“Mom Guilt” — so common it has its own hashtag. #MomGuilt
It’s a phrase we all know. It’s probably an emotion we all experience on a regular basis. It often stems from comparing ourselves to the perfect lives that other moms create on social media. We feel it when we get frustrated and yell at our kids. Or perhaps we don’t feel there is enough time in the day to give our kids they attention they deserve. Maybe your family looks different than those of your kids’ friends, and you worry that your kids will get teased.
Some of the guilt stems from bad decisions we make. Or maybe good decisions just feel bad right now. Some guilt comes from circumstances over which we have no control. But whether we took part in creating the situation or not? We still manage to beat ourselves up over our concerns that we are doing it wrong.
I recently read a piece of advice somewhere. The gist? If you are asking yourself if you are doing enough, if you wonder whether or not you are a good enough mother — then it’s likely you are. Or at least you are on the right path for this motherhood journey. Because you care enough to ask those questions.
So, today I ask you to give yourself a break from the mom guilt. And I ask you to do that through the power of confession. Let’s share. Because in doing so, I think (OK, I know) that we will realize we all carry moments in parenting that we regret. We each worry over details about our lives we wish we could change for the better. Let’s support each other through those feelings. Let’s give each other the power to release the guilt.
I make this request knowing that there are some moments that are too painful to share — moments for which the guilt and the grief run deep. I have a few of those. And I never would ask anyone to disclose such examples. (Although, I do hope you discuss your pain with your spouse or trusted friend or counselor. Don’t harbor it solo.) Today, I’m just referring to those every day examples in which we convince ourselves that we fall short.
Last week when I had a headache that had me in tears and wanting to drill through my left eye to relieve the pressure, I put a box of cereal, an apple, and a jar of peanut butter on the kitchen table and told the kids to figure out dinner. Then, I crawled back into bed. #MomGuilt
My son asked me to stop looking at my phone because he didn’t think I was listening to him. #MomGuilt
When the phone rings and I see it’s the school calling, I silently plead that the nurse is not calling to tell me my kid is sick because I don’t want to use vacation days on sickness. (See also – I don’t want to use vacation days on snow.) #MomGuilt
I have fewer years left with my daughter at home than I’ve had with her. This causes me to worry that I’m running out of time to teach her all the life skills I want her to have. #MomGuilt
I don’t cook delicious homecooked meals with a variety of vegetables and proteins and colors. I default to the “breakfast for dinner” or “chicken nuggets and fruit” options way too often. Does anyone remember the amazing spread that Bree Van de Kamp prepared for her family in the first episode ever of Desperate Housewives? (Am I dating myself with that reference?!) That’s what I wish I could do every night. #MomGuilt
My kids don’t like to read as much as I did when I was a kid. It pains me that they don’t often get lost in pages of a story. And I wonder at least once a week what I did or didn’t do to create this situation. #MomGuilt
When my kids are playing outside and I hear one of the neighbor children ask them, “Why don’t you have a daddy?” #MomGuilt
I feel like I should be setting a better example for my kids by exercising more. But then I feel bad when I leave them to go for a run or to the gym when I’ve been away from them at work all day. #MomGuiltTwice
Sometimes I yell. #MomGuilt
I am currently taking classes two nights a week in addition to working at my office all day. I picked up my son from after care, and he said from the backseat, “I’m glad we have these five minutes alone to talk because I never see you anymore.” #MomGuilt
To be honest, I know I should work to improve some of the circumstances that result in guilt. I can put my phone in another room until the kids are asleep and be more intentional about creating time for our family. I can find more ways to exercise WITH the kids. We always should try to be better people tomorrow than we are today — in all aspects of our lives. But beating ourselves up in the process? It’s not the way to make us stronger or more whole.
When I went through my divorce, one of the suggested assignments given in my DivorceCare class was to write letters to our former spouses. We were to let out our feelings of anger and betrayal and regret. I did this for several months. And then I threw the notebook filled with my words in the fire. It felt great. Putting those emotions on paper and then removing them from existence actually worked. So, on hopefully a much lighter note than the end of a marriage and all of that intense fallout, let’s remove some of the emotional load of our mom guilt today.