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Dear Mum Guilt, It's Time We Talked

21/09/2016 14:08

Dear Mum Guilt,

You've been an intruder in my head for almost seven years now. Lurking in the darkest corners of my mind, you were wholly uninvited. Yet there you fester, spewing out your spiteful taunts as you grow on a diet of my own self-loathing. You drip feed me your poison until you've clouded my judgement and I'm unable to think straight.

And if you're not whispering, you're flinging your insults at me in full audio with surround sound. I can hear you ok? There's no need to shout.

I've tried to ignore you for long enough. I thought not responding to you would eventually make you go away. But I can see now that's never going to happen.

I'll let you in on a little secret - your cruel words and jibes often keep me awake at night. You've made me cry more often than I care to admit (I bet you love that, don't you?) If causing me to criticise and loathe myself if your objective, let me tell you, you were succeeding.

Until now.

See I've decided that if we are to share this bustling and somewhat cluttered mind of mine, we need to find a way to co-exist peacefully. I didn't invite you in but you seem to have pulled up a chair at the table nonetheless.

Perhaps we can become friends of sorts? Whatever happens, I'm going to stand up to you from now on.

It's time we talked.

In the interests of friendship, you can call me Aims and I'll call you MG. Seeing as you have done most of the talking so far, it's my turn. Friendship is a two way street after all.

So listen up MG, here's the deal...

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I'm only human

Perhaps you made a mistake when you invaded my headspace. Were you aiming for a robot, a machine or a superhero perhaps? Was your GPS was slightly skewed the day you selected my head as your new residence?

I appreciate your desire for me to be perfect, but please know that I am not Super Woman. I'm just a human. In case you don't know much about us humans let me enlighten you on a couple of things. We breathe. And we make mistakes. Both are necessary and inevitable for us.

I'm learning, but it would help enormously if you refrained from doling out the criticism quite so often.

Yes, I just yelled again. They're experts at pushing my buttons those kids. Thank you for bringing it to my attention and don't worry, I do feel bad about it. I am trying not to yell. But sometimes it happens because, you guessed it, I'm not a machine. I can't just programme myself to behave in a certain way, no matter how much I wish I could.

If you see me making the same mistakes over and over then feel free to call me out. Otherwise, zip it.

I'm doing my best

Parenting is an ongoing learning process and there's no right way to do it. I'm doing my best ok? My best may not be perfect but it's all I've got. Are you with me, MG?

I have feelings and needs too. I need to look after and nurture myself in order to do the same for my kids (haven't you ever been on a plane? Don't you know what they tell you about the oxygen masks??)

So if you see me sitting down to read a book while the kids entertain themselves for a while, do me a favour and just leave me to it will you? Thanks.

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I appreciate your concern

Truly I do. Your presence in my head reinforces the fact that I care. I love. And I just want to raise happy, well-balanced kids. So I'm going to be gracious and thank you for that.

I'll admit it - sometimes the things you say to me are justified and I'm grateful to you for giving me the opportunity to change and grow.

However, for the most part your guilt-baiting is wholly unnecessary. It all seems to be a big game to you with my self-destruction being your main prize. That's not very nice is it MG?

Can you please try to tone it down a bit and not sweat the small stuff?

Yes, but

Since you shacked up in my head you delight in divulging what you think I'm doing wrong. You're not shy about expressing your opinion are you?

Well let me tell you something dear MG, I'm also doing a whole heap of stuff right. And from now on I'm going to stand up for myself and shout back. You may think it's amusing to point out all the stuff you think I suck at, but from now on I'll be ready to fire back my successes to you. You've bullied me for long enough MG.

The kids are fine you see. I love them and they know that. It's just you who doesn't.

I no longer do the comparison thing

If you've turned down Comparison Road, you may as well u turn because I don't go there anymore. So stop telling me about what everyone else is doing and why they're better parents than me. I'm not interested.

These days the only person I compare myself with is myself. I'm my own yardstick.

So I take your Facebook and your Pinterest and I raise you one. Let me tell you a secret. It's not real. There, I hope you feel happier now.

A little perspective if you please

Yes the kids are watching TV. Let's have a little perspective check shall we? Are they watching Freddy Kreuger? No. Have they been watching it all day? Also no. So just calm down will you?

Yes the kids have just enjoyed a sugary treat. Am I spoon feeding them sugar from the packet all day? Indeed I am not.

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I mean the other day you had me feeling bad about the fact most of the batteries in my son's toys don't work. This is a first world problem MG. He doesn't even care and I doubt he'll be calling up a therapist about it when he's older.

Sometimes, I need to work when the kids are around. That's ok, they'll live through it I'm sure. It may even do them some good to see me perched in front of my laptop, working on other things.

I'm not sure if you know anything about friendship so let me enlighten you. Friendship is a two way street with honesty at its core.

So there you have it MG, my truth.

I'm sorry if my resolve to finally stand up for myself has caused you some discomfort. You seem a little bewildered. If you feel the need to leave I won't stop you.

But if you stay and actually listen to what I have to say, perhaps we can work together in creating a more productive headspace? Less clutter and more work flows, that kind of thing?

I live in hope.

Aimee Foster is the co-founder of mum friendship website, Mum Amie, where she also blogs about parenting, well-being and baby loss.

(photo credits: author)

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