The mom guilt has been real lately. Well, if I’m being honest, it’s been real since day one. It just got more intense once I went back to work and hasn’t eased up since then.
I never thought I’d feel the mom guilt. I thought that my general lack of feelings about most situations would prevent me from succumbing to this weird notion of mom guilt. I mean, guilt implies that I’ve done something wrong, so if I’m loving and caring for my child then what could be wrong?
When I went back to work and left my little guy with a babysitter, I cried. I’m talking ugly crying on my babysitter’s couch before I could even get out the door. And then sobbing as I walked towards my car. Choked back tears on the drive home. Suppressed the urge as I vacuumed my living room. Everyone I talked to said, “It gets easier”. For me, that was a load of crap. I’m almost 10 months in to this mothering gig and it hasn’t gotten any easier for me. Just this morning, as I waved goodbye to my husband and son through the glass door, I found myself holding back tears. Guilt. Hardcore mom guilt.
All of these things run through my mind at once. I should be home with him. I should be the one caring for him during the day. I should be able to provide everything he needs whenever he needs it. Guilt.
But for what? I know it’s not rational. I know that I have no reason to feel guilty. I love my son. Every chance I get to spend time with him, play with him, read with him, I take it. I get home from work as fast as I can so that I have as much cleaning done as possible by the time my husband walks through the door with him just so that I don’t have to worry about that when they’re home. I stay up late, cutting up and packaging fresh food for my kiddo or preparing his clothes for the next day. I try so hard to make sure that I am doing whatever I can to ensure that I am not shorting my kid (or husband!) in anyway.
I know it’s not rational, but the mom guilt is real. I’ve been working on this in my own life. How do you even handle something that you know isn’t rational thinking? I’ve got a few ideas…
First, I’m trying to back off the social media (I say this as I type up a blog post). A lot of my feelings of guilt start here. I see someone else’s facebook reality and compare it to my real life reality. I have had to unfollow people because I find myself scrolling by their posts thinking, “Why haven’t I done that for my kid?” The story behind these social media posts may be a lot different than what is portrayed. The grass is always greener, right?
Another thing I’m trying to do is recognize when these feelings start and bring myself back to reality. This is a toughie. Recognizing misplaced guilt means really looking at yourself and reaffirming that you are doing a good job. So I have to work outside of the home, but I’m doing this so that, in time, I will not have student loans and I will have the opportunity to stay home with my kiddo. I’m doing a good job and being a good mom– there is no reason for the guilt I feel. The work I’m putting in now is for the benefit of my family in the long run. I’m sure there are other working moms out there who can relate to this.
Finally, I just remind myself that it’ll all be ok. Am I loving my child? Am I helping him to grow and learn? Is he happy, healthy, fed, and cared for? Am I being intentional about time spent with him and the things he is exposed to? Yes. So it’ll all be ok. Things happen, mistakes are made. Kids are resilient– way more resilient than we like to give them credit for. My son won’t remember that I had to put him in his playpen for ten minutes while I vacuumed the house, but he will have great memories later in life of our great adventures together.
Mom guilt is real. We’ve all felt it and it won’t go away, I’m sure. But we can keep it in check.
You’re doing the best with the tools and the opportunities you’ve been given. You’re a great mom. Keep it up and don’t let misplaced guilt squash your joy.