I’ve been thinking a lot about our last Working Moms’ Group. We talked about ‘Mommy Guilt.’ The question was, what do you have ‘mom guilt’ about. The answers were pretty common,
“I feel guilty about feeding my kids chicken fingers instead of home cooked, whole food meals from scratch.”
” I feel guilty because I like being at work and I actually enjoy being away from my baby.”
“I feel guilty because I let my kids watch TV when we get home at night.”
“I feel guilty that I look at social media while I am nursing.”
“ I feel guilty that I put my baby in daycare and go to work.”
“ I feel guilty that I don’t spend quality time with my toddler when I am caring for my newborn.”
The list is endless.
These are awesome moms who have babies and work outside the home. They are tired. So very very tired and they are working hard in multiple arenas all the time. And what I hear is,
“I feel guilty when I don’t live up to an impossible standard.”
“I feel guilty that I continue to enjoy and thrive in my career.”
“I feel guilty that I work outside the home.”
“I feel guilty that I have things that I enjoy outside of being a parent,”
“I feel guilty that I need a little time to recharge my own batteries.”
“I feel guilty that I cannot devote my full attention to each of my children at the same time.”
I too get caught up in perfect parenting, perfect mothering. I succumb to the idea that if I just try a little harder, I can get something else done. If I just try harder, I can prepare a delicious and nutritious meal from scratch, chase my toddler, read to my preschooler and help my big boy with homework all at the same time. If I just try harder, I can have more patience, listen better and not be touched-out at the end of the day. If I just try harder, I won’t feel the guilt.
But, it is really guilt?
Here is a definition of ‘guilty’ that the internet yielded:
“culpable of or responsible for a specified wrongdoing” – Dictionary.com
We call it ‘Mommy Guilt,’ but maybe that’s a misnomer. Maybe it’s something else, sadness at leaving your baby or shame at having an emotion that is not socially acceptable. Maybe it’s resentment about not having a moment to yourself or a partner who is not pulling their weight.
Is serving a chicken finger wrong? Is going to work a ‘specific wrongdoing’? I don’t think so.
So, when the ‘Mommy Guilt’ hits you this week, dig a little deeper and see if there is something else there. If you find it, it might feel uncomfortable or scary. Take a deep breath and practice some self-compassion. Motherhood isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for real, imperfect, whole human beings with needs, feelings and desires all of their own. It’s not for perfect, mythical mommies – they don’t exist.
“You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”
― Brene Brown