Mom Guilt: The Biggest Lie Of All
I learned early on in the NICU that every moment, no matter how unpleasant, is a precious milestone in her life, OUR life that cannot be recaptured. But somewhere along the way, I allowed what we call “mom guilt” to slip in and divert my attention from those precious milestones. If I’m honest, the guilt began before she even arrived. But its only intensified as the days, weeks, months and now 2 years have gone by. Having an autoimmune disease like Lupus was my initial source of mom guilt. Autoimmune diseases are tricky in that they cause your body to fight what it shouldn’t and meanwhile allow the REAL enemies to make their way in. Its much like mom guilt: we focus so much time criticizing ourselves that we fail to focus on the amazing moments with our children that we will NEVER get back. But let’s back up a second and dissect “mom guilt”.
What IS "mom guilt"?
It’s that nagging, pervasive feeling of not doing enough as a parent, that you’re not doing things right, that you’re making decisions that might “mess up” your kids in the long run or that you’re just not as good as that mom who’s picture you obsessed over on Instagram the other day. Now that we’ve defined what mom guilt is, let’s talk about what it is NOT. Mom guilt is NOT helpful to your children, spouse and home at large. Mom guilt is NOT helpful to your personal growth as research has shown that guilty feelings alone aren’t enough to reform our future behavior. And lastly, mom guilt is NOT a redemptive quality. I know many of us have been told that mom guilt is healthy and that the more of it you have the more you must want to be better for you children. But I just wanted to share with another mom like me, who has allowed too much time to be robbed from them, that mom guilt is a SHAM!
It’s the biggest lie implanted in the heartbeat of society—MOMS!
By now I’m sure you’re asking, “how do we rid ourselves of it?” I am learning the answer to this myself. But I think it begins with exonerating ourselves. We won't always know all of the answers. We won’t always make the best decisions. We won’t always be able to predict the outcome of our choices. But we can be open and honest about the challenges of new parenthood, to include the never-ending, often unsolicited advice from everyone around us and the recommendations of those views we value highly (i.e. parents, doctors, trusted organizations, etc). But there’s another question that many may not feel comfortable even asking: “Can mom guilt actually be useful?” And to that, my answer is YES! I do think that a tiny dose of mom guilt can birth productivity. For instance, if you start feeling bad because your child is watching TV all day after seeing posts by other parents talking about the downside of screen time than perhaps you can use that to modify your daily activity. It’s when you let it start eating away at your esteem and shame starts causing you to second guess decisions that you once stood firm on (to mirror what you’ve seen) that there’s an issue. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with that mom sharing her opinion on social media just as there’s nothing wrong with you making decisions that work for your home. Simply put, when it comes to mom guilt we should “Eat the meat and throw away the bone” as our elders once taught.
So what is it that we are feeling guilty about and how can we fix it? Feel free to list your reasons below in the comments.
To be continued....