long story short, she eventually fed and I was able to get myself ready to go.
Mum arrived. Changing bag wasn't packed. Neither of the kids were dressed or had breakfast. I just threw everything at her and hoped it would all be fine. Now for the battle of the car seats. My mum's car is so difficult to get the car seats into. The ISOfix points are covered by material...behind the seatbelt clips. I mean, what a ridiculous place to put them! So it is never a simple clip in and off you go like they show on the adverts. It is a physical battle which takes at least 10 minutes, except now I have two car seats to fit so make it 20 minutes! After finally fixing them in, I said bye to the kids, said good luck to my mum and off I went. To be fair, I was only 10 minutes late.
The drive was stress free. Almost. I took some deep breaths and enjoyed the child free peaceful drive. I didn't even put the radio on. I set up the classes, ran the classes and packed away at the end; child free. I felt like I had had a burst of energy which was released as I relaxed into the thought of only having responsibility for me. Then, on the drive home it hit me and it hit me hard. Mum Guilt. I backtracked through my day so far and spiralled into a tunnel of guilt.
I felt guilty that I hadn't got up earlier to be able to provide Rosalie with more fresh milk in case she needed it as mummy wasn't there to comfort her.
I felt guilty I hadn't got either of them dressed or given them breakfast like our normal routine.
I felt guilty that I hadn't had time to play or chat very much with George.
I felt guilty that Rosalie was poorly for the first time I left her for longer than 10 minutes.
I felt guilty that I had said a quick goodbye because I was concentrating so hard on not being late.
I felt guilty that I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the drive. I actually felt guilty for having my own enjoyment!
I felt guilty for not thinking about them every second I was away from them.
I felt guilty for being too busy to text or phone more than once to check they were ok.
I felt guilty I hadn't checked the changing bag last night to make sure everything they could possibly need was in there.
Mum Guilt. Mum Guilt is real. It hits you so hard when you least expect it.
I spent the entire car journey home, desperate to get to them that much quicker. I met them at the beach. They were having a great time. Rosalie was sleeping.
I felt guilty that it hadn't been me sharing that experience with them.
I felt guilty that I hadn't told my mum where Rosalie's hat was so she wasn't wearing one.
But then I stopped and watched them both. I saw that they were both ok. I saw that they had had a good day. Then Rosalie woke up and gave me the biggest smile and grabbed at my face and it suddenly took all the guilt away. That guilt became relief. She was pleased to see me and I her. They had survived and so had I.
Mum Guilt is real and until you have had children, you will find it hard to understand. But to those mums who think they have let their kids down because they haven't played for every second that they could have. To those mums who put their kids to bed without a story because they were so tired but you know it helps their development. To those mums who feel guilty for not talking to them every second of every minute you spend together. To those mums who feel the guilt I feel on a daily basis. To all those mums out there who feel that guilt and beat themselves up because they don't think they are good enough; you are. You are all your little one needs. They don't judge you or hold grudges. They love you. You are their whole world and they will wait for you to return from your day at work or your leisure activity. For your mental health, you need you time. A time to be your own entity. And boy does it make the return to them so much sweeter, knowing you have had some time for yourself but also knowing they are ok when you return.
I don't think that guilt will ever go away, even when they are 30! So give yourself a break and don't be so hard on yourself. I'm definitely going to try.