Mum guilt exists. It is real and it is horrible. Usually it creeps up over ridiculous things, like refusing that bedtime request for food. You know they have eaten. They aren’t hungry, they are using it as a ploy to stay up five more minutes. But as you deny the food and leave the room, you feel like a terrible parent.
Immunisations cause Mum Guilt. You know it’s best for your child, but you feel bad. Refusing that toy they so desperately want, to stop them becoming as spoilt as their friend at school – that causes Mum Guilt too. Basically, Mum Guilt is feeling guilty about doing the right thing instead of the thing your kid wants.
I’m undergoing a very different kind of Mum Guilt right now, that might even be a different kind of guilt altogether. I feel guilty for liking someone. (I also feel angry and indignant, for being made to feel guilty for liking someone. I’ll like whoever the frick I want to, thank you very much!).
As a single parent, the thought of entering into a new relationship is always scary. You have to find someone you like, who likes you, then you have to make that fit in with your family commitments. It’s never easy according to the many accounts I’ve read.
But what about me? I’m a parent whose child was abused by my last partner. It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t know. I put him behind bars, and saw her through the aftermath. It’s over. She is healthy, and happy, and doing really well. Still, can I ever move on? Is it ever okay for me to have another relationship? Will I ever trust again? Is it fair on her? Will people ever stop judging me?
Who knows, is the answer. The whole reason I started this blog was because there is no set of hard and fast rules for How To Live Your Life After Your Long Term Partner Turns Out To Be A Disgusting, Evil, Life Wrecking Bastard. I’ve had nothing but mixed messages on the subject of moving on, from a professional in the field telling me that I absolutely should find myself a new partner when I feel ready, to a very close friend refusing to even speak to me after I confessed that I liked someone.
I am not in any way talking about moving someone in, about getting married or leaving my daughter in the care of a new boyfriend. I thought it was blatantly obvious that any attempt at a new relationship would have to be meticulously planned and slowly executed, with her needs held high over mine or any partner’s. I feel confident in managing that; the bit that scares the life out of me is the people who will judge me based on whatever I choose to do next.
The thing that hurts me here is that people think I can’t or shouldn’t ever have a relationship again, because of what happened with X. Call me extremely selfish, but how is that fair? It sounds a lot like ‘quitting relationships forever’ because you got burnt once – only more extreme. It wasn’t my fault.
I want more children. My daughter wants siblings. In fact, despite what happened to her she regularly asks when I will get married, and as mentioned in Our Story, she does get jealous of children who have a male role model in their lives. I would never set out to do something that I thought would hurt her; I would never make a decision like this without considering her feelings. However, the opinions of people who have never been in our situation? Some of whom don’t even have kids? Well I don’t think they have a right to be telling me what I should or shouldn’t do; but their judgement hurts all the same.
I don’t think I’m asking for opinions on this one, as I feel there may be a barrage of abuse headed my way from those people who feel that I should just never even look at a man again.
Rather, I wanted to share with you my version of Mum Guilt – and remind you that you are not a terrible mother for saying no to that one thing, even if it sometimes feels that way. Go easy on yourselves, Mamas!