Healthy Living,  Marriage,  Personal Development

Confessions of a Mom

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!  🙂

4 Comments

  • Marianne Daw

    When I became an early childhood teacher, well after my children were grown, I learned all about not “sweating the small stuff.” You learn about something called “natural consequences” and that children learn themselves so many things that you just can’t teach. First of all shorts all winter are the least of a parent’s problems and show the world that you certainly have prioritized the right things. When a child wears shorts and if and when he gets cold in them, he gets the opportunity to change his mind. It is important to let children learn things themselves. Some day you will all remember and laugh about this with him. That strong-mindness-ness may be the thing that keeps him from “going along with the crowd,” in much more important circumstances as he grows to a young man. You are really showing him respect and the opportunity to make decisions at a very young age. There is no law or Bible commandment that says, “Thou shalt not wear shorts in the winter.” I was so happy when you made the decision to let him wear what he wanted. Shorts have nothing to do with learning other than in the area of “natural consequences,” and someday in the future that information will serve him well. I was so busy when my kids were little and made battles our of stupid things as I look back, all pressured by what people would think of me as a mother. There were times my house was immaculately clean and tidy and other times it looked like someone turned our house upside down and shook it. I always pictured people that may have visited my home talking to each other with one saying how lovely and tidy my home was and the other one wondering what in the world she could be talking about! My mom seemed to be able to do it all, I just couldn’t. I spent too many all-nighters during my life and it has taken a toll on my health today. Could I have gone to school, worked, been a loving wife and loving involved mother and still become a special ed teacher? I’ll never know, but those things were all important at the time. It doesn’t appear my girls or husband suffered for it, in fact they were all very supportive, but what do I know fir sure? During those busy times, regardless of how my home looked, how tired I got, we lived by the principles my parents instilled in me. They knew how much I loved them, how much helping the world be a better place was important, and kindness and helping others were the most important things they saw modeled around them. So what that Sara’s room was knee-deep in books, clothes, videos, you name it, it wasn’t me that had to climb over all of it to go to bed. If I didn’t want to see it all I had to do was shut the door. I find myself in overwhelming situations right now, dealing with the loss of my Mother, the house looking like it was turned upside down and someone shook it, and a million other little things that add up to a big thing. (Plus we have been passing the stomach flu around the family!) I know I need to prioritize and quit procrastinating, even a couple of tasks a day would help. I love your blog and it is helping me so much. I didn’t mean to editorialize with my comments, just wanted to share what’s in my heart and mind right now. Grief is probably the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. When Dad died we had Mother to take care of and worry about so our grief was there but not paralyzing. Day by day my grief seems to consume so much of me I don’t accomplish much, thank God I have a husband that supports me and understands my sorrow. Once again, your thoughts are spot on. Don’t sweat the small stuff, appreciate your gifts and talents and that you are surrounded by children and a husband that love you to the moon and back, or as Jahn told me once, “to infinity.”

    • Amanda Bradley

      Hi Marianne,

      I can’t begin to express how much your response meant to me! Thank you so much for helping to put things in perspective. I think sometimes when we are in the moment, it’s overwhelming and we have so much on our plates but we have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. It’s only after we take a moment, breathe, or even pass out of that stage of our lives that we are able to reflect back and see what was truly important. You really nailed it in that regardless of how messy our houses are or how chaotic things get, at the end of the day if our kids know how much we love them and live out the values we instill in them, then we have succeeded as parents! All that other stuff really doesn’t matter. Despite the busyness of our lives, we are showing our kids to fight for what they believe in and to go after their dreams and that hard work pays off. These are valuable lessons that can be tough to demonstrate, except by example. I am also very thankful for a supportive husband who always tries his best as I could not do this without him! He is truly a gift from God! Thanks again for your thoughtful and insightful comment. I’m so happy you enjoy my writing and I want to share what I have learned and am learning with others.

  • Jessica Day

    Amanda, what a heartfelt and sincere post that definitely got home for me! I think we can be our biggest motivators and our worse enemy! Keeping perspective and Balance is the key to our sanity, yet not that easy to do! Thanks for the good read!

    • Amanda Bradley

      Hey Jessica! Thank you so much!! As moms, we are so hard on ourselves so I love putting motivational stuff out there to hopefully help others with their struggles! 🙂

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