© 2014 Lauren Cormier, as first published on Scary Mommy
Mom guilt. Before I had kids, it was just a phrase to roll my eyes at. After I had kids, it became a living entity with the ability to eat me alive if I wasn’t careful.
Why I’m Embracing My Mom Guilt
Before I had kids, I’d feel guilty about something every once in a while. Since I’ve had kids I haven’t stopped feeling guilty…
I didn’t spend enough time playing with the kids.
I didn’t get the house clean because I was playing with the kids.
I cleaned the house and now I won’t let the kids play because they’ll mess it up.
I didn’t bring them outside to play and it’s beautiful out.
I brought them outside to play and now they have bug bites.
I read with my oldest much more often than I read with the younger two.
I’m not strict enough.
I’m too strict.
I let them eat candy.
I don’t let them eat candy.
I hide candy from them so I can eat it. (Okay, I don’t actually feel guilty about this one; I feel like an evil mastermind.)
I don’t plan educational activities for the kids to do on a daily basis.
Who am I kidding? I don’t plan educational activities for the kids to do ever.
I didn’t breastfeed long enough.
My pregnancy diet is probably to blame for my middle child’s food allergies.
I let them watch too much TV.
Sometimes I use the TV as a babysitter.
I went shopping without them, even though they were crying at the door to come with me.
I should be happy all the time because I get to stay home with my kids and other moms would kill to be in my situation.
I yell too much.
Anything can turn into a reason to feel guilty.
End the mommy guilt, most people would say, it’s certainly not helpful or productive. But the problem is, getting rid of guilt as a mother is next to impossible. So, instead, I’m going to embrace it.
The way I see it, if I never experience mommy guilt, one of two things has occurred:
1. I’ve attained perfection (and I know that’s not the case!)
2. I’ve stopped caring (and I pray that’s not ever the case!)
So instead I’m choosing to embrace the guilt because doing so allows me to do two things:
1. To accept that I’m not perfect
Oh, I try to be. Or I at least try to give the impression that I am. But I’m not. And when I accept that I’m not, I can get on with the important business of loving my kids as an imperfect mom. Which means I can teach them at an early age not to expect perfection from imperfect people, including themselves. And I can model for them how to make amends when that imperfection leads to hurt, as it inevitably will.
2. To realize that I care
If I didn’t care, I would have nothing to feel guilty about. The fact that I foolishly feel guilt over anything and everything proves that I really want to do what’s best for my kids. That realization alone allows me to breathe a big sigh of relief.
So the next time mommy guilt creeps up behind me, ready to take a bite, I’m going to turn around to face it. I’ll give it a hug and thank it for reminding me just how much I love my kids. I’ll promise to do one thing (or stopping doing one thing) that I’ve been feeling guilty over. And then I’ll tell it to take a hike.
Because I know it’ll be nibbling on my shoulder again before I’ve even turned around.
I know! i feel guilty ALL THE TIME! Especially weeks like this where I have to work outside the home 3 consecutive days. It’s hard, but so important to let it go!
We’re so hard on ourselves!
Christine Walker says
YES!! This is so important, and so well written. Motherhood is emotionally deadly without accepting your limitations, right? I’ll be sharing this beautiful post 🙂
Thanks so much Christine!
I love this, Lauren. Much needed encouragement for me at the moment!
Thanks Jen 🙂
Jill Robbins says
I battle with guilt. I tell myself I refuse to be guilty and most of the time that works for me…but sometimes it sneaks in there. You’re right – it does show you care.
It’s hard, isn’t it? Even when we know it’s ridiculous, it’s still there.