“But Mummy, you NEVER play with me….” my little girl exclaims.
I know that isn’t true. She knows it’s not true. But she also knows how to push my guilt buttons and make me feel bad about settling her down in front of Cbeebies while I write my weekly newsletter, which is already a day late.
Two minutes later, she has forgotten the comment, but the guilt will stay with me for the rest of the day now.
She doesn’t say these things out of malice, temper (although she does stamp her foot sometimes), or even because she wants me to play with her. She is five. She does it to get a reaction, it is a game to her – she gets a reaction as my face falls and she can see she has got me, so she has won.
To her, it is a game. The innocent comment to me, however, is a shot to the heart, a lightning bolt and a black cloud descends. She has hit a nerve…
The Demon that is my Guilt Monster, rises within me.
I know what it is going to say, it’s always the same thing, regardless of how I am feeling.
I am powerless against that first twinge of guilt.
However, what I do have control over, is how I react to it.
And so, the Guilt Monster starts…
“Selfish Mother – sticking your child in front of the TV. That poor neglected child is deprived, and will probably end up in therapy….”
“You are such a bad Mother – you put your children in nursery when they were tiny, so you could run your own business, a proper Mother wouldn’t do that…”
“Now you look forward to Monday mornings when the kids go to school, so you can play at being a business mum – it’s wrong…”
And so my Guilt Monster goes on…..
I know I am not the only business Mum who has this Guilt Monster, and unfortunately he is fuelled by people’s off-the-cuff comments. “Don’t you miss your children while they are at school?” Errr? No! And it certainly doesn’t make me a bad Mother.
Unfortunately for my Guilt Monster, I can see him for what he is today, and I can deal with it appropriately.
I may be powerless over my initial reaction (I’m human, after all…) but I can choose how I react.
The Guilt Monster is the negative chatter than goes on in my head, those doubtful mind monkeys. They are a combination of my conditioning, my upbringing, parents and society in general.
The comment my own Mother made to me when I was 14 “Proper Mother’s don’t work!” It still haunts me.
However, I can see this negativity for what it is and deal with it.
Is it true? Do I never play with my children?!?
Well, of course it’s not true!
I run my business around my family. I take my children to school and pick them up. I’m there at half term and holidays.
Yes, I did put them in nursery. Yes, I do look forward to Monday mornings to get on with my work. Yes, they do go to a child-minder and to holiday clubs occasionally.
I don’t feel guilty though – I spend quality time with my children. To me, quality is more important than quantity. It’s more important for me to have relaxed, fun, quality time with them, than to be with them 24/7 and not enjoy one minute of it.
I am not one of nature’s natural maternal characters. I am not a super stop-at-home mum – there are only so many episodes of Peppa Pig I can watch before going round the bend!
I choose to have a business AND a family.
Today, I am happy to be me! I am a mum and love my kids to bits and I spend fantastic quality time with them. I am also a business woman. I love what I do and get such a buzz out of helping other mums in business.
On the whole, I have a guilt-free work/life balance. I believe that is available to everyone. It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ – everyone is different, and I believe everyone can achieve it.
That doesn’t mean to say, when I am in a bad space, the Guilt Monster doesn’t get to me!
Although I know the warning signs and how to deal with it these days, I am, after all, only human!
Written by Debbie Miodonski from Small Business Money Mastery