Like a gadzillion other things I didn't know before I had my Puttachi, I had no idea that being a mother involved lugging around a huge sack of guilt. A totally unnecessary sack, I should add, which, even if you try to avoid, creeps stealthily up behind you and attaches itself to you.
Oh well, I've thrown a few things out of the sack from time to time, and a few things get added to them along the way - let me bring it all out into the open.
Things I've felt guilty about, but not any more:
- Eating before I feed Puttachi - There have been times when we've come back home late for lunch, and both Puttachi and I have been starving. I'd hasten to feed Puttachi first, fighting the rats in my stomach, and lose my patience and sanity on the way. S~ pointed out to me that two minutes of extra starvation won't hurt Puttachi, two minutes being the time I need to chomp on a banana or down a glass of milk - enough to give me energy to feed Puttachi with calm and patience. That was one of the best pieces of advice anybody has given me. I now eat guiltlessly even when Puttachi is hungry, because I know that I can be that much better a mother when not hungry.
- I'd feel guilty about wanting to read or go for a walk, or wish for some time of my own when Puttachi was demanding my attention. I'd attend to her, while every fibre of my being wanted to do otherwise. But now I realize that if I'm happy and content, I can give her the quality time she wants. So I plonk her down with a favourite toy, tell her not to disturb me, and lose myself in a book for some time - even five minutes - just five minutes can do the trick.
Actually, I tell this to all those working moms who feel guilty - think about it, which is better for your child? A happy mom they see only in the evenings, or a grouchy, grumpy, dissatisfied mom that they have to put up with for 24 hours? Do whatever makes the best person out of you - all for the happiness of the child.
- Making Puttachi miss naptimes or mealtimes, or feeding her with less than a balanced meal, because I need to do something else. One day without proteins will not malnourish her. One missed nap will just make her cranky. But it is worth it if I can feed her with something convenient, make her miss a nap and drag her along with me to go out, visit people or places and have fun. This attitude stood us in good stead when we had to do all the travelling around UK.
Guilt I've been working on removing:
- Not being the perfect mom - I have had to step out of the shadow of my perfect mom - who, in spite of soul-deadening problems, was always caring, patient and loving with us - who gave up her other interests for us, who tried to shape us into confident, independent women. I'm trying to tell myself that it is okay not to be like her, and that I can be a good mom in my own way.
- Pushing away the guilt I feel when I scold Puttachi or give her a little whack on her little bottom. Her crumpled-up face immediately tugs at my heartstrings and makes me feel miserable, but I have to force myself to remember that this is for the best - for making her a decent, thoughtful part of society.
- Not feeling guilty when I lose my patience with her. I am human, after all, in spite of the endless spring of patience I've discovered after I've become a mother.
But there are a few things in which I'm still neck-deep in guilt:
- The state of my house. It is just a functional home, with all necessary things. I keep the kitchen clean and hygeinic, but many other surfaces around the house that are reeling under dust cannot say the same thing. Stuff needing to be picked up, cupboards wanting cleaning, shelves needing organization - my house is all that and more. I've always dreamt of a pretty and clean house - but I'm only just able to manage running a sane house.
It is not like I don't have the time. But in that time, I'd rather read or write or spend time with Puttachi. These "non-essential" things come last in my priority list, and they just remain there. Last. Undone. I feel terribly guilty about this, especially because S~ likes a spic and span house, and so comes back home after a long day at work and tries putting it all in order.
- I feel guilty about putting Puttachi first all the time. I know it is natural, and I know that nobody carries any grudge against me for that. But yet, I feel guilty. That she takes priority over everybody else. That her well-being is more important to me than that of anybody else. I feel rather like a traitor to my other loved ones for feeling this way.
Things I've never been guilty about:
- Being a SAHM. I've never felt bad that I've been wasting my BE and MTech degrees, that my brains are rusting. It is probably because I've never been too happy being a working woman, and I enjoy this life. I have a thousand interests, more than I have time for, and my day is always full, without a dull moment. I do things I love and keep my brain in working order. And if anyone asks me, "Are you just a housewife/mom?", I tell him/her that I am much more than that - I am a -
..... and so there. And if any of you is suffering from SAHM guilt, hit yourself on the head with this list.
So, Fight that Mommy Guilt!
[Written for this. ]