I remember the first time I saw this quote – it really struck a chord with me; we were a week into the 7 week long summer holidays and I’d been let down on a couple of days childcare for Lily. I had ended up keeping her at home with me whilst I worked and had just got off a conference call with some senior management guys that she’d interrupted by calling out for juice. I laughed it off on the call – made a joke about her being the one who had primed me for dealing with all of their demands and made frantic gestures at Lily to be quiet. I felt so hugely guilty when I put the phone down – guilt at being unprofessional but also guilt at being annoyed with Lily for simply asking for a drink. Later on during the holidays she would turn to me on a day when I was trying to submit a project deadline and had again been let down on childcare, tears in her eyes, and ask why it was that I wasn’t able to take her to the park or play barbie; “All of my friends have their mummies at home looking after them”. Another perfectly timed stab of guilt right in the gut…
I feel guilty constantly for not being there for her in the ways I wish that I could. I wish that I could drop her off and pick her up from school every day. I wish it was me she ran to at the end of the school day, excited to see me and share her stories with me. I feel guilty that at the weekends there’s always so much housework and other things to do that deduct from the time we can spend together. I feel guilty when I mess up and forget homework, or her PE kit or an own clothes day or her gloves when the walk to school is chilly. I feel guilty when she tells me that I was the only parent not at their class assembly. I felt like the worst mum in the World when her sports day fell on a day when I had a work meeting halfway across the country, the look of pure disappointment on her face when I told her that neither me nor Scott would be there cheering her on made me feel sick to the stomach.
At the moment I’m feeling guilty because since being back at School in September she has hated every minute of it. She doesn’t like her new teacher, she feels as though the work is harder and un-achievable, she feels as though she’s constantly getting into trouble or doing things wrong. And I have no idea how to help. I tell her everyday that she is smart, that they only set her work at a level that they think she can achieve, that I am proud of her, and that schoolwork isn’t everything. But I can’t take away the sadness that she’s feeling and the guilt about that is driving me crazy.
I’m not stupid – I know that nobody is perfect, I know (thanks to my friends @my.life.with.littles and @prawnspringroll) that i’m not the only one who has an alter-ego called ‘Shouty Mummy’, I know that I shouldn’t compare myself to other parents and particularly not by what they post online (after all I’m a master at shoving mess out of the frame for instagram pictures *anyone else think that ought to be a transferable skill on my CV?* ). But despite knowing all this there is still a little (sometimes big) voice inside that lays on the guilt trip as thick as I like my nutella on toast…
I don’t know how to silence it but I’ve definitely realised something – all this guilt, well it means that I care, because if I didn’t care then it wouldn’t eat me up inside; it means that I am a good mum because I want my daughter to be happy and I care about her life being a happy one. And she might not realise it now, but when I work I am working to provide us with a better life – and to set an example to her that women can be successful.