I’ve been a mom for a little over three years now, and if there is one thing that has stayed consistent throughout this whole time, it is that endless little twinge that lies deep down and makes me think that I could be doing more.
I’m talking about mom guilt; it’s real and it’s something that all moms feel (even the ones that say they don’t). This is because some of us feel it more than others, but it doesn’t matter if we have one kid or ten, or if we have an army of friends and family helping us or we’re doing it solo; there’s always some small voice deep inside making us question if we’re good enough.
I felt guilty a lot when I was a new mom. I would lose my patience and yell, I would be too exhausted to play, or sometimes, I would even wish I was anywhere but home with my family. These feelings instantly made me feel a tremendous amount of guilt, which in turn made me feel even more stressed out and anxious about being a mom.
I knew that feeling guilty wasn’t accomplishing anything; I mean, as busy moms we’re already juggling a ton of different tasks, right? So, why add guilt to the mix? Still, I couldn’t help feeling it. As moms, there’s always that small voice that makes us question ourselves, but how do we respond to it?
I started to think about things from a different perspective, and came up with five reasons to ditch the guilt and simply enjoy being a mom:
- It IS About You -- Let me ask you a quick question. Pre-motherhood, would you have felt guilty about wanting to get a haircut or take a shower? Probably not. But as soon as we become moms, we agonize over wanting to have just five minutes to ourselves. We think that we are being selfish, we hear the people that say things like, “Well, it’s all about them now.” Of course, you love your kids, but guess what? You STILL MATTER, Mom! As hard as it is to put you first, start small, with a few minutes a day devoted just to you. Enjoy listening to your favorite band's song, sip on a cup of hot tea, or let yourself relax with one of the amazing MamaZen sessions that are designed to increase self-love and self-acceptance.
- What You See Is Not Always What You Get -- A lot of our guilt as moms come from seeing other moms and falling into the comparison trap. We wonder why we can’t make that amazing batch of cupcakes that so-and-so shared on Pinterest, or why we didn’t think of that incredible at-home learning activity other moms posted all over Facebook. Think of social media as a trailer for a movie, you’re going to see the best shots and the most exciting times; the frazzled moments, frustrating situations, and yelling matches that are inevitably taking place are not moments that people share with the world.
- Where’s You Village? -- Unfortunately, there are a lot of moms out there doing the whole mom thing on their own, but even if you have a lot of helping hands, you probably still have many times where you feel completely alone. Motherhood can be one of the loneliest jobs on the planet. The thing is, in many countries, it literally takes the whole village to help raise children. Take some comfort in the fact that you were not meant to do this alone, so it’s understandable when you get strung out and frustrated and feel utterly exhausted.
- Mistakes are Inevitable -- This one is simple, mistakes WILL happen. Don’t pursue perfection, it doesn’t exist. Don’t beat yourself up when you miss an appointment, or you forget to pack lunch; you are amazing and you’re handling a number of different jobs at one time. When you expect mistakes to happen, you’re less likely to agonize over them when they do.
- Kids Are Forgiving -- Your kids love you and in the grand scheme of things they see all of the things you do (even if you don’t). If you’re there for your kids when they need you, but then sneak off to take a five-minute shower, your children are not going to be traumatized for life. If you can’t afford the latest, greatest tech gadget, you really haven’t ruined your teen’s life, despite what he might say at the moment.
It’s natural that you want to do what is best for your family. Well, guess what? Many times, doing what is best for your family, means doing what is best for you. So, ditch the guilt; it just gets in the way. You’re only human, no matter what other people may expect of you (i.e., the whole image of a super mom). Embrace your humanity with all of its wonderful limitations. We all want to do our best, but it’s okay if some days our best is simply doing whatever it takes to make it through the day.