Of all the baggage that motherhood came with, “mom guilt” has to be the worst. As moms we endure the weight of the world on our shoulders. We are always trying to make sure that our children grow up healthy, happy, and safe. Now this sounds simple and basic enough, right? I mean it should be. That is until that stupid little voice in our head gets going.
I never expected to feel like I am never doing enough as a mom as I do some days. I mean don’t get me wrong there are days that I am down-right winning at the mom game. But so many days I beat myself up for falling short and experience some form of mom guilt daily.
Even before I became a mom, I knew I wanted to be that mom that was home with her kids playing, doing activities, and crafts. I wanted to have the perfect looking house with all the home cooked meals. You can all laugh with me right now. The naïve, childless version of myself did not know what I was in for. In turn this picture I painted for myself has been my kryptonite. “How can I do it all and be it all?” Is the question I ask myself constantly.
The days when I get it right are the days I am most fulfilled and guilt free. But those days happen once or twice a week if I am lucky. I could clean the entire house and feel so good that it’s clean but feel terrible as a mom because I did not do enough with my kid that day. The balancing act to keep the guilt at bay is endless.
Mom voice guilt
We all know we love our kids to the moon and back. We love them in that borderline unhealthy, want to kiss them and squeeze them until they push us away kind of love. Most days that overwhelming feeling of love is all we have for them. That is until our dearest child decides to be on a roll of misbehaving all day. While we still feel love, our love guides us to take care of the bad behaviors, so we raise well-behaved children. My daughter tests this one regularly by trying to do something she knows she’s not supposed to do all the while smiling at me (to be honest her devious wit is going to be the death of me one of these days). During these times, sometimes the only thing I can do to get her attention and to stop the behavior is to use my mom voice. Almost immediately I am shrouded in guilt that tugs on every last piece of my heart for even having to use my mom voice with her. God, forbid she starts crying because that feeds my guilt more, and breaks my heart in two. I know it is the right thing to do but damn, the guilt sometimes is overwhelming.
Mom shame guilt
This one is every mom’s worst enemy at some point or another. It’s everywhere and we all tend to do it to one another whether we intend to or not. You can find mom shaming in groups online. A mom can simply share something about her child in a group. Next thing you know there are 10 other moms jumping in to say how they would have done it differently, or they can’t believe that she does it that way. It can even be present in our very own circles. While most times it is unintentional it can come with something as simple as a question like: “Why don’t you breastfeed? Breastmilk is better than formula for the baby.” I have felt this a lot with Covid because my husband and myself have chosen to limit the things my daughter does. I get a lot of opposition from other mothers I know who think that I am harming my daughter’s development by not allowing her to interact with others all the time. While they don’t intend to be hurtful these opinions tend to come off shameful and I have experienced a lot of guilt over this. We even tend to shame ourselves sometimes by comparing ourselves to other mothers and what they do for their kids and where we fall short. A lot of times we don’t know the full story of what goes on behind closed doors with these moms. Most times we only see the Instagram stories or the portions of their lives they let us see, but not their true lives. The mom shaming can lead us to feel guilty about the things we do for our kids. Mom shaming is a not so classy thing we do to one another. It ultimately adds onto another mom’s current load of mom guilt that could otherwise be lightened with a little bit of empathy toward one another.
Covid mom guilt
This one is a tough one and I find myself struggling with it the most. My daughter was born at the beginning of a pandemic and needless to say there were a lot of things that she missed out on, and we were not able to do with her for so long. My husband and I have felt so frustrated that our daughter couldn’t have come when things were more normal.
With vaccinations under our belt, and everything beginning to open this summer we took our daughter on a lot of outings and treat days. We wanted to provide our daughter with all the experiences she missed out on. We have even found ourselves overcompensating with gifts. Even though she is so little, and hopefully will not remember it, it does not change the fact that we hoped for more. We can’t help but have the sadness and guilt that she deserved to be born into a time where she could have more experiences and more interactions with people than she’s gotten up to this point.
Overcoming mom guilt
In a perfect world, it would be great to say that we should let go of all the things that make us feel guilty as mom’s and embrace the imperfection. Some days the mom guilt beats me down and I do let it get the best of me. While I don’t think I will ever overcome the mom guilt, I also know that it comes from a place of wanting the best for my daughter. In a way the guilt gives me drive, pushing me to be a better mom all the time. The guilt guides me to set a different example for my daughter. To teach her to have confidence in all that she does, to be understanding of other people, and be one fierce woman.