I know that I am not the only mom that experiences mom guilt. It’s actually a reoccurring thing for me, as I’m always thinking back on how I could have done something differently. There are days when I pick Cannon up late or my parents’ pick him up and I lose time with him. Or there are mornings where we get donuts or hashbrowns from the drive-thru instead of a homemade meal.
Let me take it back to the main topic before I go all in on my own mom guilt.
What is mom guilt? I call it mom guilt, but some may call is parent guilt. Essentially, it’s feeling like you’re not doing enough for your child or making decisions that you think will mess up your kid. It sounds terrible when you define it.
And, I know a grappling number of women (and men) that deal with this guilt. They deal with not feeling like the best parent ever because they might have missed something or they could have handled a situation in a different way like explaining why it’s wrong to do something versus raising their voice. It’s a lot of things. Things that make you feel guilty, like your child is suffering because of certain actions.
That’s why I want to talk about how to handle it and let go of the things you can’t change. We are not superhumans and we should not hold ourselves to such high standards that can’t always be met.
First, forgive yourself.
This has been a learning for me. I am not perfect and I have to stop trying to be. Forgiveness has truly helped me become a better mom. Not only forgiving myself but stopping myself from being too harsh. I feel like as parents, we really get into our own heads and drive this antidote of bad parenting when it’s not all that. One of the many things you need to ask yourself is what are you feeling bad about? What is it that is washing guilt over you?
From there, forgive yourself. Give yourself grace because you don’t change that moment. You can only go up from there. You, me, whoever else, we can only go up. So, why hold on to something that will make us feel bad? If your child is happy and breathing, you’re doing a good job. I find that when I forgive myself, I open myself up to how I am going to improve and do better. I think that’s all one can do. Forgive and improve.
Revisit the situation with a different approach.
Although I can’t change the situation, I like to revisit and think of possible ways I can handle in the future. For instance, Cannon locked me out of the house. Instead of checking the garage door, I panicked and broke the knob off the storm door, trying to get in. If I had checked all the doors before panicking, I might have saved myself some time and a rush of emotions. Again, this is a situation that I felt immensely guilty about because I ran outside to fix something and didn’t bring my tot (he only had a diaper on). I can’t change what happened, but I can plan for different ways to handle things.
Another approach would be how to handle situations like tantrums. When Cannon throws a tantrum, I used to stress out and cringe at the thought of people staring or walking out of the store with him. Now, I simply ask him if he wants a hug and talk to him slowly until he calms down. If my child crying bothers someone, that’s on them if we’re being real. There’s no reason to be down on myself about a situation that I tried to handle and the first approach didn’t work.
Define what’s good enough to you.
This is the biggie. As parents, we have such high standards. Especially because of what we view on social media and in movies, we’re aspiring to be these perfect parents. That’s just not it. As someone that wants to be an understanding and loving mom, I know that I’m not going to be the perfect Mary Sue mom out of a novel. I get frustrated and I stress out, and that’s okay. Sometimes, I raise my voice, and after I think of ways that I could have handled it better or been like a mom I saw in some show, movie, book, or viral post.
As a parent, we should be setting the standards of what’s okay and what’s not okay about our behavior. We have the ability to dictate how we want to parent. Ultimately, we get to decide if what we’re doing is right or wrong. If you feel awful that you can’t coach your child’s games or make it to all of their games, make a promise to yourself to attend a certain number and to be the loudest parent there. Many of the things that we feel guilty about, our kids could careless about. You set the standard and define the parent you are going to be.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Hi, my name is Brittnee and this is what I’m not good at. I am the type of person to pile it all on myself and feel bad when I mess up here or when I drop the ball. I try to juggle all these balls then when one galls, I start to feel all the guilt. It’s been a learning curve to ask for help and to reach out to others. As someone who believes that my child is my responsibility, I felt like a burden when it came to asking for help. Whether it’s someone to watch Cannon so I can go to lunch or someone to pick him up, I always felt guilty. And, that’s something I shouldn’t be guilty about.
I have to remember that people want to see Cannon and they want their time with him. It’s okay to let other people take care of my child. And, that’s the same for you. Don’t let motherhood and having these standards keep you from getting help. Get all the help that you can get! You deserve a break even when you don’t feel like you do. Ask for help and get help. Don’t take those offers for granted because they won’t always be on the table.
Mom guilt is something that we all experience. I don’t know about you, but I feel it a lot.
Especially with this pandemic and all the things that we’re missing out on. I constantly remind myself that there is nothing that I or anyone can do (besides wearing masks and stay germ-free). Being cooped up in the house is something I don’t like for my child. But, I’m working on things we can do like crafts and activities. Things that will take away from the fact that we’re always in the house.
It’s a work in progress. It’s not going to go away immediately or possibly ever, but giving one’s self grace is a step.
Do you feel mom guilt? How do you handle your mom guilt?
For more on motherhood, you can check out my blog posts here.