Five years ago I dropped the Guilt. I stopped judging myself. I stopped criticizing myself. And others. I stopped blaming myself for sleepless nights, deviations from a strict feeding schedule and shabby weight gain. Five years ago, I let go of rigidity, pressure and stress. I embraced the sleepless nights. I welcomed the midnight feedings and relished in all day (and night) cuddles. I gave up trying desperately to be the pre-baby person I used to be. I began being a Mama. Which is really kind of ridiculous considering I already had been for nearly three years prior…
I had planned for a natural delivery with my oldest but he apparently had a bad sense of direction and when he refused to point his head north, we ended up with a c-section with 6 days notice. The first blow to Mama’s self esteem. His means of entrance into this world was also the birth of Guilt. Deep, self-loathing, ugly Guilt. Poor latching issues, coupled with slow weight gain, compounded by a steady stream of well-meaning guests seemed like good places to point blame in the those early months of stress; however, I could only credit them with supporting roles. I looked at the plastic faces of mothers smiling with their eyes closed as they held half-naked babies on the diaper package. I kind of hated them. How could they be so happy with this? Why don’t I feel like that?
I was kind of a crappy Mama to my sweet first child. I certainly could have been worse- there was no neglect, no shortage of snuggles, playtime or love. But I could have been happier. I could have done it better. I could have lived in the moment instead of thinking ahead to the next. And judging myself every step of the way. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.
I had missed the boat on happiness and I would be damned if I was going to do it again. Call it a new outlook, confidence, or chance. Call it rebounding from a devastating miscarriage. Call it relief from a stressful, agonizing pregnancy. Call it what you want but something inside me clicked. With the birth of my second child, I really became a Mama. I started to enjoy being a Mama. I stopped fighting the warmth of cuddling a baby while the whole world happened around. I threw out the schedules (and the books), let go of the nightly bath routine (seriously, what was my hang-up with that?) and kicked that ugly bitch called Guilt to the curb. And now, I am a better Mama.
Five years ago, my Mooch was born. I honestly had never known a greater feeling. He taught me to be a softer, more patient Mama to my oldest and prepared me for the insanity of my youngest (and holy shit, insanity is a gross understatement). I am inspired by his love for life and his willingness to welcome changes; his openness to unconditional love.
His fifth birthday also marks the death of Mama Guilt. The Guilt still makes plenty of guest appearances, haunting me at the first sign of insecurity; lurking, waiting for weakness. When Guilt rears up, ready to pounce, I carefully, diligently fold her back up, put the lid on her box and place her back up on the top shelf of the closet and close the door. I put her away. In the dark. Where I never want to be again.
This year, as I wish my sweet Mooch a delightful fifth birthday, I also celebrate the death of Mama Guilt. Peace Mamas.