There are plenty of blogs telling you all about the horror of child birth, about the changes children make in your life – the good, the bad, the ugly, some tell you what you should and shouldn’t be doing or buying, but few talk of the mother guilt you are likely to feel. Maybe not everyone does have mother guilt, maybe I am just gifted in this area… lucky me!
I have had strong mother guilt from the minute I brought my first born home. Did I goo and gah enough? Am I supposed to sing nursery rhymes all day? I couldn’t even remember half the nursery rhymes, I had to look them up and I made myself a little book so that I could sing to my baby! I had babies who did not sleep, so I had people ask me do you over feed him? under feed him? do you rock him to sleep? do you control cry? whatever the answer, it always felt wrong.
I had my Miss C when Master B was 18months old, I remember one day trying to get Master B to sleep by patting him on his back and Miss C was screaming. He wouldn’t sleep and she wouldn’t stop and I thought, ‘what am I doing wrong??’ then burst into tears.
Skip ahead a few years, Miss E comes along. Now, I thought my other two were bad sleepers, that was nothing compared to what Miss E delivered! She slept well for around 3 or 4 months and I thought, this is great, but I started to feel the need to be released from the house, and let’s face it, from the children. I was tired and needed a break. Again, mother guilt, why did I want to get away from my kids? Is this normal?? So I decided to start bottle feeding her one feed a day. Slowly, she started sleeping worse and worse, I assumed it was me, that my milk supply was low, that I was doing something wrong. Well, I was, in a way. Turns out, she had an intolerance to the dairy in the formula. She would projectile vomit after each bottle, she would sleep 15minutes at a time, day and night. I was exhausted. What was I doing wrong??
By month 7 and a half, I worked out what was going on, and changed her formula (I had completely stopped BF by this point) to soy, and that night she slept 6 hours straight. I felt so terrible that I hadn’t worked it out sooner…
Four years went by, and Miss E didn’t really ever learn to sleep properly. A good night was getting 4 hours straight. I called sleep schools many times in tears, begging them to let me go there on that day. Of course there are waiting lists, and somehow, it just never happened. I fell pregnant with Miss O, and something had to give, I felt like a walking zombie, sooooo tired all the time. Finally, call it exhaustion, call it pregnancy hormones, call it crazy woman, one night I finally snapped.
Miss E did her usual night time waking, wanting to sleep in our bed, not sleeping, up, down, up, down, you get the idea. I dragged her, without warning to a naughty corner, kicking and screaming and told (hollered to) her, she had the choice, sleep in her bed or in the naughty corner. She screamed her head off. I’m pretty sure she woke the neighbours up, and if she didn’t, my hubby and I yelling at each other would have. I was tired, after 8 years of very little sleep. I just wanted some sleep dammit!! This went on every night for nearly a week, and all of a sudden, it’s like she finally understood. She slept through the night.
Why didn’t I try this earlier?! Poor kid must’ve been exhausted!
Sometimes, as a mother, or father, or carer, you need to give yourself a break, pat yourself on the back and make a cup of tea. You aren’t doing anything wrong!! Sometimes, we get frustrated, angry, tired. As a stay at home mum, we don’t get to leave the office at five, take a deep breath and get a break from a shitty day. IF you a lucky enough to have a sleeper, you will at least have your evenings when you face plant on your bed and stay like that until morning, but if not, rest assured, one day, they will sleep. You will sleep. You will get your sanity back and things will turn the right way up again. I still feel mother guilt about many things, and I suppose I always will. At least I get a bit of sleep now!