I know guilt more than most. As a mother, we are programmed to protect our children at all costs. And yet, my baby died. It didn't matter that it happened when I was in labour - possibly one of the riskiest time in a human being's life. The mere fact that he died 'on my watch' was enough to make me question every decision I'd made leading up to that point. Was it the bottle of wine I drank on a girls' weekend (before I even knew I was pregnant?). Was it the brie I ate, the midwife I chose or the fact that I opted for a non-intervention labour?
Of course, it was none of those things. It just, happened. Tragedy is like that. If things had have been different MAYBE the result would be too but, probably not.
Mumguilt it is pervasive and dangerous. It weighs down on us. It's feels like those dreams where the walls are closing in. It is choking and clawing and often we don't even know that we're living with it. It just takes over our thoughts and our actions, stopping us from living a more joyful life. Stopping us from connecting more to all the good that we have.
ME AND THE BUMP .....
In the beginning, this innate drive to protect our children was simply about making sure they were fed enough to survive, kept warm, and kept away from wild animals. Fairly simple compared to today. In today's world this protection comes in every decision we make. It comes in the form of providing just enough of the 'right' foods (whilst also not demonising the 'wrong ones' in case they grow up to have a an eating disorder). It comes in the pressure to breast feed, even when you know something's not right. It comes when choosing the right nursery or school. When saying YES to all those party invitations. It comes when we choose whether or not to go back to work, weighing up all the endless possibilities and 'what ifs'. It comes when we're deciding how to discipline, how much TV they can watch, what to do at the weekend - guilt is making your decisions for you more often than you know, or at least making you question e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, and waste precious energy doing so.
But when you let guilt drive the bus, it's all too easy to find yourself trying to DO, BE and HAVE it all. And when you live that way - always busy, always consuming, always questioning and doubting and planning and rhuminating, when there's no room for just be-ing yourself, your kids grow up with that same frantic, hamster wheel approach to life.
What YOU need, what your kids really need is for you to tell that Guilt to get to the back of the bus and let your true self do the driving. Your true self that innately knows what you need more of and less of. That keeping busy all day and then being so exhausted that the a boxset and box of chocolates seem like the only option in the evening.
So if you there's ONE thing I want you to do today, without fail. I want you to step outside, somewhere quiet if possible or even with the kids around, and do NOTHING for 15 whole minutes. No scrolling, no planning, no tidying. Just observe what's around you. Pay attention. Notice what you see, hear, smell, feel and let that experience enter your soul. Let it right in. This is the start of living a more 'authentic' and connected life. Of realising all that you have is enough. You can stop trying so damned hard. Hardwiring Happiness author, Rick Hanson call this 'Taking in the Good.
If you're ready to shrug off the mumguilt. To stand taller and breathe better, then do join the mailing list for regular inspiration and to be first to know about new offers and freebies to help you make more time for you, and less time for guilt.
Wishing you health & happiness,
PS. To read more of my story of life after loss, head here.