We beat ourselves up, us ladies, especially those in the transition phase between the olden days (know your place, accept inequality, do your duty to your husband) and these days where having a man is not the be all and end all of our lives and we are completely in charge of our own destiny.
So here are some common reasons women feel guilty – and why we shouldn’t.
Housework: If, like many women, you’re juggling being a wife, mother and worker, the housework could well be your main source of guilt. In which case, identify the tasks that need to be done most, i.e. those that will soon pile up and cause more guilt (you’ve no clean knickers; school shirts aren’t ironed) as opposed to those the family likely won’t even notice (i.e. dusting). And draw up a chore rota – the rest of the family can get involved and do their bit too – it’s not just your job these days.
Taking sick days : If you’re genuinely ill, you’re doing neither yourself nor your employer any favours by struggling in. If you’re not performing at 100%, and if you’re in a sales job, for example, wouldn’t it be better for a colleague at full strength to close that sale than you struggle your way through it, potentially losing the client?
Motherhood: Damned if we do, damned if we don’t, right? Every woman has to find their own way when it comes to parenting. Sure, they give you parenting books but reality doesn’t come neatly packaged. While there are some obvious do’s and don’ts, every child will respond differently. Read the advice, listen to other mums, check things out with health professionals then do what works best for you and your child – and don’t believe everything the playground mafia tell you about their perfect lives and children.
Breastfeeding: The mothers who breastfeed and do so where and when required are very vocal (quite rightly), along with midwives and other health professionals about the benefits of breastfeeding. But if you don’t want to breastfeed in public, then don’t. And if you don’t want to breastfeed at all, then that’s fine too.
Feminism: Let’s get this clear right from the off – being a feminist does not mean you hate men. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s recognising that for all members of a society to feel valued, they should have an equal say in how their society runs, and not be subject to discrimination.
Caring: You have a job, children, a husband and elderly parents and you’re feeling split between them all because there aren’t enough hours in the day. Hang on, haven’t you forgotten someone? Oh, yes – YOU! Think for a moment how any of them would cope if anything happened to you? So don’t feel guilty for that little bit of me time you take: you need to recharge your batteries and if that means reading a book in the bath in the company of an overflowing laundry basket, so be it.
Body image. Thankfully, the messages these days is about being healthy, as opposed to being thin, curvy, hipless or with cheekbones to die for. Being obese is not healthy, neither is being stick thin. Wean yourself away from the unhealthy images – if you want a glossy magazine to read, with practical lifestyle features and interesting content about interesting people, pick up the Radio Times – where said featured people come in all shapes, sizes and ages.
Take control of your life and don’t apologise for doing so – it’s as valuable as everyone else’s.