It seems like every new mom I’ve talked to in the last month has dropped the term “mom guilt” into conversation like it’s no big deal. It doesn’t end there. When I tell them about something that divides my attention, they throw “mom guilt” on me too. I tense up every time. I truly dislike the word “guilt”. It implies that I did something wrong. I cannot believe that me or any of these mom’s did wrong. Being a mom is one of the world’s greatest gifts, so why does everyone think that when your child is born, it comes with a healthy dose of mom guilt?
I’d like to say that I’ve been super busy since baby Colt was born in July, but really, I’ve been super busy my whole life. I’m not complaining, it’s my nature and my choice. Busy seems to be the norm in North America. We’re all torn between commitments and have overloaded schedules, even if you aren’t a mom. All the mom guilt I hear about centers around time. We feel guilty because we are taking time to do something other than tend to our kids… but is that really necessary?
The last time I was accused of mom guilt was when I was talking to someone about Rachelle being with Baba and Gido when I was at a pop-up market for the day. I told the mom that I wasn’t with her with a bit of a sad look on my face. She looked at me with the same sad face and said, “I know. I’m feeling the mom guilt too”. The accusation was just slipped into part of our conversation. I didn’t correct her because I didn’t want to make her feel any worse than she was feeling, but I didn’t feel the same guilt that she did.
The last time I truly felt “mom guilt” was when I was reflecting on the things other mom’s do with their wee ones. I’ve only ever gone to one library story time, I’ve never taken either of them to a music class, I pulled Rachelle out of swimming because it was too much to juggle in our schedule, yet at the same time, I dragged her along with me to private yoga sessions, fitness classes and loads of markets. Colt’s future is looking much the same. This is the mom guilt most people talk about and yes I feel something.
When I left Rachelle with the grandparents to do a pop-up, I wasn’t feeling mom guilt, I was feeling sad that I was missing out on her. I was missing her impromptu song and dance, her funny sayings and her “serious look” when I say, “no more rice cakes.” I knew she was having a great time being the center of attention over there. When I think about all the activities and lessons that I don’t take my little ones to, I try to remind myself what they are getting instead. They are getting a mom that can take them to work (how cool is that) and they are finding new experiences handing shopping bags to you guys! So I feel that they are missing out on a norm, but I also see what they are gaining from my choices.
Slapping yourself in the face with a guilty verdict takes a toll on your self worth. This doesn’t just go for mom guilt, this goes for girlfriend guilt, friend guilt, husband guilt and any other guilts that you impose on yourself. When you hear your head telling you that you are guilty, stop in the moment. Take a deep breath. What is really behind that feeling? Are you missing someone, are you missing out on something, or do you feel like you aren’t giving enough? Chances are these feelings are coming from you and your loved ones can see your reasons why better than you can. Your reason for your choice is always valid. I skip “kid” lessons and drag my kids to markets because thats what puts food on our table, that’s what allows me to spend time with them and in between, I get the opportunity to laugh, tell stories and bond with them.
My memories are going to be different than yours and that’s life. When you start comparing how you are spending your time to how others are spending their time, a space is created for judgment. It’s within judgement that guilt lies. We are our own worst critics and so quick to slap the guilty verdict on ourselves when we would never dream of throwing that label onto someone else. Take that space away and focus on the true reason why you’ve made your choice. When you sit with this, you may still feel a bit bad or sad, but you likely won’t feel guilty. You’ll realize that you’ve made your choice for a good reason. You’ve chosen your time wisely so that everyone can experience the best outcome, even if this means taking a day to go shopping and get a pedicure.
If you care enough to put this label on yourself, you’re probably doing everything right for you, your child and your family. Mom guilt is a sign that you are allowing yourself to take a bit of a hit so that your kids have the best. Stop the guilt. Take good care of yourself and make time for you. The happier you are, the happier everyone around you is too.
Your kids are lucky to have you in their life, exactly as you are.