Are you caught in the trap of Mother’s Guilt?
Where you never feel like you’re doing enough for your kids – or doing it RIGHT?
In this episode, Lisa will have you thinking about mother’s guilt in a brand new way and perhaps make you rethink your use of the term entirely!
What a relief!
She also offers four mantras that she uses to help her move through feelings of guilt when they arise. And normalises the learning of lessons in parenthood and MOVING ON!
Mother’s guilt can feel like a ‘normal’ way of being – but it doesn’t have to be.
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Prefer to read? Access the transcript here
Hey, it’s Lisa Corduff. Welcome to the podcast where you can expect inspiring, raw, energising, and transformative conversations with people on the path of personal evolution. I’m here to really live my life, and if you are too, these conversations are just for you. I’m really glad you are here. Enjoy. Hey, how is this going for you?
We have a huge week in my house this week, and all of the grade six graduation events are happening. Transitions to high school are happening. Everyone’s a little bit tired and look, it’s all super exciting, but it’s a lot that, and I know I’m not alone, this, it’s a big time of year for so many people and deadlines are looming. I mean, my daughter got out our little blackboard and yesterday was started a countdown to Christmas. So every day I’m just looking at how many days. And it’s so funny because it’s like, yeah, well it’s another day and we’ve all had events on and everything comes together, but there’s just this weird feeling around this time of year and everyone wants to catch up before Christmas, all that sort of stuff. Anyway, we are going for trying some new things on this December. So many of you have downloaded the free festive playlist, which is 10 training audios.
It’s like a private podcast. You can binge listen, you can listen to something every day. There’s gorgeous things in there to help you through what I see as some of the major issues that women face, particularly at this time of year. So the link to that will be in the show notes. You can go ahead and get access to it, but I brought it up because there’s like this standout winner when it comes to most popular track to listen to, and that’s the one on mother’s guilt. And it’s unsurprising because mother’s guilt is so pervasive, but it’s like a hugely standout winner. So I wanted to delve into mother’s guilt a little bit more in this episode. And what I am going to share with you is the way in which I’ve helped myself move past mother’s guilt, even though it always rears its head.
Oh my goodness. I’ll tell you some stories about that. But there’s also a few things I say to myself, a few little mantras that I always come back to that just help me just move through it. Just not get caught in it, right? Because what I ultimately think what mother’s guilt is, is it’s just a reflection of our, not enoughness, right? It’s like, well, we are not being a good enough parent, and there were choices that we could make differently and we should have done that. Lots of shoulds, lots of shoulds. Lots are not good enough sometimes, I don’t know if shame is really the right word, but we, we’ve normalised that it’s a normal part of parenting, and I think that that’s okay in terms of guilt. When we feel guilty about something, sometimes it can be a sign of, well, yeah, most likely won’t do that again.
Or, wow, I can really see that’s an uncomfortable feeling to know that I didn’t quite get to that, or I didn’t do that in the way that I wanted to. So I’m going to take that and not going to make it mean anything that I’m bad. Or if I could have made a different decision in that moment, I would have, but I didn’t. And so moving on, learnt the lesson. Thank you for just putting a little spotlight on that for me. But then the thing is, is that if we live in this constant state of mother’s guilt, this constant state of not doing enough, look what actually is that. And when you start to think about it, it’s like, well then if we accept that it’s a thing, it’s a part of parenting, hashtag mum, mum guilt, what we’re actually saying to ourselves is that there’s also a point at which we will not feel guilty. So if we want to not live with mother’s guilt, and then what’s your barometer? What’s your measurement? You’ve done a good job. How will you know are good enough as a mom? What’s the measurement? Literally stop and think about what do you believe makes a good mom and how would you know that you’re a good mom? And when we get a bit granular like this, when we really ask ourselves the question in that way, we realise <laugh>
Given ourselves a never ending task. A never ending, not enoughness, because there is no measurement. There is no magic moment where you are going to feel like you have delivered your child everything they’ve ever needed, emotionally, mentally, physically, relationally, all of the things. Literally name something. And Y your child needs it and you are responsible. I mean, this is the other thing like that. We have this ultimate responsibility for everything our child desires, but we’ve given ourselves an impossible task. So why do we keep doing it? Is it comfortable for you to feel like you are not enough because that’s your go-to? So of course, if you haven’t achieved what you’ve wanted to achieve in a career, if your relationship is on the rocks, if you feel like you’re letting everyone down all the time, then of course that’s going to filter into your parenting. But it’s this idea that you are wrong, this idea that there’s something not right. And of course, if that is your default, you are going to feel like that about parenting too. It’s actually really, really important to look at this and get honest with yourself about this. The reason why I created the change room this year,
And something that’s been so important to me in every single one of the program that I’ve created over the years is we’ve got to stop coming from this place of shoulds and not enough. And instead, meet ourselves with compassion. Because it has been created for us, this idea, this concept of not being enough, but we’ve bought into it. Now. There are so many, there’s so ways in which we could look at this through the lens of patriarchy, of negativity, bias, of there’s all the ways if you want to go and try and understand where this all comes from. There is so much information and discourse out there on this. But for me, as a person who’s just actually wanting the fast track on things sometimes, cause everything takes time, I also just want to circumvent all that stuff. Yes, we can understand it. Yes, we can delve deep. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. But for me, when I started to realise that that level of not enoughness was my job, it’s my job to figure that out, where it might have come from at what level I might start feeling comfortable with myself. And when I realised this literally no measurement, well then it was all about how do I make a different choice in the moment? Why would I keep trying for this? Maybe I just accept that there’ll always be this potential to have done more, but it’s my job to feel comfortable and about what has happened, take the lessons, move on instead of getting trapped in this place of not enough.
So I have so many examples of mum guilt because even although I can see the ridiculousness, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t come to pay me a visit. And I’ll share with you some of those mantras in a moment. But I mean, an example would be, I mean, I’m looking back now. My son has now is Ty Bow on his primary school years. That’s it done. And I just think, well, God should have, I pushed a musical instrument, oh goodness, when he was in prep and grade one and I was getting a toddler, two toddlers ready and out the door and oh my goodness, gee, we raced to school in the morning. That must have been so stressful for him cause I wasn’t at that stage particularly organised. And it was just, stuff was all over the place. Oh my goodness. The years that he lived through where his dad wasn’t okay, I wasn’t okay. We were all trying our best, but that was chaotic for him, for his little nervous system. And I didn’t know, I thought I was doing a good job at protecting them, but my goodness, he knew, their bodies knew because as soon as I could, as soon as Nick left the house, as soon as we found our rhythm as a crew of four, I could see the huge impact that it had taken because everything was calmer. Everyone was happier, less emotional outbursts for my son. I mean a huge, huge change.
So I could feel guilty, I could feel guilty about that all the days. And can we not even now, I have two other amazing boys of my boyfriends. And can we just talk anyone who has other children in their life that weren’t born of them, I actually think mother’s guilt just goes to a whole new level because they’re not your people to make mistakes on. And I mean there was the time, it’s an effort. I have always prioritised table manners. They arrived at my house with a very different level of table manners to where my kids, and it’s, it’s a thing sometimes I just need to get up and just go and get myself a glass of water. I don’t know. It’s one of my things. And there was one time where it just got a little bit much and it was just prod, prod, prod, ignore, ignore, ignore.
And I had said to one of his kids, it looks like y you are eating like an animal. Can you even imagine my shock in myself that those words came out of my mouth terrible. And I literally, I still think about it. I still think about it. I had a big talk with him afterwards and tried to explain. He’s like this young kid who, well, it’s a whole different level of questioning myself and trying my best. And the amount of things that all of us would go back and do differently is countless. But we did them. And it’s up to us to make it okay for ourselves. What are we doing hanging a noose around our neck like that? How do we get to enjoy parenting? How do we get to meet ourselves with love and with compassion? If we are constantly telling ourselves we’re doing a bad job, we’re missing it.
And while for sure those moments can be great in terms of I will definitely work on managing my comments at the dinner table, <laugh> not tell a child that they’re eating like an animal. Because while I can say that to my kids, while I can say, you guys, you little monkeys, you are eating, use your knife and fork or whatever. When it’s said to someone else, <laugh> a very different story. It’s not contextualised or God, but what am I going to do? Because I actually love those kids and I’m trying my best. So here’s a few things that I say to myself because I can’t be a mom and a dad. I can’t be there for everyone’s everything because they’ve got lots of stuff on. I can’t meet them with complete calm when I’ve got a big deadline with work or things aren’t rolling for me. Well, I mean our kids, they witness us in all of it.
And for me, it’s like what solo parenting has taught me is that we can create amazing language around that. Oh you guys, I went to a concert on the weekend. I got home super much later than I thought I was going to because of the, I wasn’t able to get home. Anyway that’s another story. And my daughter said to me the next day, how was it? And I said, good. Oh goodness. I got home really late. And she said oh, are you going to be tired mom today? And I said, you know what? I might be a little bit tired mom. So the way that I’m planning on getting through today is blah, blah, blah, blah. And it’s brilliant because we’ve all got this understanding that we are not robots and we can’t be perfect all the time. And sometimes we might be tired and grumpy or sometimes we might not have as much energy as others.
Sometimes we might feel like being alone and sometimes we might feel the need to connect all of it. We can talk about it. So this isn’t about we can get rid of mom guilt when we’re being the perfect parent. Never feeling any mum guilt. Remember, there’s literally no moment at which you are going to feel that because some sort of measurement doesn’t exist. They’re going to throw up something new. You are going to have an off day, whatever. Let’s just be okay with it all. So I think that if you have mother’s guilt, because there’s people maybe in your ear about ways you could be doing things differently for your kids or that maybe they see something that you don’t see as the mom, which is anyway, I often say to myself, I’m doing this my way and it’s perfect. And I say that it’s perfect cause it’s triggering to call something perfect because perfect actually doesn’t exist. But not good enough doesn’t exist either. It’s just can we actually make it perfect for it to be done this way? I’m calling it, I’m making it perfect that this is my way. No, because no parent is perfect. So I sort of have a bit of a play with myself on that one. I’m doing this my way and it’s perfect. It’s perfect in its imperfection, it’s perfect, in its trying. It’s perfect in its intention.
And then I also say, I can’t do it all, so I’ll do this. So instead of that, I can’t do it all. And then feeling a bit like exactly, I can’t do it all. I’m letting everyone down. It’s like, no, actually just be honest with yourself about what you are doing and just claim it. I can’t do it all. So I’ll do this. And that can be anything. I mean right now, this time of year, the kid’s like, are we going to do some, when are we doing Christmas baking? When are we, I need to wrap my, can I please get a present for? And it’s like, hmm, okay, I’m not going to be able to fit all of this in. So this week I said, I know that Christmas is getting close, but this week because of grad in my son’s graduation and his transition to day to high school and the parent information night for me and all that stuff, you know what? This year it feels like this is the focus. So we might not have a Christmas baking day if we can on the weekend. I would love to make some cookies, but it’s going to be a bit different this year. So I can’t do it all. So I’ll do this, I’ll make this my focus and I’ll make that okay with myself.
I think that in the age of social media especially there can be there, I mean, gosh, you just have to have a little scroll as though there is a right way to parent a right decision to make a right response to have. And there’s, that’s another thing that I say to myself, there’s no right or wrong. And then I just tack on the end. I say, there’s no right or wrong. Trust yourself. What if you just gave yourself permission to just be like, oh God, look, if there was someone that I could ask, if there was somebody podcast that I could listen to that would give me an answer here and I would feel good and not guilty ever again because I made the right decision, then we’d all do it right? But there is no right or wrong and there is no one else who has the answer for you and your beautiful family. How might it feel to lean into trusting yourself, trusting that even if you not get it wrong, cause there is no wrong, but get a result that isn’t the one you wanted, or maybe it does induce some mum guilt, well then it was actually right because you’ve learned something. It was perfect. You made a decision, you made a choice, you did something, you didn’t do something and it brought up some feelings. So brilliant, let’s notch another lesson under our belt. Just trust yourself. And if we look at it all as the chance to be in life, trying mucking up, making what might feel like mistakes. I just wonder is it really mistakes or is it just that was the choice you made with the information, the knowledge, the capacity that you had at the time. And then you can do it differently next time if you need to or want to.
And the last one that I find really helps me if I feel like, yeah, the mum guilt is coming. And for sure, there’s definitely been times over the last few years where I’ve thought my kids might be missing out because they don’t have the salary of two working parents or whatever it is. Or I can feel guilty about so much to do with solo parenting. And often I’ll just say to myself, and then I’ll action. Maybe just hug them. I say to myself, just hug them. And I cannot even tell you how much that makes things better because at the end of the day, what does your kid really want? It’s connection with you most of the time finding a way to just connect. And I’m not too sure who doesn’t feel better after a hug that if we put our arms out to our children, if we sit down and cuddle them, and I really hope this doesn’t end as they become teenagers. I’m literally creating a story for my son that he will hug me forever more. <laugh> has that got more to do with me or him. But just that physical touch when we just hug them, when we make parenting as simple as just holding that hug a little longer at just giving them a wink across a room,
We are nailing it. Make it easy for yourself to win at this if that’s important to you. By remembering that it’s the simple, simple, small things that make the biggest difference. You are no doubt doing an amazing job day in, day out, my goodness. Parenting is a whole thing. And you’ve got <laugh>. If perfection was the aim, you are setting yourself up to fail because none of us are doing it in some unrealistically perfect way. But your way is perfect. You who you are, you and those kids, you’re doing it. And when you realise that that not enoughness is like a losing battle, there will never be a moment at which you feel enough, then you can just accept that, oh, okay, that’s that rearing its head again. So what do I need to say to myself? So how do I manage this moment? Instead of just accepting that you’re going to feel pretty shit about yourself as a mom. A lot of the time you don’t. And that’s what in the festive playlist, if you go and download that, the little short audio that I did on mother’s guilt around the festive season is going to be the most beautiful thing that you can listen to, remind you of exactly why you can drop that guilt during this time of year. It’s beautiful. You can listen to it on replay every single day if you need it.
But I also hope this podcast was helpful. My mantras again are I’m doing this my way and it’s perfect, just sinking into making whatever I am, however I’m doing it perfect. Because by Jo I will find the little lessons and I will keep trying and the intention behind my parenting, it is perfect because there is love and I am learning, then I can’t do it all. So I’ll do this standing in conviction about the choices that we are making instead of feeling like we’ve got no choice and we’re letting everyone down all the time. I can’t do it all, so I’ll do this and let it be okay. There’s no right or wrong. Trust yourself and then just hug them. I hope that that’s helpful. You should create your own. What could you say to yourself, how could you lessen the mother’s guilt for yourself this season or forever? Are you going to choose to stay in that space or do we just go, yep, it’s something that’s going to rear its head all the time, but it’s not where I’m going to stay stuck? No, not that place.
And I don’t have to be the norm, be a mum who’s just always feeling like she’s doing a terrible job. I could actually just love and accept myself, know that I’m doing the best I can in each moment. And even when we are not at our best, we actually are still trying our best, if you know what I mean. Okay. Have a really great week.
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