We all know what it is, we know it is irrational, we know we can get rid of it and yet the best of us have fallen prey to it. Yup, it is the MOMMY GUILT. It is known to strike where ever, when ever and whom so ever it wants- the only criteria being that you be a MOM.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a mom-to-be, new mom, working mom, a stay-at-home mom or a part-time working mom, you can still get afflicted with Mommy guilt. In that sense mommy guilt is an equal opportunity condition.
As you know I am a Stay-at-home Mom, I left my career for motherhood and never regret it for one second. I know that I put every single ounce of my being into raising the child I brought into this world, in the best way I can. But still I get severe bouts of Mommy guilt-there are so many forms of it-the guilt of not contributing financially to the family, the guilt of not being a domestic goddess, the guilt of sometimes taking the easy way out in parenting and mostly the guilt of wanting some time all for myself.
During my most recent episode of feeling the Mommy guilt, I started thinking about the ways to banish this monster out of my life. I was able to narrow it down to a few which I hope would be able to help me and my fellow mommies in our independence struggle against the guilt trip.
The Grass is not always greener on the other side
It begins when you conceive and then goes on till the end of the time. The Comparisons. “How much weight did you gain during pregnancy?” “Did you have a normal delivery or C-section?” “Your son has not started walking yet?” (Gasp*Shock*Horror), “my daughter started drinking from a cup when she was seven months old” and so on and so forth. Each comparison brings with it many guilt complexes, you are not eating as well as you should, you are not exercising as much as you should, your child isn’t meeting his/her milestones as they should.
STOP it now. You are unique and so is your child. Comparing yourself to others will be a trap of your own making. Instead be what you are and encourage your child’s uniqueness. An acquaintance who is constantly trying to “Keep up with the Joneses”, is always pushing her children into every activity, hobby, tuition class there is and when the kids fail to excel at all of them she berates herself. It is a vicious cycle in which not only she but her kids will also fall into the guilt trap.
Never compare yourself to anyone because when you start comparing you start insulting yourself.
Ever since I started blogging, I started reading other blogs too. A lot of them are written by moms. Some of these moms are doing it all -being a domestic diva, homeschooling more than 3 kids, making their produce organically, doing crafts with kids daily, managing a tight budget, teaching five languages, removing television from their lives, producing lip smacking dishes, working from home and still looking gorgeous at the end of it.
I would always wind up feeling seriously inadequate and definitely not the best mother in the world. I would keep reveling in my shortcomings and kept wondering if I would ever have it all. The truth is No. You can’t have it all and I am sure even these seemingly perfect moms have their own case of nagging guilt. You may not be perfect but you sure as hell can be a pretty great version of yourself. Work on the areas where you feel improvement is necessary and if you make mistakes own up to them. Remember, life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.
Ignore the bullies
Bullies in mommyland? Oh yes!!! They are omnipresent. The mom in the park who looks disapprovingly when you give a chocolate to your child, the skinny mom in the mall who gives you a once-over when you are happily walking with a mummy-tummy and the mom who had a normal delivery smirking to hear that you had a C-section (even if it was medically required).
The world has enough people who will judge you and let you know that you are not good enough. Don’t add yourself to that list by being hard on yourself. A friend of mine wasn’t able to breastfeed her son because of some medical complication and she felt so guilty about it. We were chatting about it and I told her that it doesn’t matter whether you breastfeed a child or bottlefeed him. If you are doing it with love, the child will feel that love and will be nurtured nevertheless. She felt so much relief from those words and confessed that almost everyone had made her feel as less of a mother while stressing the benefits of breast milk.
Don’t let anyone pull you down. There is a reason why god chose you to be the mother of your child and god doesn’t make mistakes.
You are not your child
Even though you might feel so, your child and you are not one being. She has her own personality, thoughts and actions. We might impart all our wisdom to them and yet they might go on and do something which is utterly irresponsible and unexpected. You can not hold yourself responsible for every mistake your child makes. They will make their own mistakes, learn their own lessons and develop their own personality. All you can do is give them gentle guidance and try to be a good role model.
My niece when younger would hit my infant daughter at every chance she could get. This was not something her parents had taught her but something she did out of her toddler instincts of jealousy & attention seeking. You can tell you child right from wrong but you cannot always control their actions.
You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection ~ Buddha
Once you are a mom self-love goes out of the window and self-sacrifice is the slogan of the day. Don’t get me wrong, parents definitely need to put our child’s needs before us but moms usually take it one step further and forget all about themselves.
I felt this for the first time when I left my then seven month old daughter with my parents to go for a movie and dinner date with my husband. Mind you, this was my first outing without my baby in seven months during which I was 24×7 with my daughter, constantly attending to her needs, feeling like a zombie and handling the house & the baby almost singlehandedly. But was I able to enjoy the movie or the dinner? No, I was checking my watch waiting for the movie to get over, literally gobbled up my dinner and made my hubby race to the house. The daughter of course was perfectly cooing and playing with her grandparents but I was still feeling guilty of leaving her.
Over time I have realized that it is okay to want some time for myself and that I become a better mom when I get some me-time. As soon I asserted this to myself things fell in place and I was able to carve out some alone time without feeling any guilt.
Guilt is good as long as it is justified, keeps you in check and on the right path but if starts consuming you and making you doubt each decision, step or action you take as a parent it is time to nip it in the bud.