The sweetest gift

Why is mum guilt such a real and often daily thing?  Why is it that when they’re tucked up in bed you look at them and think; “why can’t I feel these in-love and mushy feelings towards them when they’re up and about, climbing the walls and generally driving me around the bend?”  I definitely experience far too much mum guilt and I’m desperately trying to find means and ways to manage it better so that when I get to that point in the day I can feel better about how the day went.

Daf pointed out to me last night that I seem to get all soppy over the girls in the evenings.  Maybe that’s true.  I’m tired, worn out from the day and therefore, likely to be more emotional.  But all of a sudden they seem to be my world, what I live for and the reason I make sacrifices.  I would love to have that feeling at other points in the day too.  I have found a few ways recently to allow this to happen so I thought it only fair to share.

My sister once introduced me to the concept of the “future self”.  What would future Rachel make of this choice/action/attitude?  I have found this to be incredibly helpful.  As I’m about to blow my top or say/do something I might regret, on occasion I stop and think; “how would future Rachel feel about this?”  The answer is usually that she’ll be upset or cross with herself.  If I am able to capture this thought I am usually able to pull myself together.

Since having children I have found anger in me which I thought disappeared after my teenage years.  I have buttons that are easily pushed and result in volcanos erupting.  I am not proud of this and it becomes my main source of mum guilt.  My reactive state often prevents me from being able to think about future Rachel, let alone gage future Rachel’s feelings.  However, recently I have found a new way to help manage my pushed buttons.  I have created for myself a very tranquil image in my mind – in this image, I am in a lightly shaded forest with a beautiful brook shimmering in the sunlight as it flows gently over the rocks in its path.  Sounds idyllic, right?!  So what?  Well, I have tried (and it has actually worked) to picture myself there when I feel I am getting tense.  When I feel tense I also feel a real need to exert some stress energy, and we all know as parents, that doesn’t always end up as we’d like.  However, by taking a minute to visit this image in my mind I seem to have somehow managed to park that negative energy and breathe in some calm.  You may be thinking, what is this crazy, hippy mum ranting on about, but believe me it as worked and I think it’s worth sharing!

The high and constant demand of being a mum is challenging and we all need a space in which we can calm down.  This is not always possible when it’s 5 o’clock (or otherwise known as grizzle o’clock) and Awena is crying because she’s tired and wants attention, Poppi is taking about five years to eat her dinner and her manners are comparable to our smelly pink animal friends.  I can’t physically remove myself from the situation, but I can mentally clock out for 30 seconds and then return with a newfound lease of life (until I need to revisit my tranquil space less than a minute later).  Whatever it might be for you, it’s worth a shot, right?  If it means you can get to the end of the day feeling like you haven’t failed at every given moment (because you will do less well at some) then surely that is a good thing.

The thought I am going to leave you with is to encourage you.  As mums, we must remember that we are all human.  We are not perfect, we have never been perfect and we will never be perfect on this earth.  And that is ok!  As long as we continue to do our best, apologise and seek forgiveness where needs be and persevere through the tough times I strongly believe that we will come out the other side with wonderful, well-rounded, polite (and hopefully well-manned) children.  So, my challenge to you this week is to find your “happy place” (!); that space where you can spend a few seconds, regroup, take a deep breath, and answer to “mummy” for the 350, 987, 948th time that day from a place of calm!