Hello there! Does my title make you curious? I hope so. I come before you today with a little something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. I want to talk about the problems I have with mom guilt and why I think we all need to just calm down and back off.
I missed writing on Monday, which really frustrated me. I like to keep to a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday posting schedule. But the weekend really did me in, and I wound up just not worrying about doing a post Monday. That didn’t stop me from feeling guilty, though. I wanted to post, but I was absolutely exhausted and unable to focus.
These last few days, I confronted myself with the guilt I felt about not posting. I realized I put so much pressure on myself to get everything right that I blamed myself for something that shouldn’t matter that much. My blog is important to me, yes, but my health is more important to me. When I find myself fighting exhaustion and pain to get a post written, I’m forcing myself and not being authentic.
But that guilt persists even when I know I’ve only missed an arbitrary deadline I set for myself!
I know a lot of women who are like me. We put these arbitrary goals and deadlines on ourselves, feel extreme pressure to get them done, and then punish ourselves if we fail. No one else gave us these goals and deadlines, but we feel like a failure for not meeting them. And it shows.
Moms do this with our children, too. We go through pregnancy with these visions of what our children will be like. Then we experience labor and suddenly hold a squalling, messy bundle of joy. Our tiny humans look at us with big eyes of trust, and our worlds shift.
Suddenly all those books we read come crashing down on us. The doctors give us paperwork to read and take home. We watch videos in the hospital before checkout. Then we go home with these tiny babies who rely on us for everything and we panic.
Or maybe that’s just me.
If we haven’t already joined a half dozen groups—both in person and online—about taking care of our child, we jump at every suggestion. Every little hiccup our littles experience becomes a chance to question ourselves. Our minds run rampant with questions.
Is he too hot? Does she have enough to eat? Why is he crying? Did she wet her diaper? What is that smell? Did he just smile at me or was that gas?! What should she wear to church? Does he really need socks to go out?
Then we experience a problem. And our minds race with even more questions.
He’s been crying for hours! Is he sick? She keeps pulling her legs up to her chest. Is that gas? Oh my gosh, it’s time for the doctor’s appointment. I hope he’s gained more weight. But what if he hasn’t? Can I really do this?
I think a lot of our questions boil down to one big one.
Can I really do this mom thing?
I found myself asking that over and over when we first got home. Even now I ask myself that. Sometimes I add in this question: why did I ever think I could do this? Yes. I question myself so much.
But that’s where the mom guilt comes into play, too. Mom guilt is that guilt you feel when something goes wrong with your child, when you realize other people don’t parent the way you do, when someone criticizes your decisions as a parent. Mom guilt can be logical or illogical, but it ties into our emotions, which can be very much ruled by hormones, especially in those first weeks and months after delivery.
Let’s talk a minute about those three types of mom guilt, shall we?
The Three Kinds of Mom Guilt
My Child Has A Problem.
This guilt comes on the moment you realize there’s a problem with your child. When they’re babies, that’s usually a health problem. This guilt may be the worst one out there because it has a concrete basis: your child is sick, injured, or disabled. As a mom, you feel like this must have something to do with you. You blame yourself and hear blame in things others say, whether it’s intended or not.
A great example of this is when Emmeric was hospitalized. The doctor told me, “You aren’t feeding your baby. You have no milk.” I have no idea if he intended to lay blame at my door, but I ran with it. I blamed myself for starving my child, and that mom guilt gutted me.
Other People Parent Differently.
This type of guilt might be instigated by posts shared by friends online, comments in mom groups, or visiting a friend’s home. You see people parenting, and suddenly you compare yourself to them. This person practices attachment parenting, that person is a helicopter parent. Your cousin wore her baby everywhere for his first three years of life. The lady down the street from you goes jogging with her child in a jogging stroller and looks fantastic doing it. This mom breastfeeds, but that mom bottle feeds.
Can I just say that there are as many different styles of parenting as there are parents? It is so easy to get overwhelmed here when you read articles, go to blogs, visit other families, and see things posted in mom groups. This kind of mom guilt should not grab us, but it does! We compare ourselves to others and question whether we’re giving our child enough love, affection, attention, food, stimulation, sleep, hugs, whatever! Or we question if we’re giving them too much! And the guilt just creeps in.
Someone Criticized My Parenting Choices.
This guilt might be the most sinister because when we get criticized, we tend to think the worst of ourselves. I notice this happens a lot online. Sure, you might have a family member who disagrees with a decision or style of parenting you chose, and we all have family members who are loud and obnoxious about their beliefs. Friends might confront us with a decision we’ve made or make backhanded compliments about what they did differently. Online is a totally different ballgame.
I honestly believe some of us (I’m talking to myself here) give people too much power online. I find myself going to different parenting groups on Facebook and seeing how people respond to questions and comments. And I posted a few questions in some groups that I trust only to be told all the things I’m doing wrong.
Maybe You Relate?
Mom guilt makes us a little crazy. We question ourselves, wonder if people are judging us, and hope our child will forgive us for our mistakes. And if that’s not bad enough, we sometimes wonder if we can even do this mom thing or if we’re failing at it.
My friend, I hope you stay with me because on Friday I have some encouragement for you. Mom guilt does not have to rule your life. I plan to share more about why I thoroughly believe we need to stop guilt-tripping ourselves and learn to let go.
I make mistakes. My child gets sick or hurt. I parent in my own way. But that does not make me a bad mom. I know I’m talking to myself here when I say that I need to embrace being a mom rather than hold onto my mom guilt. How about you? Let me know what you think in the comments!