'This pandemic has defeated me': Suffering from mum guilt in lockdown
In the beginning, I was on some sort of a chaotic high. Survival mode kicked in, my mum-mind spinning with ideas on ‘how to deal’. These ideas still float past me now nine weeks later, very few of them in fruition. I must admit, I am not quite coping. Though I am utterly privileged to have a roof over my head and a healthy little girl to follow about each day, this pandemic has defeated me… and I know I am not the only one.
The mum-guilt has donned a new guise… She is dressed in stained pyjamas and wears a facemask that she should have disposed of. Her hair is unwashed, the ends uneven from when she felt brave with scissors for a moment. There are children with similar horrifying haircuts, clinging to her legs. They talk at her, raving about their latest Disney-plus adventure, reminding her that they have exceeded their allocated screen time on the ‘daily schedule’…again. This is the guilty mum, lockdown style.
The internal voice is the same, only louder. It is telling us that we are not doing enough. We are not making our little humans smile enough times during the day, not teaching them enough amazing things about the world, not cooking exciting new meals for them. It is saying we should grow or paint pretty things in the garden and snap pictures to prove it. It is saying that if the pandemic ends before we finish the list, we have failed. If we have not taught our kids to tie their shoelaces, to ride their bikes, to identify every European country on the map or to play Hey Jude on the guitar, we have wasted this precious time together. Then it scolds and taunts us because not only have we failed at this, but the house is a mess. Laundry is piling up and there is lego in every crevice of the house because work lasts longer than nine-to-five these days.
In a few months, we will be feeling guilty about something else. Any slight frustration will be followed by some classic mum-guilt because ‘at least the lockdown has been lifted’ and how dare we complain now. It’s a cycle that only the strongest can break, but at least we can take solace in the fact that we are not alone.
We are all feeling these challenges, regardless of how sparkly and perfect your newsfeed may appear.