"Welcome to the world of the never-ending mummy guilt"
So if you've been unlucky, you've quite possibly just had one of the most traumatic experiences of your life. But you've made it (well done!) and now you've got this little person to show for it.
If you've been lucky and the whole labour bit wasn't as bad as you were expecting - high five! Whichever your experience, you've joined the Mummy Club. Congratulations!
However, along with this subscription, you automatically get free membership to Guilthood. My advice? Don't visit here too often it's not a great place to be. It's just a tiny corner of Motherhood, which on a good day is a top class spot.
The journey to Guilthood probably started before Baby even arrived. Have you packed the right brand of nappies? Have you picked the right car seat? Did you really want a boy but you're having a girl? (It's ok to have a preference!) You spent nine months (quite possibly way longer) picturing the type of mother you will be. Baby comes along and well, sometimes it just isn't how you pictured. Cue a big fat serving of guilt.
You question if you really should have made this little person - then feel guilty for thinking such a thing. You need some time to yourself, a little bit of Mamma TLC. If you are lucky enough to take the plunge and have that 'me time' you'll spend the whole time thinking about the child and wondering what they're up to. You end up checking your phone every 30 seconds just to make sure it isn't on silent and you've missed a 'come home quick' call.
Along with titles of Wife, Girlfriend, Partner or Lover, your new Mummy one puts another little person before you in the pecking order. Help yourself to a big slice of guilt pie for not paying the other baby maker the attention they are used to. Not only did you move down the 'who's most important list,' they did too.
Next stage of guilthood - Maternity leave is over. It's time to go back to work. Prepare for another stay in Guilthood. Can anyone nurture your little one like you would? You've searched for the perfect solution to your childcare needs. You know they are in safe hands but you want to be the one to wipe their snot and kiss their grazed knees. But that's not always an option, and sometimes needs must. Going to work might actually be something you love and thrive on. That's ok! Don't feel guilty about this! The world needs mummy's like you.
The stay at home mama gets her fair share of guilt too. She worries she's not enough for her baby. They don't have the interaction with other kids or adults that perhaps they would have in childcare. Are they missing out? Some days her patience levels aren't quite as high as she would like. She feels guilty for yearning for her old working life before kids came along. It was a time when she had proper grown up conversations about the state of the world and didn't spend the day clearing up the food-splattered kitchen floor after every meal or snack. There's the guilt of using CBeebies as a babysitter just so she can run for a quick shower because sometimes it is a toss up between washing ourselves, or washing the dishes while the baby sleeps.
Then comes the big one... You've signed up for a whole load more guilt. Baby number two arrives! Are you giving both of them enough attention? Which one do you tend to first? You just moved even further down that pecking list. The need for 'me time' is even greater, but the guilt of taking it is even worse.
This is life. It's Motherhood, and most of the time it is a pretty fine place to be. Even on a dull day, a shower of kisses and gust of hugs can make the haze seem bright. Like I say Guilthood is just a tiny corner. Drive through it but don't stop. Every mama feels guilty about something. Next time you're on the road to Guithood take the first right.
All our little ones need is to be fed, bathed and loved unconditionally. Ok, sometimes they will want us to play cars and build blocks all day, but one day they'll grow up and know that the days we weren't doing the things they wanted were the days we were our best mummy selves.