Guilt in Motherhood: a mother’s perspective

Photography: Katherine Heise |

By Fiona Chapman

Mummy guilt…We have all been there in some way or another. For some mothers, the wearing down guilty feeling is a constant presence. It’s like a dirty stain that you can’t get out in the wash. For others, it may just pop up occasionally on its own or may be triggered by an event or emotion. It’s a terrible feeling when you are thinking you might be screwing up your kids. It can be a massive burden which can take a toll on your mental health and set you on a downward spiral.

I am experiencing mummy guilt right now. I’m writing this post while my kids are playing with each other and I’m thinking, “Should l be spending my time with them? Does this make me a terrible mother?” Self-doubt is toxic. It creeps up on you like a mosquito in the bedroom when you are asleep. You just want to squash it but no matter how hard you try in the dark, you just can’t do it!

I know that the many things that I feel guilty about are not even worthy of any space in my brain. But it’s like we are programmed this way.

Am I a good mum? Am I a responsible parent? Am I spending enough time with my kids? Am I spending too much time? Are they watching too much TV? Do I take them outside enough? Do they have too many toys? Have I damaged them by yelling at them?

The list is endless. I could go on all day about my mummy experiences that make me feel guilty.

Then one day I am talking with a work colleague about this and I had a lightbulb moment. She says to me, “What advice would you give to a mother you were looking after who tells you that she was experiencing mummy guilt?” Bingo. What would I tell her? That she is a wonderful mother and doing the best she can. I would explore her strengths and give her positive feedback and encouragement. We need to celebrate what we are doing right! We all have things we could work on. That’s what makes us human and it’s called life. It doesn’t mean we are stuffing everything up.

I am currently re-examining myself. Yes, I am a good mother. I love my kids more than the universe (this is what I tell my kids), read them lots of books and try to feed them healthy foods (most of the time). I make sure they are warm when they feel cold, fed when they feel hungry, comforted when they are sad, washed when they are dirty and unconditionally loved totally and completely. I’m doing alright. I am a good enough parent and I’m happy with that.

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