Since I became a mom I have felt this prevalent guilt. I talked about it with my friends but was afraid to write about it. What if people think that I am crazy? No matter how many articles you read about guilt and post-natal depression, it is still a taboo. But it is too common not to be spoken about. Several of my girlfriends suffered from post-natal depression. They did not talk about it until I gave birth and started feeling funny. I realized that there are so many things about motherhood that remain secret. When asked why they did not share their feelings with me before, they said that I would not understand. Sometimes I feel like becoming a mom opens door to a secret society. As a new-mom, I started to have feelings nobody prepared me for. The same goes with my body. It changed in so many ways that I could not recognize it. I was both sad and angry that nobody told me what was waiting for me after birth.
If you are on social media, you know that most of the accounts show happy mothers whose newborns look calm and peaceful. There is no colic or reflux on Instagram. The moms slimmed down two months after giving birth and their house is spotless clean and organized. How real are these images? Don’t they just make us feel bad about ourselves? If you are a mother, what do you feel guilty about? I feel guilty:
- When I am on a train and Chloe-Sofia starts crying. I think that everyone is looking at me and judging me for not being able to calm her down.
- When a waitress at my favorite coffee place said in front of my husband that I didn’t carry my daughter in my arms as much as he did. Like, seriously?! I found it so preposterous that I just ignored her. And later on, I felt guilty. Let’s be honest, I know she has a crash on my hubby but it still hurt.
- When I am at our pediatrician’s office and Chloe-Sofia starts crying inconsolably. I start thinking that the doctor will send social services to our house.
- That I am looking forward to go back to work. I admire all stay-at-home mothers but I know it is not for me.
- That I want to take photos for the blog and keep writing instead of spending that time with my daughter.
- That I don’t mind leaving Chloe-Sofia with my mother-in-law so that Alex and I can go to Paleo (music festival) or do something together just the two of us.
- That I do not have a clear opinion on vaccination. On one hand, I am “pro”. On the other hand, when I read arguments from the “other camp”, I am afraid that Chloe-Sofia may react to it badly and it would be my fault. It is catch-22.
- That sometimes(!) I use regular Pampers instead of disposable diapers that are biodegradable. Before Chloe-Sofia was born, I was telling everyone how we were going to use cloth diapers. Than the reality hit and it just did not work for us. Now I have to answer to all those people who want to know how we are happy with cloth diapers.
- That I don’t give as much attention to Alex as I used to.
- That I can’t deal with cleaning, ironing and any other household tasks. That I am happy that I found an amazing cleaning lady who made my life much easier. That I don’t cook for my husband. In fact, I don’t enjoy to cook at all. If it was up to me, we would live on fruits, salads and nuts.
- And my “all-time favorite”: that I did not like breastfeeding. It was painful. I did not have enough milk. I had to use an electronic breast pump that made me feel like a cow. And in the end, I lost even the little of milk that I had. So when people tell me how important it is to breastfeed, I feel guilty. I feel that I deprived my daughter of it.
If there is anything that I learnt from all this guilt it is that it is only in my head. Guilt is just a negative thought. How can I get rid of it? I am not sure if I can. What I can do is forget those could I, would I, should I and accept what is. Especially when it does not look like those polished pictures on Instagram.
Photos by Surekha Yeshwanth