What is the definition of mom guilt? Let me take a crack at it first before you Google it. Mom Guilt, by my definition, is a big, black garbage bag of ridiculous emotions generally stemming from being a mom that never feels good enough or consistently feels like they are failing from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed. Am I close? Okay fine..Google it.
It is the name given to the feelings of guilt women experience in relation to their kids. Close enough. Except for one thing– IT IS SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. It’s the automatic feeling that if every second of your entire life doesn’t revolve around your kids you are an absolutely failure. That if you take even 1 minute to do anything remotely for yourself, or do nothing at all– HOW DARE YOU! Even writing this now I can feel the guilt oozing out of my ears because I feel like I’m complaining about my daughter and I can’t stress enough that I wouldn’t change anything about Cora. The good, the bad, the ugly. NOTHING. I’d maybe tweak her attitude a little bit so it doesn’t match mine so much but I swear that’s it.
It isn’t just feeling like you are being ungrateful or complaining all the time. It’s the constant worry that you are not teaching your kids the things they need to know to be a decent human and take care of themselves. Did I teach them how to brush their teeth properly? Am I cooking them a healthy meal with all the food groups? Are they watching too much TV? Am I playing with them enough? Did I yell at them too much? Do they know how much I love them? The list goes on and on and on.
Where did this even come from?! I always believed it was something planted into us the moment we conceived our first child. It has to be because there is no other explanation —except there is. We are expected, as parents, to commute to and work a full time job, come home to another full time job of cooking, cleaning, play time with the kids, school work (if your kids are that age), bath time, bed time routine, and somehow ALSO manage to get ourselves bathed and well rested to wake up and do it all over again forever and ever. NOT TO MENTION somewhere in the chaos we have to remember to take time with our significant others so we don’t lose touch with each other. No wonder we feel like failures!! We are trying to reach an unrealistic bar that God knows who set in the first place. WHO’S IN CHARGE HERE? I’d like to speak to a manager.
I know the term is “mom” guilt but I’d be completely ignorant if I didn’t acknowledge that dads feel guilt, too, and I want you all to know, I see you! I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without Danny. I wouldn’t pick any other teammate because I wouldn’t be able to find one as patient, understanding, and hands on as he is. Shout out to you, Dan! I’m lucky to have the best in him and in Cora’s grandparents who have been by our sides since day 1—but even so the guilt is always there. If Danny is playing with Cora or preoccupying her I always feel like I should also be with them instead of doing whatever the heck I’m doing at that time. If Cora’s grandparents ask to take her overnight I always feel like it’s being viewed as just dumping her off with someone else—even though I know how insane that sounds.
So what do we do? How do we get rid of mom guilt? I don’t think you do. You just kind of make room for it. Place it nice and cozy on the shelf next to exhaustion and chaos. Okay, maybe I’m being a little over dramatic. It’s not all doom and gloom and I’ve found a few ways that have helped me make it a little less heavy on my mind and I hope that maybe you’ll find some sort of peace with them:
- Acknowledge that regardless of what you read or hear—parenting is hard. Give yourself some damn grace. I used to be so upset because I would see people sharing pictures of their laughing and smiling babies and I would look at Cora who was having her umpteenth melt down of the day and wonder what I was doing wrong. Truth is people don’t usually use a tantrum as a photo op. People are more likely to share the happy moments than the sad or bad so keep in mind there are things you DON’T see and trust me —-the shit behind the curtain isn’t always pretty.
- The only person that sets standards for you and your unit—is you. You are the captain of your own ship wreck. Some days you are going to feel like your ship is on fire and sinking fast and that’s okay. Accept that there are going to be days like that. Sometimes more than others!
- Take the damn time to care for yourself, too and do it shamelessly. The DUMBEST thing I have EVER heard when Cora was born was “it’s all about baby now.” BULLSHIT. BUUUUUUUULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLSHIT. Yes, a big chunk of attention is, in fact on baby. I won’t pretend or sugar coat that it isn’t, however, it is not ALL about baby and don’t for 1 minute let yourself feel ashamed because it isn’t. You are a human being with human needs physically, mentally, emotionally. Period. If you need a moment to yourself – take a moment to yourself. Want to get a work out in? Find that time to get a workout in. Even if its just a walk by yourself to get lost in your thoughts. Want to write a blog with one of your best friends? Damn it take the time and start typing. I get it, mamas, it’s so easy for us to put ourselves on the back burner. You too, dads—but if we don’t do things to keep our mentality in check how the hell are we supposed to muster up the will to keep our kids in check?
- This one is kind of in addition to #3 but I feel it is important. I need you to hear what I am about to say. If you are a mom, a dad, a step parent..whatever you are: taking care of your basic needs is not a break. REPEAT. Taking 👏🏽 care 👏🏽 of 👏🏽 your 👏🏽 basic 👏🏽 needs 👏🏽 is 👏🏽 not 👏🏽 a 👏🏽 break 👏🏽. Taking a shower- not a break. Running errands by yourself- also not a break (although it feels like one)! I could go on and on about what isn’t a break but I will 100% call myself out when I say I have NO IDEA what constitutes as a break anymore. I suppose if I’m trying to put it into words a break, at least for me, would be the ability to do something mindlessly for myself without having to think about or do something for anyone else. **cue mom guilt because even putting it into words like that makes me feel like I’m being selfish and ungrateful** but like my sister would say, “it be that way sometimes.”
- Remind yourself every day that you are doing the best that you possibly can with your current situations.
So what if you got after your kids more than a handful of times today for doing what they shouldn’t. So what if your kids had dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets 2 (maybe 3) nights in a row because you didn’t want to argue with them to try something new. SO WHAT if your house looks like Dorothy is about to come through the front door and yell she’s not in Kansas anymore. If you are too busy trying to meet stupid, unrealistic, standards you are going to miss out on the things you should be enjoying with being a parent. Yes, like I’ve said millions of times, parenting is hard— but it shouldn’t always be miserable.
I hope that you find ways to give yourself some grace and know that you are enough. Your kids don’t see the things you didn’t do. You see a messy house—they see all the fun things they did that day. You see a repetitive dinner because you didn’t have the energy to cook—they see that mom made their favorite meal again! #newperspective
You got this!