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How to shake parenting guilt
My partner left and moved interstate when our child was 5 months old. I moved closer to him when our child was just over a year old.
For 3 years I have had no support network. Completely isolated. I have a long list of medical issues including PTSD, GAD, OCD, social anxiety and depression which make it hard for me to make new friends. It is exhausting pretending to be fine while raising our child.
Without the long story, I sacrificed a lot, multiple times over from pregnancy through to current day. I may be a little bitter about it, some may say that's just what mums do.
For the sake of our daughter, I need to move back to my friends and family. I can't shake the guilt, though. I moved to ensure a strong father/child relationship. How can I tear our child away from that? It's a 4+ hour trip and neither my ex nor myself drive. I still love him but it's toxic. Even with a support network I don't feel strong enough to let it all go and deal with all that comes with it.
The guilt you're feeling is a sign that you are a good mother who is concerned about your child's needs, and making sure your daughter is able to be close to both her parents. So let's put that in a little box for a moment, and see it for what it is. Now let's come back to you, as your daughter's primary caregiver. What happens if you become so worn down that you're not able to care for your daughter? What kind of environment will she have without you being able to fire on all cylinders, exhausted and burnt out from pretending to be fine? It sounds like you have already reached the conclusion that you know to be the righr one, which is moving back so you can be close to friends, family and a proper support network. It was your partner who made the choice to move away, not you, and he is equally responsible for ensuring he has a relationship with his daughter.
Welcome to the forum. It is hard sometimes to write your first post so thanks for reaching out.
When I was about to reply to your post I saw Jess's thought reply so I wont repeat her helpful advice.
Guilt comes as soon as you give birth. My children are in their 30s and I still feel guilty.
You are doing a great job as a mum as you are worrying about what your choices mean for your daughter.
You are thinking of your daughter when you are planning to move back to friends and family.
The main thing is you look after yourself, as Jess says if you get exhausted and worn down you would find it hard to care for your daughter.
Thanks again for sharing your story.
Feel free to post here as much as you like .
Jess and Quirky offer much wisdom!
Maybe it would help to look at this kind decision or choice in a slightly different way, involving physical care as opposed to psychological care:
Imagine 3 people. One of these people is in the greatest need regarding physical assistance and support. They need extra attention and must have access to the best resources in order to receive such attention. Should that 1 person be deprived of the physical care they need at this time, for the sake of the other 2 who are capable of adapting? Just to add a little emphasis - in the world of emergency medicine, the person in need of the greatest care is given preference at the time. Things may always change again in the future, in another new way, but at this time it sounds like you need to be given preference.
Mental health is definitely just as important as physical health. And as far as guilt goes, I agree with Quirky. I'm sure some guilt switch gets triggered the second we give birth. I believe guilt is often just asking us to STOP and make a fully conscious decision, not one based on old mental programs that mean we have to suffer in some way. You know those old programs such as 'Mothers and wives (or ex wives) must put themselves last for the sake of others' or 'Physical pain is real and mental pain just needs to be sucked up and endured' (grrr, I especially hate that last one). Time to consider a new mental program DevineM! Perhaps it can be ' I will lead by example when it comes to showing my daughter the importance of looking after our mental well-being'.
You have obviously gone out of your way to adapt for the sake of others in the past. Sounds like it's time for a new management plan, one that supports you. Perhaps consider some ideas to offer your ex as a part of your new plan, such as train travel from one destination to another if that's possible or meeting half way on occasion. If you do move home, I imagine you will rediscover a network of people who will help all 3 of you manage the changes that come through challenge. If your ex is reasonable, he may be able to offer his own constructive ideas in regard to you moving.
Whilst you are understandably giving great consideration to the world you may choose to leave behind, even greater consideration could be given to a world of possibilities that may open up to you and your daughter, through the action of change. If only we had a crystal ball, hey?!
Take care of yourself