It’s early evening, and my husband has encouraged me to have some time to myself. I have a stressful job, our daughter is teething, and I’m recovering from postnatal depression. He reassures me he wants to take care of our little girl, affectionately calling it "daddy daughter time."
But I can’t just relax. I can’t just sit here. As much as I try, all I can see are the things I should be doing. I race around the home to get all of these jobs done. By the time I’m finished, I’m too exhausted to have any downtime. My husband has successfully got my daughter to sleep so I collapse into bed.
The next day arrives, and I’m stressed as soon as I wake up. I’m snapping at my daughter, the prospect of being late to drop her off at the childminders is making my chest unbearably tight. I snap at my husband, although I didn’t catch what he said so I’m not sure why I just snapped at him.
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I successfully drop off my daughter at the childminders and race back home to tidy up. I’m working from home and my husband has suggested I use this time before work starts to relax. I can’t. It feels so wrong. I quickly tidy up and start my work early.
Evening arrives, and it’s suggested again that I have some time to myself. I accept the offer, but I don’t use the time to relax. Because mum guilt told me I couldn’t.
This was my life for months. And I couldn’t understand why I was so angry and resentful. I realised it was mum guilt and in punishing myself; I had been punishing everyone else around me.
This realisation created more mum guilt. What if me being so stressed out was messing up my daughter? What if her childhood memories of me are just me shouting?
Nearly 90 per cent of mothers experience mum guilt. It’s almost inescapable in the society we live in as there is a lot of pressure on mothers to be a certain way.
I feel judged a lot as a mother, even when I am not being judged. I can post an innocent question about something baby-related on Facebook, then feel judged by what is actually supportive advice. Mum guilt tells me everyone else is doing better than me and if I was a good mum, I would already know these things.