Click The day my twins were born, something else was born too. It is a different kind of love. It is deeper, and it feels different. It is as if my heart is running outside my chest. Nobody could ever prepare me for how much motherhood will change me. But with that, something else was born too unfortunately… the feeling of guilt…
It is essential to look at the sources of guilt. Guilt does not only influence me as parent, but it influences my children as well. It happens that I feel guilty about something and let them get away with unacceptable behaviour. And it is in that moment where the real harm is done. Guilt has just paved the way towards inconsistency, unpredictability and fear.
CF (cystic fibrosis) is a genetic life limiting disease with it’s own daily challenges. Sometimes I get so tired that I silently wish I can go to hospital and rest. And then I feel guilty for it. Then the time comes where I have to go to hospital. Hospitalisations can be from 14 to 21 days. And then I feel guilty for not being at home and doing my part as a mother.
What do I do with my feelings of guilt?
I gave myself permission to be human. I miss my own children’s signals and give my own signals completely wrong at times. One thing I have discovered is how precious it is to acknowledge each other’s emotions and to say it. An example is the overwhelming emotion when I get home. Often it happens that the children just want to blow off some steam but we cannot leave them to hack each other, or me for that matter, into pieces. We acknowledge how hard the time has been with me in hospital, the frustration, anger and the relief that I am back. Then the gentle reminder that CF is the enemy here, not me, nor their sibling. The rule of being kind and respectful towards all people is gently reinforced.
But then there are rules that will be broken! Like a Christmas bed in front of the TV, with popcorn and all the movies we can watch until we fall asleep. I make sure I lie in the middle and my body touches theirs, whether we hold hands, or cuddle cold feet together. Sometimes they will even ask me to hold them. We talk, we play board games or cards. We just spend time together.
At times my body is in pain and I am really tired. I have to find an acceptable way to communicate how I am feeling. I started to use my body as a barometer to indicate how much energy I have. I could be full, half full or completely empty. Being tired or having a bad day is not something to feel ashamed about. With this open and honest communication, the person also has the right to say what they need to recharge their batteries.
My children are older and communication is something we really endeavoured to succeed in. How did I live with the feeling of guilt when they were babies?
I’m not perfect. This simple truth my mother-in-law repeated more times than I can count. It helped to know that I am doing my utmost best and I can only give the whole Rida. And luckily children are born to like their parents! (On a lighter note)
Seriously though… I did what I had to do to keep myself sane. Motherhood is a major adjustment. It can require you to change from a person who earned money to a wife who needs to ask her hubby money. While you were working the interaction with like-minded people are taken for granted. Often mothers are home alone with little to no contact with the outside world. It gets lonely. You feel isolated. You don’t feel appreciated.
One thing that really caught me was the fact that I should feel grateful and happy every second of the day because CF sufferers don’t just have babies. But I didn’t feel that way always. And I felt guilty. And then I speak to another mother who confessed she would drive once or even twice around the block from her own house before she would enter some days – and she is a healthy mother.
I sang songs that made ME peaceful. I did not only sing baby songs. I read stories that were good for ME and made me laugh. I used my network of people as often as I could. I especially listened to the older ladies and their advice.
And I feel one of the biggest things I did right was to allow my hubby to be a parent without me hovering over him all the time. Without me telling him how to do things all the time. Without me criticising him every step of the way.
I reckon he will ask for help when he needs it. Also, he would do nothing that would harm our babies. The trust I communicated by my actions forged a whole new bond for us as well. He is an awesome parent! And our children know that their dad is my best friend. And maybe tonight I do not feel like the best mum ever, at least I can lie in his arms, ask for advice, have a good night’s rest and tomorrow I’ll be the best version of me again.
Laugh, love, live
Rida Viljoen is a parent coach who believes parenting today leads to tomorrow’s bliss. She works with parents who want to take their parenting to the next level. With a little planning and a whole toolkit of techniques learnt early on, it can make all the difference when the teen years arrive. The goal is to raise successful adults contributing towards the greater community in a meaningful way.
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