“You are not born a mother, you become one!” that’s what the famous french psychologist Françoise Dolto used to say. You are not born guilty, you become guilty … probably by becoming a mother! Let me explain…
The “Madonna Mother”
Guilt invades the mother-to-be as soon as her pregnancy is announced! The mother cannot help thinking of the last cigarette she may have smoked the day before, the last glass of wine swallowed when she did not know yet, or that very bad nervous crisis – so sad for her own health and that of her child – she let explode yesterday… A politically correct mom being the one who never drinks, who does not smoke and who has a constant mood… It is the image of the “Madonna mother” that was deeply instilled in you since your young age.
The first weeks of pregnancy often lead to intense fatigue but also to the famous “hormonal storm”. This major hormonal upheaval may provoke depressive thoughts in women (which are not acceptable in our society since a future mother should necessarily be happy and fulfilled), dark thoughts and especially lead to incomprehensible crying attacks. Crying when you are supposed to experience the greatest happiness may be really guilty…
Not An Easy Task…
The mother-to-be provides the vital bond to the child she carries in her womb. On it depends the whole life of the future toddler. Carrying a pregnancy to term without making mistakes is a huge responsibility. Food matters, but also mood and mind. And again, an inexperienced mom may panic and not feel up to the task. Having a small being growing in the womb is not an easy task when you think about it!
Let suppose, at first the mother did not want that pregnancy, even though she is now very happy, then guilt may predominate. She may blame herself for not having fully desired this child “like other mothers do”. In fact, many women get pregnant “by surprise” but don’t shout it from the rooftops…You are as everyone else! No need to feel guilty! Our grandmothers did not plan their pregnancies. If this possibility is offered to you nowadays, then you can feel the guilt of not having been able to plan or anticipate what was coming… Especially if your life looks like a mess right now…
Troubles During Pregnancy
Mothers over 40 receive more medical care than younger mothers. The simple fact of bringing up possible problems as diabetes can make the mother-to-be feel guilty.
When there are problems during the pregnancy and the mother is threatened with losing her baby, she may lose confidence in her ability to deliver. If the father is desperate by a difficult situation or a risky pregnancy, the mother-to-be may also feel guilty for not offering him the image of an idyllic couple facing a perfect pregnancy, like those we see in TV movies. Imagine, the pregnant woman in her big white sweater, showing off her belly near the fireplace in an immaculate living room, a certain image of the happiness that we may have been force-fed in our youth…
To Breastfeed Or Not To Breastfeed? That is the question!
What is breastfeeding if not to achieve the image of the beautiful lactating Madonna, surrounded by a halo of light, shrouded in the heavens, à la Boticelli? Beware of the one who can not breastfeed her child! In a society where the return to nature predominates, it could seem “suspicious”. That said, I breastfed my two children for the long term (13 months for the first, 14 months for the second) but I received a lot of guilty commentaries as: “But you are not going to breastfeed your child until at its 5 years old anyway! ” My pediatrician also criticized me for offering a long breastfeeding! Incredible !
To Work Or Not To Work?
If you work and let your child to a nanny, it makes you feel guilty because you feel like you are missing out on part of their early childhood. People might say : “She prefers her career to her child!”. If you quit your job to devote yourself to your child, you may be accused of being a lazy woman who no longer wants to work… And if you are a mompreneur like me and take care of the kids while working at home you will probably hear this: “She is never 100% at what she does!” The guilt is exacerbated over and over again by those around us, even by nice people who don’t mean to hurt you! Most of them are guided by the unconscious memory of our society whispering a mother must be judged whether she is good or bad and that it has been so since the dawn of time!
Sick Because Of You?
Let’s not even talk about the times your child gets sick. Did you cover it badly? Have you put it too close to the radiator or into an air flow? Did you wash your hands efficiently after coming home? In fact, all children get colds and get sick because they build up their immunity but for you it always look as a tragedy because of the guilt you may feel!
An invisible inquisitor points the finger at you: “You are guilty of that too!”. Not to mention that the simple fact of giving life is also accepting to give death which, one day, when you are no longer in this world, will come with it. We give life and death at the same time, that’s the rule of the game my poor lady!
Guilt Comes Free With Toddlers!
In conclusion, the concept of guilt comes free with toddlers! The best thing you can do is accepting that it is an integral part of motherhood! Do not try to fight this guilt because the more it is your enemy the more you will strengthen it! Over time I have learned to let go of my guilt. I said a lot, “I will not feel guilty!” when I was given commentaries about the education I provided to my children. Today I refuse to talk about education with people who have never had any child! I also realized that I should have said: “YOU won’t make me fall into guilt!” instead of “I will not feel guilty!”.
Do Not Feed Your Guilt!
Avoid observing the guilt felt, but, instead, try to develop plans for (and with) your child. It’s not by trying to get rid of what bothers us that we get out there, but by building something else, a new story that really makes sense. As a jealous woman must learn to build her self-confidence rather than fight her sick jealousy, the guilty mother must learn to give substance to other emotions such as sharing, improving her life, improving the link to the father of her child etc.
The guilt will disappear when you start to invest time and will into common projects related to the child or to the family cohesion.