She’s everywhere and we do not like her! She first made her appearance 2 years ago when my daughter Charlie was born and then decided to hang around, still uninvited, until Jamie was born 18 months later. Now it seems she has taken up permanent residence in my home, at my office, in the car and in the nappy bag for crying out loud! She’s best described as malicious, unwelcome and just plain mean. She rears her head at the most inopportune times and you’ve guessed it… lays on that guilt, thick!
If you’re a mom, you’ve met her and probably know her well. She’s a constant companion and informs so many of your decisions. She plagues your thoughts and bruises your ego like its child’s play. She makes you believe you cannot have it all and that you most certainly cannot juggle it all – career, family, friends, intimacy etc. She is definitely a daily curse but I am about to describe the best tactics to give her the brush off. Now I wish I could prescribe a magic potion that will eliminate her altogether but alas as long as you own the title of ‘Mother’, she will be in your life.
You have to prioritise. How you do so is up to you, all I can do is tell you that in my life my girls come first – no questions asked. But as soon as their needs have been tended to, it’s my turn. That’s right… me! Now you may have noticed the Judgement Fairy likes to hang out with the Guilt Fairy. They’re quite good buddies and I can just see them having a gossip about this ‘radical’ proposal. But to be honest, I CANNOT fill anybody else’s cup if mine is running dry. I need to set aside time to fill my cup. There are so many ways to do this but my favourites include exercise, a girl’s dinner or a long bath. Once I am all full I can then sort out my husband, work, family and friends. Now although this is the ‘rule’ I try to live by most days – it does not always go according to plan. I have learnt the value of remaining flexible but always make an attempt to return to the ‘norm’.
Although this is super clichéd – you have to remain positive. Nobody ever got anything done with a negative attitude. It’s all about your mind set and not allowing these damn fairies to beat you down. No matter how hard the day gets, I always look for the silver lining. It may be the 2 minutes I got to use the loo alone, that Charlie made me laugh or that I managed to get Jamie into bed, alive. The power of positive thinking is so well researched and documented but you need to buy into it! For example, it improves your ability to fight illness, it slows the aging process (HELLO!) and it allows for better coping mechanisms to develop. Every single day has something good about it – you just have to be on the lookout and kick some fairy butt.
“You are doing an awesome job, you are an excellent role model, you are enough…” – the things we wish we could hear each day and more importantly, the things I wish we all believed. The truth is that gaining perspective about your ability as a mother is not someone else’s job – this role belongs to you. You are the only one who can train yourself to see things from another point of view. Take a step back and see you the way your adoring children do. Also please accept the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day and you cannot be ‘everything to everyone everyday’ – fact! The ebb and flow of life means some days will be less productive or meaningful than others, but maintaining perspective will allow this fact to simply wash over you. There is nothing my Guilt Fairy hates more than my removing the veil of self-doubt and embracing a new perspective.
Finally, let’s discuss the fact that it does take a village to raise a child. In my life, my village consists of a variety of people. Some are related, some are friends and others are employed but all are essential. My Guilt Fairy used to have me believing that if I didn’t manage to perform all my daily tasks alone, I was simply a failure. What a load of rubbish! I have started to realise that support does not mean incompetence. And I have also accepted that I am a working mother, who does want a career and that is okay. It’s about understanding your own limitations and making allowances for these. Nothing worthwhile was achieved in isolation and in fact often when something is executed in isolation, results are sub-optimal. You don’t have to go it alone, so allow yourself the opportunity for some support. Your children will thank you.
So there you have it, my four P’s to getting a grip.
You lose Guilt Fairy!