I really thought I had screwed up motherhood. After my second daughter was born I didn’t cope the way I wanted to, didn’t act in a way I was proud of and I felt like I had failed as a mum. Big time. Every night when I went to bed I would go through all the things I had done wrong that day - I didn’t give my girls any vegetables, I hadn’t taught then their ABCs, I’d lost it at them, I let them watch too much TV.... I read book after book on parenting which only made me feel worse and worse.
Then one day I was out by myself jogging and that harsh record of regret started playing in my head. All of a sudden I stopped in my tracks and said to myself, ‘That’s enough. You tell your daughters to forgive, you’re a big believer in forgiving others, it’s time to forgive yourself. Yes. Forgive yourself.’
I spent years thinking I wasn’t good enough as a mother. That I was a bad mum. But that decision I made to forgive myself was a game-changer. I came home and wrote myself a letter, ‘I forgive you for screaming, for the mummy tantrums, for the period of post-natal depression, for thinking about throwing your baby out the window, for the dread you felt, for the wanting to run away...’
When my Dad died I realized all the things that I found so frustrating and annoying about him didn’t matter. All I thought about and continue to were the wonderful things about him and the great times we had together. That’s what I think about now when I look back at the 11.5 years of motherhood I’ve had so far. Through forgiving myself I can now remember so many moments that I have been an amazing mum. Moments of cuddles, reading stories and dancing round the living room swinging my little girls in the air.
I’ve asked my daughters if there’s certain things they remember that I feel ashamed of and, like my memories of my Dad, their answer is no. They remember the fun, joyous times of which there have been plenty.
Forgiveness can free you from regret. It’s a powerful thing. Is there something you need to forgive yourself for?
Happy Mother’s Day.