My eldest is almost 16 but I remember at toddler group a mum saying how tired she was but that she felt she always needed to play with her children - make belief, at the park, cars, kitchens, lego, whatever they wanted. All day... apart from nap times. I didn't do that and maybe that was where the guilt began.
I went to the park with the youngest two the other day and little one asked me to push her on the roundabout - I did. But then as she moved on to the next activity I just stood and watched her, shivering. I got my phone out to take a couple of photos of the girls having fun. Pictures of my guilt.
We have Youtube videos of someone opening tubs of playdough on in our house - no I don't get it but she seems to like it and so she watches it.
We sometimes skip mealtime for snacks in front of a movie with blankets and pyjamas on - I don't think they got their two a day never mind about five.
This morning I took little one in her slippers to drop my daughter off at school - truthfully I would have worn mine if I could drive in them. I had no make up on and my hair was just put up in casually (translate I couldn't be bothered).
I saw the looks from other parents walking their children into school whilst I let mine run off herself into the playground whilst I didn't get out the car. Lazy mum, uncaring, irresponsible.
Oh my, I don't need you to look at me like that I already know I am a terrible mum. The problem with all these things that you may look and see as terrible is that I believe that it's okay so doesn't that make me even more terrible?
I actually think my kids are doing okay - they have developed imagination to learn to play and create for themselves, they dare to try to do things on their own and feel proud when they manage it and have resilience when they can't. When my little one couldn't manage the bigger wooden equipment she looked at me and said "I'm too small for this" and ran off to something else. I followed her, she had learnt her own space in that world, her own capability for now and expectation for the future. I had just stood and allowed her.
Healthy eating is important but my kids love movie nights and have memories from them.
I ask my daughter every time if she wants me to take her into the playground and she doesn't, she loves that she is old enough to go by herself, there are no roads to cross and I know she is going there, she is safe.
Will my children have issues? Yes. Have I done my best? I hope so.
The main reason I confess to being a terrible mum is because I am bothered by what other people are thinking as they see me stood around, phone in hand, doing nothing. I confess to letting others expectations make me feel like I'm not doing the best. I confess to believing in free play, exploration, independence, adventure and at the end of the day walking hand in hand with my child, side by side where they feel secure as they tell me what they have done. By the way that little hand is normally at least a little bit grubby - terrible isn't it?