MOM GUILT: The Struggle Is Real...
Mom Guilt? Whassah? No comprendo…
Mom Guilt -/mäm ɡilt/
1- A mother’s feeling of guilt, doubt, anxiousness or uncertainty experienced by mothers when they worry they're failing or falling short of expectations in some way. For many moms–particularly new, working or single moms–the variables that contribute to this phenomenon are numerous and intense. (via ActiveKids)
2- Guilt a mother feels anytime she takes time to do something for herself, outside of work, that does not involve her children. (via Urban Dictionary)
Most of us moms just want to do the right thing for our children, but what IS the right thing? Is it what our mothers taught us? Is it what they didn’t teach us? Is it what society says it is? What do we need to be doing, really? Where’s the freaking manual? I need to know… am I doing the right thing? I think I am, but…
Mamas, don’t you hate it when someone tells you how to mother your own child(ren)? Only you know what’s best for your own child! Wait, I think so. Yes. Wait, no. Let me think about that. Who knows the right answer?
No one knows.
But many think they know.
Co-sleeping is dangerous for your child.
Co-sleeping is a wonderful way of bonding with your child.
Pacifiers are a no-no. Your child’s teeth will grow in crooked.
Pacifiers are a wonderful way to comfort your baby when they’re in distress.
Breastfeeding is the only way to feed your baby.
Ew! This woman is breastfeeding her baby in public! Can’t she wait, or go to a (nasty) bathroom?
Time-out is a good method to use when teaching your child discipline.
Disciplining your child like that will have an emotional toll on your child.
…and it goes on and on and on.
We read books, magazines, and blogs. We ask the doctors, nurses, other moms, and our own mamas for advice. We’re human, but we’re expected to be superhuman.
On top of understanding what we should do, we often questions what we shouldn’t do. What do we do? What shouldn’t we do? Here are real-life examples of when us moms question ourselves, leaving us to feel bad (guilty) for doing “this” or “that”:
“After I got married and started having children, I struggled with working full time AND working out. I mean, I’m at work from 8AM-5PM, I pick up my kids, we go to the gym, and I leave them in the kids’ area… then I feel bad for leaving there because I’ve not seen them all day. Not working out isn’t an option and not working is not an option. I have to work to take care of my kids, and I want to be strong so I can keep on taking care of my kids…”
“I got busted while slipping the dollar bill under my daughter’s pillow while she was waiting for the tooth fairy, and then I had to tell her the tooth fairy isn’t real. I’m pretty sure I destroyed her sense of Santa Claus, too…”
”My husband and I took a vacation for the first time in 3 years without our kids (they stayed at my in-law’s. When I returned to work and mentioned where my kids were while I was away, my co-worker gasped as if I had done something really wrong, Did I? I don’t think so, but now…”
”I wanted to breastfeed my son until he was at least a year old, but my milk just started to dry up. I had to start introducing vitamin D milk earlier than I wanted to, but feel bad that my body just couldn’t do it.”
Some of the leading experts on motherhood, who are also mothers, suggest the following:
In addition to creating a “to-do” list, create a “stop-doing” list. If you’re going to add things onto your load, you have to learn to let go of the things that aren’t as important to you. What will it be? Sit down and create the list to begin… (Liz Strom, The Life Coach, lizstrom.com)
Get off the phone (it’s one thing we could spend less time on). It’s a hard thought to process, but your work emails and social media can wait while you decide how best to spend your time with your child(ren). (Rachel, https://amotherfarfromhome.com)
Ask for help. Yes, this seems obvious, but sometimes it’s not as easy as it sounds. You don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders alone. It does take a village. Ask for help from your partner, your in-laws, and your trusted village so you never feel your children aren’t spending quality time with someone they enjoy.
Understanding that guilt can be a reflex for many of us, sometimes using words of affirmation helps to counter-balance the negativity. Try speaking these words to yourself when you feel guilty, “I’m doing the best I can”, “I’m doing the right thing for my child(ren)”, “I love my children and I am doing what’s best”, “Everything is ok, and will continue to be ok”, etc. Find the phrases that work best for you. Check out this great reference HERE.
LET’S BE REAL
There is no such thing as a “perfect mom”.
YOU are the perfect mom for your child(ren).
Even in the days of June Cleaver, moms did the best they could with what they had. That’s all you can do.
The issue these days is that we compare ourselves to what we see around us. We come up with the idea that we aren’t as good as moms we see on Instagram (sound familiar?). We don’t really know what’s going on in their lives and, to be honest, I’m pretty sure it’s not all sunshine and cuddles. Pictures give us inspiration and insight, but we shouldn’t use them as a comparison.
What kind of mom do YOU want to be?
What kind of mom do you want to be REALISTICALLY?
Is your answer “loving”? You already are!
Is your answer “a mom who’s got it all together”? What does that even mean? This depends on your perspective.
Just know that you’re enough, just as you are, doing the best with what you have, in this day and age. There might be a few things you could tweak, but who couldn’t? We’re human. You’re a loving mother. Please don’t lose sight of that.