I love my children more than my husband. How many of us mothers have thought this at some point? We feel we own them a little bit more.
We feel we know them a little bit more. We may even feel we are a better parent a little bit more.
I know best…It’s a woman thing…..possession is 9/10s of the law.... right? I’ve felt this if I am being totally honest. I am not proud of the fact but, it is the truth. I certainly felt self-righteous about it at the time but, I was still in the fog of new parenthood; a hazy uncertain place, where lots of voices were floating around me.
Why do we, as women and mothers, feel we can label this as ‘Mammy guilt’ and that makes it ok? Is ‘Mammy guilt’ a real thing born from a chemical change in our bodies or is it self-imposed martyrdom?
Since becoming a mother over four years ago, I have found myself thinking and talking about this a lot and a friend once said to me ‘Jennifer that’s women for ya, we’re just wired differently’. If I was to follow her mentality and perhaps even add to it by thinking that my body is built differently to my husband's (I know it is from a physiological and biological standpoint) does that allow me to own an entire emotion? I don’t think it does.
Therefore, is it unfair for some of us to use phrases like ‘Mammy guilt’ when we are simultaneously hoping for changes in our maternity and paternity system. Is it not counter-productive to our aspirations for a system that affords fathers time out of work to bond with their child. I think it is because it validates the sentiment that mothers know best. And as long as we validate the idea that mothers know best then fathers will always take second place in the parenting experience.
It is important to say at this stage that I am a working mother and have no intention of becoming a full time stay at home mum. I like to work. I need to work and I’m totally cool with that.
I feel it is time we stop using ‘Mammy guilt’ because it is unreasonable to expect equality in all other areas of our world if we unconsciously or knowingly claim to love our children more than our husbands, which is really what ‘mammy guilt’ is all about. There is no daddy guilt, so what are we really saying when we use the term ‘mammy guilt’? We must practice equality within and I don’t think mammy guilt is doing that.
Do we force ourselves to feel ‘Mammy guilt’? I think some of us do. I think we are conditioned to feel guilty about going back to work, taking time out for self-care or going away for a few nights with our partner.
'Mammy guilt’ causes us to feel like we are awful mothers who do not love our children. I remember about 15 years ago, on an episode of Oprah there was a woman discussing motherhood.
She mentioned how she loved her husband more than her children and people were appalled, but let’s remember where we started, how the children got here and how the decision to become parents was born from a joint decision between TWO adults.