I am changing gears a little bit today for this blog.
I want to talk about Mother’s Guilt.
Doctors use words like postpartum, exhaustion, and hormonal changes. They give you pamphlets and offer advice on how to combat these things. They give you warning signs and reds flags to look for.
But what they don’t tell you about is guilt.
And the reason they don’t is because Mother’s Guilt is illogical and unrealistic. There are no mental health diagnoses for it. There are no medications (besides anxiety meds) to help ease the mental anguish. Mother’s Guilt is something I truly believe that most mothers put on their selves unknowingly. It comes with the job description just in very tiny font at the bottom of the page.
They say fear is illogical. The logical part of your brain knows there are no monsters under the bed or hiding in the closet, it knows you locked the door and checked it twice, and that vampires aren’t real.
Mother’s Guilt is similar to fear.
Mother’s Guilt is feeling bad, unworthy, unloved, or less of a mother for irrational reasons.
Mother’s Guilt is washing the dishes so your child can have his favorite green cup with the robot on the lid and then feeling bad for not spending that extra 25 minutes with him.
Mother’s Guilt is getting off of work and immediately counting the hours and minutes you have left with your child before bedtime and THEN feeling bad for being relieved when you finally lay him down to sleep.
Mother’s Guilt is reading a bed time story, giving 6 hugs, and 13 kisses and feeling bad because you told your child no to “one last kiss” after the 12th “last kiss”.
It is crazy. It is nonsense. We are good moms. We do our part. Our house is livable, the children are fed, warm, and happy. And we beat ourselves up about the smallest detail of the day. All the stuff we did right that day is overshadowed by the one “mistake” we made.
Stop the self abuse.
It is one thing to be educated and informed but its another to torture yourself. If you are a career mom stay away from the articles with titles like “10 reasons why you should stay at home with your kids”. For my stay at home moms don’t waste time reading about how your child is missing out by staying at home with you. Don’t do it to yourself. Don’t become part of these mom groups on Facebook disguised to be a helpful community of moms sharing information and experiences but in reality are aimed at mom-shaming.
Mommas, you know what I am talkin’ about. You post one picture of your child with a Kit-Kat bar and all of a sudden every other mom in the world is a specialist on nutrition.
Don’t compare yourself to other mom’s. Every mom parents different. And in a world where different equals wrong, you are going to be met with opposition.
One concept that I have learned in my field of work is that children are so resilient. They deal with changes and roll with the punches way better than most adults can do. That extra 15 minutes you had to work over doesn’t phase your child and that one time you raised your voice at your child did not scar him for life.
Hear me when I say there is a huge difference between a bad mom and a mom that has had a bad day.
The simple fact that you care enough to feel guilty, makes you a good mom.
We will be laying in our beds at night thinking about that 15 extra minutes and that verbal scolding till we fall asleep. All the while, our child has already moved on and is enjoying an episode of Paw Patrol.
I can cook sloppy joes for my child, the easiest dish in the world to make, feel bad that I didn’t make a more well rounded meal. And you know what? Without fail, he will look at me and tell me “you do the best cookin’ momma”.
I wish I had the magic words to end Mother’s Guilt for all the moms. But I don’t.
Some tips I have picked up along the way would be:
- As I said before, be smart and read helpful articles, but stay away from blogs written for the sole purpose of mom-shaming or articles written to divide mother’s into categories.
- Don’t compare your parenting choices to others. As parents we have the overwhelming task of making life shaping decisions for other humans. That in itself can cause stress. Once you feel secure about your decision for your child, don’t go looking for trouble by asking people what their opinions are.
- Go with your gut. No one knows your child like you do.
- Don’t second guess yourself, mama. You are doing a great job.
- Practice self-care. (Insert eye roll here) I know, I know. Self-care can definitely cause some serious mom guilt. You already felt bad enough for vacuuming instead of playing in the floor with your toddler. So, I know how bad you will feel for leaving the house for a pedicure, but it is important. Happy moms equal happy children. Your kids want to see you happy and they want to see you do stuff for yourself.
- Feed off of your child’s energy. They are healthy because of you. They are fed and clothed because of you. They are safe because of you. You give them a reason to smile and laugh. You are a hero in your child’s eyes. Use that to know that you are doing something right.
- Remember that children inherently loved their mommas. It is engrained in them. Recite that to yourself on the days when you are feeling mediocre.
- Find an outlet to channel your negative feelings about yourself. Some people blog (lol). Some people draw. Some people exercise. Get out of your own head and give yourself a break.
We have Mother’s Guilt because we care and because we strive for perfection as mothers. However, we are working towards an unattainable goal. No one mother is perfect, we never will be. Accepting that simple fact will lessen the pressure you have put on yourself.
So what do you do right now? Let go of as much Mother’s guilt as you can and keep learning, growing, and making mistakes and still end up with some really loved, happy, and healthy children.
You got to trust yourself and the process. Most importantly, go to bed every night knowing that you are enough.
“All’s well that ends well”. -William Shakespeare