Mom Guilt

Ugh.

In a nutshell, that’s how I feel about it. It’s simply the worst. It’s self-defeating and soul destroying. I have been around it. I’ve supported moms that were deep in the midst of it. I find it difficult to find some positive in it. I knew it. I read about it, heard about it, and learned about it. However, nothing prepares you for it until you’ve actually experienced it yourself.  

What is it? 

It’s Mom Guilt. 

Ugh.

To those that have never experienced it, please tell me your secret. It’s a battle, an internal battle. Logic gets flushed down the toilet so there is more room in your brain for the battle to commence. You know the facts; you know the details. You can argue both sides of the case, but guilt comes along and destroys everything. No matter how many times you research a topic or are reassured by a loved one or medical provider, you will still have that internal battle. 

I wish that I could offer solid advice to make that guilt go away, but I can’t. All I can do is listen, empathize, and validate until you are able to come to terms with it yourself and find a way to silence those doubtful and debilitating thoughts. 

Repeat this to yourself: No one is perfect. No parent is perfect. No child is perfect. We are all doing the best we can. 

It’s true that when we know better, we do better, but you simply cannot be everything to everyone all the time.  

There will be times that you have to give more to one child than another. There will be times that you’ll think that you’re neglecting your other child/ren. You may think that your spouse is being neglected too. Hopefully, after a heartfelt conversation with good communication and listening on both ends, they’ll get it.  

Again: you cannot be everything to everyone all at the same time.  

Taking care of yourself is not a luxury, it is a necessity. As much as I’m saying this all to you, I’m also writing it down as a reminder to myself. Make that appointment with yourself, whether it’s an extra five minutes in the shower, reading a magazine, or taking a few days away for yourself. My personal mantra is:  Do what you can, when you can, to do what it takes to feel less guilty and take care of you

Do what you can, to step aside and think clearly. Do what you can to come to terms and accept that if you’re feeling guilty, it shows your dedication, it shows your high standards, and it shows that you want to do it right. 

Go easy on yourself Mama.  

Pet Peeve Number One

For my first blog post, I’m going to get straight to the point with my Number One Pet Peeve. 

Please, oh please, stop telling mothers to “Enjoy every minute because it goes by so fast.” 

I know that when friends, family, or even random people on the internet say it to a mom, they are coming from a place of well-meaning and good intent. I get it. However, it can cause a mom to feel guilty and subsequently cause her to question her ability to be a good mom.  

We have all had those moments. You know what I’m talking about…  when we’ve said something to someone and moments later hoped that they didn’t hear it or hoped that they didn’t take it the way we said it. If only the ground would please open up and swallow us! Yes, those moments. I know I have.  

Even to… especially to… new moms.  

You see, I have a soft spot for new moms, I want to protect them. I’ve had the great honor of being around enough new moms to know that they can be incredibly vulnerable, sensitive, overwhelmed, emotional, and overjoyed all within 10 minutes. Those feelings are even more intense at 3am. I also have a soft spot for veteran moms, heck they can have all those feelings multiplied by the amount of children that they have. How can two siblings that came from the same DNA possibly be so different? How can one child be so easy going and the other, not so much?! 

I’ve had those moments of looking at my own child and wondering “Where is this child’s mother?” “Why won’t someone just take him for a moment so I can get a break?!”

This well meaning gesture can actually do more damage than good. I’ll come right out and say it. Some moments are simply awful. Some are scary, some are painful, some are never ending and some are really lonely. It’s okay to not enjoy every minute. It’s okay to just want a minute of alone time.  

A long time ago, I read a book where the author was discussing gas and digestive issues for babies. For the life of me, I can’t remember the book, but I do remember one thing that really resonated with me. She explained that the reason babies start to show signs of discomfort and their crying starts to increase at approximately three weeks, is basically a survival technique for the human race. By the third week of our baby’s life, we’re completely smitten and head over heels in love for this little bundle. We’d do anything for them. However, if we were given this screaming, purple and angry baby right away in the hospital, surely we’d question if we were given the right baby and consider giving them back, right?!

Each age and stage comes with new milestones, celebrations, and challenges. It is so satisfying to overcome a hurdle. Yet, it always seems as soon as we find ourselves getting into a groove and figuring these little people out, they go and change on us again! It’s okay to miss a stage that’s gone by just as much as it’s okay to look forward to an age/stage in the future. It’s ok to not like the current stage! 

It’s okay to wonder Why on earth is this little person still not sleeping? How can it be humanly possible for a little one to stay awake for such a long time? 

It’s okay for you to wish for them to just please settle down so you can exhale. 

And… It’s okay that after they finally settle, you miss them.  

-Joan