Motherhood guilt & gazing at stars

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“But why Mummy, why?”

OVER the last week I’ve been really busy and spent not one, but two nights away from home.

One to see Kylie, who was as brilliant as you’d expect. The other to go on a swanky press trip where I was wined, dined and generally spoilt rotten.

Both occasions were pretty damn fabulous but yet both of them left me feeling a little out of kilter and also incredibly sad, as I said goodbye to Elsie to go of on my short travels. Both occasions left me wondering if I was doing the right thing to leave her for a while.

To prepare her, I explained where I was going and told her that although I wouldn’t see her at bedtime or in the morning, Daddy or Grandma would. The understanding part was easy, she got it. She’s a clever girl and she understood. But it was her response which broke my heart and made me bite my lip to stop the tears springing in my eyes.

Knowing that Mummy wouldn’t be there for a while had made her sad. Yes she grasped what I had told her but her sadness and disappointment was there for me to see as clear as day. Her little face crinkled and then came the dreaded question, “but why Mummy, why?”

Why indeed.

How can you explain to a two year old that having a night watching Kylie and drinking marvellous alcoholic concoctions with one of your dearest friends is something you just need to do for yourself? That it’s a treat. That Mummy needs to have some fun too, without her, from time to time.

How do you explain to your young daughter who just wants her Mummy by her side that the press trip is work, ridiculously amazing work granted, but work all the same? That I do it not just for the money but because I genuinely love what I do. That working, writing, being creative is as much a part of me as the hair on on my head.

You can’t of course.

As bright as she may be, she’s just two years of age and like all toddlers Elsie needs simple terms. Unlike her bright, colourful toys, she still sees life in black and white. As right or wrong.

I can’t explain to her why I need to work or spend a night away from home for fun, because to her it just doesn’t make sense. To her, I am her Mama, her world, her constant. And I’m leaving her, albeit temporarily.

As I said goodbye on Tuesday and watched the disappointment appear on her face yet again, I felt a huge pang of guilt and I instantly regretted my decision to leave her.

At the press trip I was fine. I mingled, happily nattered with other guests and had a really incredible time but as I sampled gin, devoured heavenly morsels of food and chuckled along to people’s fascinating stories and jokes, Elsie was always in the back of mind.

She was fine of course. Her Grandma and Daddy did a sterling job of ¬†looking after her, but when I picked her up the next day and saw how pale and grumpy she was because she hadn’t slept well the night before, I felt dreadful. Awful in fact.

And when my husband told me how she’d cried in the morning because I wasn’t there, I could have wept a little too.

 

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Since coming home, I’ve made an extra effort to give her more of my undivided attention and have smothered her with affection. She’s happy to hear that Mummy isn’t going away for a while yet and is loving the time we are spending together.

She keeps telling me: “I love you Mummy, soooo much” and every time she says it I grab her, kiss her and squeeze her a little tighter.

Yesterday morning, after another night of disrupted sleep, Elsie decided to wake at 5.15am. As we lay in bed together as a family (our morning ritual and my favourite time of the day) I glanced towards the window and noticed that the stars were still out, shining brightly.

I carried Elsie to the window so she could see them and as we stood watching them twinkle down on us, I was filled with a great sense of peace. Of belonging. Of being in the most perfect place at the most perfect time.

When the sun rose and dawn came, it dawned on me, that my need to see and experience more of the world is not as important to me right now as being Elsie’s world.

Yes there will be other times in the near future when I will be away from home again, be it for work or for pleasure, but for the time being I’m very happy to be at home. Where I belong.

I want to put my girl to bed, tucking her in tightly with a kiss and I want to be woken up at the crack of dawn by her sweet voice. This is what matters most to me. Right now, at this stage in my life.

For now, the world can wait a little.

All I want to do is to gaze at the stars with my daughter in my arms and tell her how much I love her too.

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With love,

Kate

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16 Discussions on
“Motherhood guilt & gazing at stars”
  • Such a lovely post – even had a tear in my eye at the end. As much as I love nights out with the ladies, and a bit of alone time, I can’t wait to pick my little boy up again and get a “cuggle” and a “wove you” it melts my heart every time I hear it.

    Each moment is so precious and like you say – the world is still out there, and not much changes – but in a 2 year olds eyes everything change so rapidly and I wouldn’t want to miss a thing!

    xx

  • Beautiful, touching post, motherhood is the most important thing in the world and you’re right, everything can wait but I’m also a big believer in not letting the inevitable guilt get you down, it’s about balance (if that even exists)-you had a few events together but then you’ve re-adressed the balance and that’s fine-there’ll be more to come in the future and that’s ok too…I believe happy parent=happy child and it’s vital to be you too, never feel bad for that, you are a great mother and role model for Elsie and it’s wonderful she got quaity time with her Daddy and Grandmax

  • Love this post. My boy is almost 9 weeks old and this brought a tear to my eye. I’m obsessed with him more than anything in the world but it’s important to find a balance. Something I am hoping to learn along the way.

  • It’s so hard to strike that balance isn’t it! But I think it’s easy when we’re so close to our little ones all day every day to lose the wonderful perspective that being away from them, even for a short time, can bring. And I think that’s healthy – perhaps even necessary. As Vicki says, a happy Mummy = a happy child and sometimes that can mean taking a little time out for yourself so that you can come back renewed, refreshed and even more grateful for all that you have. Lovely, lovely post x

  • Feeling a bit choked up here! There is many a time I worry if I’m cut out for this parenting lark but it is those little moments that make it all worth while and remind you what a perfect place you’re in/at! I have friends who want weekends/nights away and I tend to do the fob off because it’s hard to be away. But I do think it’s important to have fun too ;)
    Lovely post darling xxx

  • Oh hon what a gorgeous (if heartbreaking) post. I remember feeling the same when my eldest was Elsie’s age. Nowadays I feel guilty about not being able to spend enough one to one time with my girls. Or that my toddler doesn’t get enough attention, or that i’m not playing with the baby enough. Time is my biggest enemy and lack of it means we all suffer…

    As you said mummy needs to have a life too. Glad you got to have fun lovely, i’m sure Elsie had tons of fun with Daddy & Grandma xxx

  • Hi Katie,

    I too struggle making my peace with the balance (I wrote about it the other month actually — http://bettyandthebumps.com/2014/07/06/loosening-the-apron-strings/) and I think I am getting there.

    To be honest, I was never a particularly sociable person before so maybe that’s why I find it a bit easier to say no to nights out etc (honestly, me in make up and heels is just hilarious!).

    It seems to me that Gwenn has just as a good a time with my husband or my mum or whoever than she does with me. If I go to work or leave her for a few hours to go to the cinema, I never get the impression I’ve pissed her off. We feel it more than they do. When I was just under a year my mum and dad took my older brother away for the weekend to make sure he didn’t feel left out: do I remember this “slight”? No. I was one!

    xxx

  • I was wondering if you ever considered changing the page lagout of your
    blog? Itts very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe yoou could a little more in the waay of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having
    one or 2 images. Maybe you could space it out better?

    my page … tuluxmo.wordpress.com – Cleveland

  • Aww it’s awful when you feel guilty for leaving them. 3 nights this week I’ve had to have someone else look after Luca until I got home from work literally just in time to put him to bed. Then the next morning it’s been up and straight to the childminders and I’ve missed him so much and felt riddled with guilt but sometimes it’s just what we need to do isn’t it?

    The staring at the stars together sounds like perfection and such a precious memory for you. Xx

  • Never feel guilty. Ever. Whatever works for you/your couple and makes you happy will make you a good parent. When L was 2 years old Hubs and I left her in France for 2 weeks to go on a 2 week holiday to the Dominican Republic as our couple desperately needed it after running our own business together, without a break, for 2 years. When she was 16 months old I had to travel to Belgium for a trade fair for 2 weeks, it was agony for me. She is now nearly 8 and none of these times away from her have harmed her in any way. The only things that have hurt her have been when I’ve not been happy with my life (usually work), as she picks up that I’m not happy. So a happy mummy definitely equals a good mummy, so do what works for you, and don’t worry what anyone else thinks. Good luck, this mummy malarkey is a jungle that we’re all bumbling through xx

    • Thank you all so much ladies for sharing your experiences and for the love. It is MUCH appreciated! Mwah x

  • It is so hard saying goodbye but the hello’s are so fabulous! The girls always run to the door with their little arms stretched (shouting mummy, mummy) and give me the biggest hug – I just love it. I think guilt is all part of being a good parent. Also, it’s so important to have some ‘me time’ – that in itself will make you a better mother. Love your honesty Katie xxx

    Heledd
    http://www.runninginlavender.com
    #AllAboutYou

  • Aww beautiful post and it can be such a difficult balance can’t it? No matter how much you can rationalise it and know that they are fine and ots only one night… It just doesn’t help if they are sad about it. We have stepped up the times spent away from Monkey lately, largely to get him used to me not being there for a few days when I go into hospital for the C section. He has coped so well with it which is good, but the hospital stay will be by far the longest time away from my boy! So I really get where you are coming from with this post!! The stargazing sounds like such a magical moment! Xx #allaboutyou

  • Precious! So hard to balance and have children understand why we have to sometimes do other things. Mother guilt is very hard. I think we feel it and think about it much longer than they do though. #allaboutyou

  • I was thinking about you at 5:30 this morning when Reuben and I were watching the crane load up a huge ship in the darkness. I remembered to give him an extra big cuddle :)

    Thanks for linking up to #AllAboutYou xxx

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