There it is. Staring at us. Judging us. Reminding us what a failure we are and how awful we are to our child(ren).
As a mom of 3, I've run the road with Mom Guilt. It gets ugly sometimes, and event still, a solid 5 years after I told myself I would not beat myself up anymore I still struggle with the insecurity and downward spiral known as Mom Guilt. The thing about mom guilt is (we're not talking mommy wars here - that's a different blog post) it is entirely self inflicted. It makes us feel like garbage. WE make ourselves feel like garbage. And that's stupid. So here we go, I'm going to bare my soft little underbelly and tell you the 3 things I struggle with the most - the 3 things that when I think about I get a tiny me sitting on my shoulder and whispering in my ear "you're doing it wrong" and then I start to analyze, and worry, and eventually all I want to do is curl up in the fetal position and cry about how horribly I am ruining my children's lives. Chances are, if these are my soft spots, they are someone else's too... and we ALL need to stop feeling guilty about them.
- Taking time to yourself. You are a human. Having children does not turn us into some kind of super-human with abilities beyond those of all other humans. Humans need time to rest. Not just sleep, rest. As in decompress and do something enjoyable for a few minutes. Something that doesn't involve rocking a baby, wiping a butt (unless it's your own), cleaning the house, or figuring out a budget. Taking time to yourself will make you a better mom. You'll be a happier person and your parenting will reflect that. So take some time. Figure out that happy balance where you aren't neglecting your child, but you're still able to decompress and relax for an hour... or 3.
- Feeding your baby the way that works best for your family. There. I said it. This issue isn't just me - it's the one I see most often in parenting blogs, mommy forums and facebook groups. No matter what side of the fence you are on, there's guilt bottled up somewhere inside. This is the one I think stems the most from public opinions and Mommy Wars, but we let them get inside our heads and we end up giving ourselves a hard time too. Let me say this loudly and clearly for all of you: If you are feeding your baby age appropriate nutrition, it is nobody's business but yours, your baby's, and the baby's pediatrician what you are feeding them. Is breast best medically? Yes. There is medical evidence showing that breastfeeding has some great medical benefits for both mom and baby. But that doesn't mean it's the best practically. Some babies would starve if they depended solely on their mother's breasts. Some mothers would go completely insane if they weren't able to give their baby a bottle and walk away for a minute. Sometimes breastfeeding just isn't the right option for that family at that stage in their lives. Sometimes a bottle is the wrong choice, but sometimes it isn't, and we shouldn't be feeling guilty either way.
- Making a decision. I struggled with some other form of guilt focused on this one long before I became a parent. Now, I find that it is 10 billion times worse. In life, we all have to make decisions. Sometimes, we make the wrong ones. Sometimes making the wrong decision has some ugly consequences. Like the time I thought it would be a really good idea to let my son do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge he so desperately wanted to do - that decision ended up leading me to a one and a half hour tantrum about how I was the worst mother ever and a dramatic fanfare about how my 5 year old son was (without a shadow of a doubt) going to freeze to death. He survived, in case you were concerned. Wrong decisions happen. But what we need to focus on is the fact that we are making decisions. Decision by indecision is the wrong choice every time. Take a moment and think about the consequences of both options in the decision, make the choice, and stick with it; be proud of it, own it. It's your decision and you undoubtedly did what you thought was best for your family. If you end up being wrong, I've got a five year old who will gladly tell you what a total moron you are - and that's going to leave you in a much better mood than if you let Mom Guilt get to you.
Let go, friends. Let yourself live. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can and that's all anyone, your children included, can ever ask of you. Who knows, letting go of Mom Guilt might even make you have less to feel guilty about... it's amazing what a positive attitude can do for a child, trust me.