Well. a few times I have apologized to STS for being too strict on some things and not strict enough on others. Of course, he contradicted me and told me my child-raising techniques were OK.
So, why do mums fall into "Mum Guilt"? I thought of this today, as STS recently assured me that he was glad I found a certain balance, but I am still not too happy with myself as a mum.
"Mum Guilt" arises from several areas of the soul. I have a little bullet list of reasons why mums feel guilty. However, I also answer with the truth.
- Child or children did not turn out as one expected. (Answer: Well, who do you think you are, the BVM? And, were your expectations realistic and fair?)
- Child or children have faults or a lack of virtue training one missed because of cooking, baking, cleaning, being chauffer, working, being nurse....and so on. (Answer: Hmm, so the child or children are like apples which did not fall far from the tree. Johnny or Janey's faults seem to be like....Mum's. Do you think you are supermum? Are you perfect, yet?)
- Child or children seem unhappy, or too happy, too serious, or too laid-back. (And, what were you like at 25?)
- Child or children are not quite as brilliant at .....as one expected. (When was the last time you balanced your chequebook? Hey, think of me, realizing that STS is so much more highly intelligent than I am that I have to have science, philosophy, math, history, architecture, art, gourmet cooking, antiques, linguistic, Japanese, Chinese, Greek, German, Anglo-Saxon, Ancient Norse, computer tech, theology, medicine, history, music, and etc. dictionaries and encyclopedias at hand, or all the tabs open on my computer, just to have a twenty minute conversation. Fun, but challenging.)
- Child or children are so messy, while I trained him or them to be so neat. (So, you have never heard of kids being totally different than parents? And, who is the pack-rat in the family?)
- Child or children forget Mother's Day, which means he, she, they don't love me because I was such a horrible mum. (OMGoodness, STS manages to forget TWO Mother's Days-American and English, as he thinks he sent a card to one or the other...so quit complaining. "Oh, sorry Mum, didn't I send one for the English Mother's Day [or American Mother's Day]?)
- If I had only done this, or lived here, or, or, or...(Waste of time-we cannot change the past. Go forward in grace.)
- I could have done better. I was too self-absorbed, too selfish...(OK, now we are getting down to the truth....)
Mum Guilt arises from mums either comparing themselves with their perfect mums (especially the 1950s variety), or by rebelling against their mums (usually the 1960s variety) and reading every single mothering book in the English language. Most of us have high expectations of our own selves.
But, Mum Guilt seems to be real. Maybe we mums think back to Eve wishing she really had not eaten the apple, and then offered it to Adam, thus messing up mothering until the end of time. We must want to be perfect NOW and we want perfect kids. Well, maybe...but it is not so bad to realize one's faults in child-rearing. The key virtue for mums must be humility. If we are virtuous, the kids will grow up in virtue. However, remember, everyone has free will.
Then again, as one grows older, one has many regrets, looking back at the past and realizing how immature and selfish one was, and if only.......STOP.
I think Mum Guilt comes from a lack of trust in God. Children belong to Him, not us. We are just given sons and daughters for a time, for our own salvation as well as theirs. If mums trust in Divine Providence, maybe, just maybe, Mum Guilt would disappear. We need to constantly give our children to God and to His Mother, Mary.
God forgives us mums and reminds us that there is only ONE PERFECT MUM, St. Mary, His Mother.
We daughters just have to accept that we need her help daily to be good mums.
St. Mary, Mother, pray for all of us mums, please.