One of the constants of motherhood is the universal “mom guilt.” I mean, you can’t count on much in life to stay consistent, but if you’re a mom, you can count on guilt being your consistent bestie for the long haul.
It actually starts as soon as you pee on that stick and get a positive result, am I right? From “Should I drink coffee while pregnant?” to “What if I forget their doctors appointments??” to “Will they die before age 30 if I don’t buy organic peanut butter?” — the mom guilt struggle is REAL! And, totally, 100% CONSTANT Every. Single. Day.
What bothers me is the mom-guilt we have in our generation compared to other generations. Who put this on us? Or are we putting it on ourselves? Are we putting impossible expectations on ourselves and on others?
I have best friends that are literally rock star moms; some are working moms, stay at home moms, part time moms, volunteer moms, and bread winning moms. The list goes ON. We all do things differently, but I know our constant is “mom guilt.”
I worked as a teacher when I was pregnant with my first child, Ella. I took 4 months off on maternity leave before returning back to the classroom. I was grateful that I could put her in a preschool program with me at the same school I taught at. She was on the 1st floor and I was on the 3rd floor- God had me covered! The mom guilt I felt during this time was unfathomable. Throw in the working mom guilt fueled by new mom hormones, and you have a recipe for hot mess. I’ll never forget ugly faced, hyperventilating crying because I missed “muffins for moms”. I was team lead for a field trip we were going on and wasn’t going to be on campus.
Ella was not even a one year old, but I acted as though she was going to be scarred for life because her mom wasn’t there. A great teacher friend cried WITH me when I was upset about this (which now seems ridiculous but my hormones conquered) Dana – if you are reading this, I haven’t forgotten this moment. She comforted me & breathed life back into my mama heart just by crying with me and making me feel as though I was not insane because we ALL feel it. She has been there and so have you.
In this journey of working while being a mom, there was also a time when a wonderful co-worker felt the need to say to me weekly, in the middle of our staff gathering for prayer- “I don’t know why you are here, you should be at home with that baby.” I will never forget how those words cut me and put a lump in my throat.
So it dawned on me- do we do this to each other? Or do we do this to ourselves? We judge, we care way too much what others are doing which makes us care too much about what others think. WE HAVE TO STOP! It is getting a bit out of control.
I am now a stay at home mom and mom guilt still shows its face daily.
- Am I stimulating my kids enough?
- I am home all day and still cant get dinner started
- Am I giving the twins enough attention?
- Am I giving my toddler enough attention?
- I feel horrible for sending my kid to school but I also feel horrible that she is hostage at home.
- Am I giving my husband enough attention?
- Am I feeding my kids the right thing?
- Am I taking care of myself?
- Am I selfish for starting a blog to help others and taking time from my kids?
It is constant! Do you feel it? I truly feel like we are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
I recently put Ella back in school. I had to literally be counseled by friends to tell me that putting her back in being 3 years old was the best thing for her. I felt guilty because I am home and I cannot give her what she needs. I let myself have 24 hours of mom guilt and then I moved on. She is thriving and I know in my heart, it is best for her, best for me, and best for my family.
The world we live in can be a liar sometimes. It paints a picture that we have to do this perfectly- which brings on all of the guilt. There’s no “one-way” to do this well. WE DO OUR BEST…and guess what? OUR BEST IS ENOUGH, and even if it isn’t…that’s all we can offer.
There are a thousand, million, opinions out there about the “right” way to parent.
Sometimes we gotta let that crap go, and trust our gut.
There are some things that are out of our control, but as Jack from This is Us said,
“We’re their parents,
we do the best we can,
but at the end of the day…
what happens to them?
It’s bigger than us.”
Cue all of the tears because I just cannot handle Jack.
Why is it so hard to trust ourselves when it comes to parenting?
Is it because we’re scared?
Is it because parenthood has become more like an Olympic sport than an organic process?
Is it because we look back at the mistakes our parents made and are scared to make the same ones?
Is it because we’ve realized that the standard we judged our parents by was actually pretty unfair and even impossible?
Is it because we think the preschool we choose might be the actual difference between raising a humanitarian or a drug dealer?
Is it because we doubt that our love is enough? Is it because we long for a futuristic thanksgiving table full of friendship and laughter?
Yes, I think so.
A word to my generation of moms…
We’ve got this. Mom guilt is a liar. No one can do it all. Trust your gut and do the best you can…we are in this together.
The kids are going to be fine.