I have a confession to make. Several, actually. My 4-year-old wore shorts to daycare ALL winter long, even in the 40 below in January weather. I have always wanted a challenging and fulfilling career and can’t imagine not working. My kids spend way too much time in front of the TV or their tablets while I’m doing homework. I am not always the wife I feel my husband deserves because I am impatient and do not always express appreciation for the help he provides. Being on time to any outing is a struggle and I hardly ever (who am I kidding … I never) do readings before class. And the list goes on and on and on …
Given my strong Lutheran roots, guilt has always come very naturally to me and I have the ability to feel guilty about any and everything. When my daughter was born 7 years ago, I suddenly became familiar with a new type of guilt – “mom guilt.” This was a much stronger type of guilt than I had ever encountered before because I was suddenly responsible for a new little life and it seemed as if every single decision I made potentially impacted her future success in a big way. We’ve all been there – “mom guilt” starts the minute we find out we’re going to be a mom. It’s as inevitable as the all-nighters, the messy houses, and the ridiculous arguments with our kids and our spouses. I never imagined marital bliss as arguments about who gets more naps, free time, or who does more household chores!
Despite the petty disagreements, my husband is the one who keeps my “mom guilt” in check and this is one of the many reasons why I love him. He is one of those people who does what he believes is right and doesn’t worry about what other people think. I, on the other hand, have always cared way too much about what other people think and have let this hold me back in most areas of my life. Caring about what other people think significantly contributes to anxiety and decreases your happiness and satisfaction with your life. This is one of the keys to ridding yourself of “mom guilt.” Once you start focusing on your family and making the decisions which you feel are in their best interest and stop worrying about what everyone else thinks or is doing, “mom guilt” starts to loosen its grip.
In today’s world, putting your blinders on and focusing on yourself is tougher than it was in previous generations. Don’t get me wrong, we have access to some pretty awesome resources today that we never had before and the ability to become more informed about topics ranging from the zika virus to potty training your toddler is incredible. The downside to all this awesomeness, however, is constant reminders about what we could or should do. These reminders come in the form of social media and “mom guilt” creeps in quickly if we don’t have awareness of our mindset and the ways different influences can either build us up or break us down.
One example of this in my own life is time. Pursuing a graduate degree and working full-time leaves little of it left for my family right now. Therefore, when I’m scrolling social media and see images of my friends taking their kids on vacations or to other different outings, “mom guilt” kicks into full gear and leaves me feeling like I have somehow failed my kids. Another example is picture taking. I am a decorative minimalist and we have only taken a few family pictures over the past few years so every time I see my friends’ pictures posted, I also feel like I have failed mom 101. This is where my hubby steps in and sets me straight. He reminds me that this is just a season of our life, it will pass, and I will (finally!) be finished with school in a short time. Things will not always be this way and we are doing the absolute best that we can with our kids. (Also, the number of pictures we take of our kids in no way guarantees their future success.)
He reminds me that parents are people and screw up sometimes. Our parents certainly weren’t perfect and we each have our own rough edges but those edges helped to mold us into who we are today. My resilience, persistence, and love for figuring things out independently came directly from my parents’ own imperfections and I’m positive that my children will develop their own valuable qualities based upon our imperfections. A perfectionist personality definitely has a tendency to worsen “mom guilt” so sometimes a simple reminder that no one is perfect means everything. At the end of the day, our kids are happy, healthy, rambunctious, and intelligent so we must be doing something right!
Finding someone who can give you a dose of reality when you’re feeling low is vital to combatting “mom guilt.” It’s so easy to build something into epic proportions in your own mind and pretty soon you feel like you’re the worst mom in the world. Confide in someone you trust about your thoughts and feelings because 9 times out of 10, they will tell you that you’ve overblown the situation and you’re actually a pretty great mom. Find people and resources which build you up as a mom instead of making you feel worse. If you always feel guilty after listening to a certain podcast or reading a certain blog, stop following them! As long as you are doing your utmost to ensure your kids are happy, healthy, and well-adjusted, you’re rocking it as a mom! Remember that everyone’s journey is different – some moms stay at home and others work part or full time. Some moms strive for a fulfilling career outside the home while others run fulfilling businesses from their home but what we all have in common is a sincere love for our families and a desire to do what’s in their best interest.
In my perfect world, my kids would wear exactly what I picked out everyday without argument (and it wouldn’t be shorts in mid-winter Wisconsin!), I would always remember to bring their snow gear to school, and my house would always be spotless. My husband is the one who reminds me that this is not reality and that we will screw up and have an insanely messy house and argue sometimes but we will make it and our kids will be successful. All moms need a boost of confidence once in awhile because being a mom is hard work and there can be a constant and nagging self-doubt. Surround yourself with the people who build you up as a parent and don’t worry about the ones who tear you down because in your heart, you know that you are doing the best you can and that you love your kids with all your heart! Take a deep breath, smile, and realize that there are other moms out there just like you who have struggles much like yours and won’t judge you but will laugh and cry with you and tell you what an amazing job you’re doing! Time to kick the “mom guilt” to the curb because you’re rocking it! 🙂