Mother’s guilt didn’t make a huge appearance in my life until I had my second and third child. Suddenly, responding to my eldest’s needs seemed increasingly impossible at times. We watched a lot of TV. She was told to wait a lot longer than most 20 month old babies. She had to co-sleep with Daddy mostly, sometimes even if she screamed for Mummy. Learning about gentle parenting made all of the rest of parenting ideal with 3 young children, it was possible to still be a kind, loving and connected Mum in spite of the challenges having 3 little ones brought. There were times though I felt like I wasn’t enough. That each of my babies deserved a Mum each, or something. That they didn’t deserve to wait for a breastfeed, or wait for me to play… Sometimes that waiting meant that the activity never even happened at all. This led me to write the following poem.
Poem: Guilty Feelings For My Eldest Baby
These words just aren’t enough when you fill me with so much love
I can’t write my feelings about you as my head feels like mush
My heart pounds with guilt, feeling like I’m less than you deserve
But I know that our lives will be on an upward curve
I did not expect to adore you as much as I do
As my mind keeps turning, it always turns to you
Sometimes I wonder if you could possibly have a clue
Because for now you are young, unknowing… and naive too
One day you will know what true love we have today
Long may it continue, along this life-long enchanting way
How I Feel Now, With Hindsight
My philosophy to our gentle parenting journey is based on ‘how would that have made me feel if my Mum had done that to me.’ Even the mistakes or imperfect parenting decisions I’ve made have all been part of my rocky mountain path to get to the smoother flats we coast on now. I still feel bad when my eldest daughter asks for Mummy to take her to bed and I’m needing to breastfeed one of the twins to sleep at the same time. However, on the flip side, I now realise her asking for Mummy means we have a strong connection that she wants me there.
The above stage when I felt so helplessly sad for my daughter, taught her to have patience and empathy for her Mum and siblings. When she expressed her frustration, through physical hurt towards a baby, it taught me how to communicate empathetically with her so she could learn to ask for my help instead. If I had always been available to do the things she wanted as and when she asked, I may never have had the opportunity to help her learn these valuable life lessons. I also have taken these lessons in how to gently communicate with toddlers forward for interacting with the twins when they get frustrated too.
Now, in hindsight, I feel this was just a very small phase in the growth of our family. There’s no denying, it would have been ideal to have a doting granny available to help let my daughter get out or play. However, our family is us 5, through thick and thin. The vowes you make in marriage fit our family perfectly. “To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” That is what our family are, there for each other for better and worse. When I couldn’t give my daughter a hug as I had 2 babies breastfeeding, she learnt to take me for my worst. When she threw a tantrum and hit her brother or sister in anger – I learnt to take her for her worst.
Nothing can beat that. It’s what everlasting love is, the situations may be imperfect but that’s ultimately what make us have even more love for each other. We’re more than blood. We’re beautiful memories forever etched in time. The odd shadow effects bring out the spectacular colours, life and love. Imagine how lifeless and uninteresting the Monet painting below would be without the shadow and dark areas to bring out the colours and vibrancy of the rest of the picture. The same can be said for raising our children – being perfect always may not give the depth and make the child feel so loved as when the colours are brought out stronger and bolder by some darker times.