Having read the Very Hungry Caterpillar a gazillion times, I’d like to think that becoming a mom is kind of like becoming the ultimate butterfly. It can be intimating creating, carrying, and nurturing another human being. You literally become a different person—whether you want to or not.
So it only makes sense that we, as mothers, second, third, and sometimes fourth guess ourselves when it comes to making decisions for and about our children. But that’s not the only time we second-guess ourselves.
We second-guess ourselves when we try to take time for ourselves. To do things for ourselves. And we call it mom guilt because somehow this guilt bypasses daddies. It’s a cute non-threatening way to refer to a dangerous condition where moms’ postpone their joy (sometimes indefinitely) Many of us feel we’re not allowed to be, do, or have certain dreams and aspirations—because we’re moms.
Motherhood (alone) should fill us with joy.
Don’t get me wrong, it does. I LOVE being a mom, but I’m not ‘just’ a mom. I’m still that fiercely independent, strong, aspirational women I was before I became a mommy and a wife.
And that’s a good thing.
My personal drive to achieve and succeed makes me a better mom. It helps me instill those qualities into my daughter AND my son.
Anyone who makes moms feel wrong for wanting to be, do and have more out of life is no more than a bully.
So, it’s safe to say that think mom guilt is dangerous. Here’s why.
1. Mom Guilt Is Based On False Comparisons.
Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram are not real life. It takes work to get all of your little children to smile and face you at the same time. Perfect pictures are fake or they’re professional. And still, it takes hundreds of single shots to find the perfect picture.
Motherhood is not a single shot. It’s billions of shots each day. Sure, there are some perfect moments but it’ll probably happen the one time you don’t have your phone. As moms, most the moments in our lives are a bit looney toons. So, stop comparing your real life crazy to someone else’s fake perfection.
Feeling guilty about not being a perfect mom is insane. There are no perfect mothers. Correction: The only perfect mothers are the ones too old to remember the struggle.
Mom guilt is a real thing. Don’t make it exponentially more stressful and potentially physically or psychologically dangerous by adding false comparisons into your space.
Keep your eyes on your lane and stay focus on your own path. Don’t worry about what others are doing.
2. Not everyone is cut out to be Betty Homemaker.
This almost goes back to the idea of false comparisons because not everyone was meant to be a stay-at-home-mom, a working mom, or Betty Homemaker for the rest of her life.
And that’s ok.
As women—as human beings—we go through transitions in our lives. Some of us land on the Betty Homemaker square in this game called Life. Others of us skip Betty Homemaker all together and land on homeschooling, entrepreneurship, or working mom.
It’s all good.
I cook for my family but I know I’m not the BEST cook out there. While I used to try, I always felt a bit bad about my cooking abilities. And I don’t know what happened but one day, I just let that go. Better Homemaker and Pinterest Diva I will never be, but I do other things well. And my family seems to be doing just fine eating my subpar cooking.
I’m sure you do too. Focus on that.
Be the best you can be and don’t worry about the rest.
3. Shhhh…Moms like to #2 in private too.
I hate to rude but moms know the privilege of being able to have a moment of privacy. Whether you need to use the facilities, brush your hair, find your chapstick, or just sit in silence, bathrooms may be the universal “mommy haven.”
You know, that place where you can hear your own thoughts for a moment?
It’s a magical place, the bathroom, if only for the few minutes until the little ones figure out where you are and start trying to pry their way into your quiet moment.
I’m being funny (well..attempting funny), but the truth is moms, wither working or staying at home, need time to themselves.
There’s no reason to feel guilty about wanting to go #2 in private. So, there’s definitely no reason to feel guilty for needing some space from your family to listen to your inner voice and to nurture your well-being so that you can better support your family.
4. Daycare is not a cop-out.
I had a dad (not my husband) recently ask me, “why do stay at home moms need to put their kids in daycare? They’re not working.”
While I probably could have been more diplomatic in my response to him, let me lay it out nicely for you.
Daycare is not a cop-out. Even stay at home moms need a chance to be more than live-in childcare. When women choose to be stay-at-home moms, they give up earning potential, a sense of identity separate from the family, and a TON of independence.
For a mom, putting kids in daycare is an opportunity to reclaim her identity and independence. Whether she chooses to return to work or she does something else to lift her spirits, that personal freedom is important to a mom
A precursor to school…
For kids, daycare is an important part of social development and a precursor to school.
So whether you’re dealing with a delusional misinformed man, an overly judgy mom-friend, or just your own expectations of yourself as a mother, just take a step back and know that daycare is not a cop-out. It can be good for both mommy and child.
In this case, mom guilt is dangerous because you may just need a consistent break. Robbing yourself of what you need can not only impact you physically and emotionally but it can also impact a child and your marriage. In many cases, when moms take care of ourselves, the goodness impacts our families as well.
5. The Kids Gotta Eat Something
I’ve confessed to not being a Better Homemaker or a Pinterest Diva (missed it? See #2), but my family still needs to eat.
Obsessing about your skills and feeling badly about your not-so-hot abilities is really only important if you want to improve…
If you’re like me and you’re totally fine with being able to make a reasonably healthy yet forgettable meal, then that’s OK.
You weren’t designed to be perfect at everything. Focus your skills and attention on the things you either care to improve or already have an above average skill.
It’s not healthy to try to be the BEST at everything because you end up being mediocre at everything. What’s worse, you’ll feel even less than mediocre and that’s definitely not healthy.
So, just make sure your family eats. I try to make my meals as nutritious and tasty as I can, but I leave the judgments alone. At the end of the day, full bellies are what matter.
6. Dads are parents too.
Mom guilt is dangerous because dads are parents too. Not only are dads parents, but surprise! Dads are equally as responsible for the health and welfare of children as moms.
That means mom guilt is a weird socially constructed sad sack club that mommies have paid into. Dads don’t have mom guilt. Dads feel a responsibility to take care of themselves and provide for their families.
If that means daddy has to work late, so be it. It’s ultimately for his family’s benefit. And on the weekend, if dad needs a round of golf to decompress from his busy week, that’s ok too.
And honestly, it IS ok to take care of yourself. But that self-care needs to be equally distributed between men and women (without guilt).
For moms to bear the brunt of child raising robs dads of the opportunity to experience it. And while dads may not WANT to bear all of the psychological and social responsibilities for their children, it’s important for wives to have that level of support; for daughters to see men man up and for sons to see the full scope of manhood.
Mom guilt is dangerous because it deprives women, men, daughters, and sons from the full spectrum of what it means to be a father and a man.
7. Mommy needs a life.
This should go without saying, but it’s not always so obvious to people who aren’t moms. Choosing to become a parent (not just a mom) definitely changes your life. And when both parents feel supported, moms and dads can pursue pastimes in tandem with their family responsibilities.
Mom guilt is dangerous because it risks robbing mothers of creating new possibilities for themselves inside of their commitments to motherhood and family.
8. Guilt overshadows joy.
There’s so much to enjoy as mothers and even more to anticipate, mommy guilt is a thief of that joy. It’s hard to be grateful and happy when you’re constantly fighting against the false expectations of the type of mother you should be.
The danger of mom guilt is that you risk missing out on so much joy. Sure, there will be times that are hard, negative, or just crappy, but there are also times of joy—moments you want to bottle up and save forever. Even the risk of missing those moments isn’t worth the mom guilt.
9. Depression is sneaky and equal opportunity.
Falling into the mom guilt trap can be a precursor to a downward spiral of comparison, disappointment, and depression.
It’s not worth it. There’s no guaranteed path to avoid depression, but why not cut yourself a break and avoid the mom guilt? Maya Angelou said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
This is one of those times, mom guilt will hurt you. It’s only a matter of time. If you can’t change the mom guilt, change your attitude toward it.
Instead of looking at that guilt as a critique of who you are as a mother, why shift your perspective and see it for what it is—a false expectation of reality? You could even choose to see your mom guilt as your vision of motherhood, something to strive for not beat yourself with mercilessly.
10. The time is too short to waste unhappily.
Childhood is a short ray of sunshine constantly on the move. If you blink, you’ll miss it. Mom guilt is so dangerous because you can get so involved in your own expectations of yourself that you forget to just enjoy the moments you have with your little ones.
It’s not always going to be perfect. Heck, it may NEVER be Pinterest Perfect, but it’ll be YOU perfect.
Mom guilt is dangerous. It can rob us of the joy, delight, and complete accepetance of ourselves and our children for who they are and who WE are as their mothers. Those are things I’m just not willing to jeporadize to look like I’ve got my life together for some random people on the internet.
Moms, stand with me and let’s just ditch the mom guilt. It’s not worth it.
What do you say?