When Cole was first, first born I had this moment – one in which I had no idea what I was doing, whether I was holding him right or trying to latch right, you know, totally new to this mom business. But I was confident that me being there and trying was enough. That me, as I was, was just what he needed.
Unfortunately it didn’t take long for the fear, uncertainty and worry to creep its way in – and that was when my mom guilt was born. Mom guilt is rooted in the fear that we aren’t good enough, that we aren’t doing the right thing, that we can’t keep it all together. It is founded in the thought that something we do would “screw up” our kids or that they’ll miss out on something because we couldn’t deliver.
I’ve found that I feel guilty for ALL kinds of reasons, big and small, legit and unfounded, impactful and not worth my energy. They all tend to fit in these four categories:
And honestly, I’m tired of it. I’m tired of feeling guilty, of being worried and uncertain. I want to rid myself of this illegitimate mom guilt and find my way back to that moment where I felt like just being there and being me was enough. And mama, I might have found a way to do it…
You see in trying to figure out what to write on this very blog post, I stumbled across a post from A Mother Far From Home. (You can read it here). And I think she is SO on to something about ridding ourselves of mom guilt.
When we have an honest moment with our kids – we share a giggle over something silly, we share an interest over the airplane that flew over head or the butterfly floating by, we dance or sing or read or do anything that puts us on the same playing field, there is a magic that happens. When we aren’t directing or questioning, scolding or refocusing, but we have the same excitement, sense of humor, awe or wonder as they do, a weight lifts off.
Have you ever been at the end of your rope, just want to throw in the towel and then something funny happens and you both laugh. Doesn’t that tension roll away? You’ve found a common ground, a deep breath and can move on.
Let’s be clear here, I’m NOT talking about hours of playing make believe or dress up, doing a big elaborate activity or abandoning altogether the directing, scolding and questioning that is needed at times. I’m talking about 5, 10, 15 minutes of undivided time that is spent enjoying something with your child. I’m talking about diffusing a tense moment or a rough day with a goofy dance, a funny face or just a little laughter.
Think about how that changes those types of guilt…
You can’t be there at that moment, but you’ve spent a few minutes before leaving reading their favorite book or listened for 2 minutes while they told you a story about their lego game. You’ve set aside a few minutes to make them the priority, so when you can’t be there, they know that they are important and loved. They can handle you being gone because they are secure and you can handle leaving because you know they are ok. No more mom guilt.
Your day was long, you have looked at the clock 10 times in the last 20 minutes to see if it is bed time yet. But today you went in the backyard for 15 minutes and found a bucket full of pine cones or pushed them them on the swing or drew with chalk. You enjoyed them, right there in that moment, so when you’re tired and want some time to yourself, you’re ok with that. No more mom guilt.
You yell too much or say no more that you could ever imagine, you worry that you aren’t doing or saying the right things. But when you’ve put your phone down in the evening, stopped what you were doing and watched your kids favorite show with them, you can talk to them on their level and build a common ground. When on that common ground, it becomes easier give directions and they are more willing to listen. No more mom guilt.
After a bit of a blow up, you feel like you are lacking, you are not good enough at this mom thing, patient enough. Maybe you aren’t a good enough cook or homemaker. But when you say you’ll play later and then stop while the chicken (that’ll be too dry!) is in the oven to build a lego tour for 10 minutes, you build their confidence in you, their respect. The taste of dinner doesn’t matter, the dishes waiting to be washed won’t change their mood, but that little connection will make them feel like they matter and that will change things! No more mom guilt.
What did I have in those early unsure moments that surpassed all the other feelings – connection. I was there where he needed me, and just being there was enough.
Find a connection today and change the whole game.
If you struggle with mom guilt, Mother & More has some great resources and you can find their profile right HERE!