Mom Guilt

October 08, 2014

Mom guilt.

It's a thing. It's a REAL thing.

No matter how ready you THINK you are to have a child will never be 100% ready and that is because nothing prepares you for such a vast unknown.

Along with the rollercoaster of highs and lows that comes with parenthood is this little thing called, guilt. I thought it was safe to assume that guilt was something that announced it's arrival shortly after something wrong had been done. Now you may ask yourself, how can being a mom make you feel guilty?

O man. Don't get me started.

As a mom you want the BEST for your children. You want them to have everything possible that will make them the best human being they can be and more often then not we let the full burden of that ideal fall onto our shoulders. Along with that unachievable goal of perfection comes the need to be a jack of all trades mom, a.k.a the modern day Pinterest mom.

Just to clear the air I have NO issues with Pinterest, quite the opposite. I got so addicted that I would spend hours upon hours pinning AMAZING ideas that would never come to existence in the real world because I would run out of time (I was too busy pinning and dreaming of what could be.)

Unfortunately I ended up believing that this illusion of perfection actually existed and I was clearly way off my game and failing my child. What Pinterest showed me was that out there existed moms who could do it all. They could create and freeze a thousand gluten, dairy, sugar free meals, create Montessori lesson plans, manifest the perfect fishtail braid, expertly organize children's toys according to color and theme and keep their house clean all in one day. With their children put to bed on time they would then finish the evening off with some nail art and a cup of homemade tea in a DIY sharpie mug as they write their daily blog post.

First off, WHO are these people?? And if you truly exist please host a class that I can take so I may learn all of your magical secrets.

I was left feeling so useless. I am lucky if I can get my child clothed and fed before 10 AM let alone out the door and into the real world. If Eve's hair is done, her clothes are somewhat matching and I have actually showered it is a good day, seriously. At two years old she can already match her outfits better than I can...

I spent the first two years of her life trying to achieve the unattainable goal of being what our society and social media portrays as a perfect mom. The mom who is giving her child the BEST. Every day that I went to bed I would list off all the things I hadn't done that day and lay awake worrying how it somehow impacted her life and she might suffer long term psychological damage due to my shortcomings.

And then there was my art. I began to hate my desire to paint because it meant time away from things that I should be doing to better Eve's life. I should be cooking vegetable filled muffins and planning a Montessori toddler activity for the next day... not painting, that would just be selfish. How could I expect to be the best mom for Eve when I was becoming miserable from not fulfilling my own needs and desires in order to be happy. The idea that raising her wasn't "enough" to make me feel fulfilled made me insanely guilty. Thinking I would be cheating her needs if I tried to meet my own led to bitterness and negativity seeping into my motherhood experience.

Then it hit me.

You cannot be the BEST mom unless you take time to do what makes you happy and fulfilled as an individual in order to maintain who you are. It reminds me of what flight attendants tell you about the oxygen mask, safety procedures, they always stress that you cannot help someone else unless you help yourself first.

Of course it only took two years for this epiphany.

I thought about my own upbringing and the generations that have come before us. It has really only been the last 100 years that parenting has shifted to this strange dynamic where our kids come first, at all times. Not to say this doesn't have it's positives, but along with it comes this unhealthy concept that our children are the end all.

Past generations consisted of parents who worked hard to make a living for their family and the children would be expected to fall in order and help out or entertain themselves. This in turn enabled them to learn some very valuable life lessons. They could discover how to expand their imaginations as an individual and understand they were not the center of the world. Children would learn quickly that the world will continue to go on with or without them and they could either jump in with both feet or get left behind.

Now, I fully understand that times have changed drastically since then, not to mention our environment and mindsets. That being said, I realized by putting Eve as the center of my world was actually hindering not only her development but mine as well. All this time I devoted to meeting her every single need I was taking away opportunities for her to discover things herself which would allow her to grow! I didn't need to sit by her side as she sorted colored pom poms into an ice cube tray. No. I needed to show her that I had confidence in her abilities and continue on with my daily, personal activities thus showing her the world would continue to spin without her as the epicenter.

I could sense her frustration with me when I was too structured and strict with what I thought a mom should be when all along she was the most content when I am the creative disaster that I am.


The changes I made in regards to my priorities had an alarming effect on my relationship with my daughter, albeit a very positive one. The confidence and imagination she gained just because I gave her space to discover ways to entertain herself was astonishing. The amount of time I now had to catch up on daily chores and fulfill personal desires such as painting was radical to me.

Eve was happier. I was happier. Our relationship began to bloom into this amazing dynamic where mom guilt was becoming a thing of the past.

I am unorganized, I have no fashion sense and am terrible at meal planning, but I DO have my own gifts that God gave me which make me the individual I am today. All I ever had to do was find a way to use my unique quirks and talents to the best of my ability as a mother.  If I let those shine to the fullest and stop trying to be someone I am not, I can teach Eve the valuable lesson of having confidence in the things that make us all unique.

Mom guilt is definitely a real thing, and it can be your downfall.
I know that because I let it be mine for two years and still struggle with it on occasion. When I catch myself slipping I think of what I have learned from my own mother.

If you were to ask my mom today she would have a VERY long list of all of her shortcomings as a mother but when I remember my childhood I remember her being a superhero. She is an amazing woman who constantly accomplished the impossible and was able to remain herself through and through all while homeschooling 4 kids and being a pastor's wife. I might not remember every homeschooling lesson (sorry mom!) but the beautiful, raw moments where she taught me how to bake, garden and be creative, those are the memories I will treasure forever. I can only pray that I provide Eve with even a miniscule amount of what my mother gave me through all of her unique talents and imagination.

Finally conquering my Mom Guilt has led to a new passion for my art that has spilled over into Eve's life. We get to share this incredible bond when we paint together and I can't believe I almost missed out on creating those memories just because I almost let Mom guilt take me down...

Never again.

Has Mom guilt ever affected you? Did you conquer it? If so what was the biggest thing that changed in your life?

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  1. Oh, yes! Mom Guilt sure did affect me in my early parenting days. I don't have as much energy as many people (turned out to be due to having Lupus, which wasn't found until the kids were older teens and young adults). So our house was frequently messy, never magazine-perfect. The greatest thing that helped me was the counselor at my husband's medical school assuring me over and over until I internalized it: Kids DO NOT need perfect parents. They just need a parent that's Good Enough. They need to know they are loved and important, but not to the point of taking over your entire life. They need to see your strengths and weaknesses and how you handle those. Seriously - the power of truly understanding your kids only need a Good Enough parent is tremendous. It frees you up from self-bashing and makes your relationships with the kids so much better because accepting yourself at your best as a really great option for your kids lets you be comfortable and love them fully instead of desperately trying to be something you're not. :)

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I love the way that you put it and it truly helps me to hear your personal experience with it, thank you. You have so much wisdom in what you wrote!
      It took me a long time, and I am definitely still learning, but you are right. Kids need parents that are Good Enough who love them unconditionally, they don't need to be perfect! Which is great for me to hear because I am FAR from perfect :P
      Thank you again for sharing!