Since the day my oldest was born, I have had some sort of mom guilt. At first, it was that I was physically enable to birth an almost 10 pound baby and had an emergency and very complicated c-section. Should I have agreed to it earlier? Did I eat too much while pregnant? The fact of the matter is we all have some mom guilt of one type or another. Its time we come clean and talk about it.
Baby Mom Guilt
You have a beautiful healthy baby and you are supposed to feel great about that. Right? Well, lets be real ladies even with the perfect birth and most wonderful experiences, you will eventually tip into the land of mom guilt. After Will was born, I ended up back in the hospital for c-section complications. The doctor told me that he could not be admitted with me and physically I needed to stop breast feeding because it was making me weaker and the situation was bad. Cue the mom guilt. My first emotion was complete relief. I was exhausted. I had fainted while breastfeeding and frankly I just didn’t enjoy it. Later that week, a “friend” I had met in pre-natal classes called to “empower me” to start pumping while in the hospital against doctors orders and start throwing it out until I was allowed to return to breastfeeding. Instead of being empowered, I felt terrible and to say the least we are no longer friends.
Whether you are breastfeeding and enjoying a glass of wine or too much peanut butter or at the opposite end of the spectrum and bottle feeding, mom judgement and mom guilt needs to stop. We are all trying hard here. Lets stop doing this to each other.
Toddler Mom Guilt
So you made it through the newborn stage and now your kid can walk. Every mom knows that the minute your kids can roll, move or walk, something will eventually go wrong. The guilt of watching your child fall off a couch, or roll the wrong way into the dog or fall down some stairs without being able to protect them from harm is enormous.
I remember a neighbour who embarrassingly showed me a bump on her daughter’s head from falling a few inches. I pulled Will over who at the time was 3 and showed her how Sick Kids Hospital had to glue his chin back together when he fell down a few stairs in our garage and took a freak turn into a propane tank.
We compared mom guilt and I reassured her that worse things would happen and that she could always come visit me for a glass of wine and dose of reality.
Going Back to Work Mom Guilt
This is a biggie. Whether you go back at 6 weeks, 6 months, a year or never, you will experience some real mom guilt. An incredibly smart and fun woman that I know confided in me that she is considering going back to work after having a baby. She prepped it by explaining that I would be upset. WHOA- what? I reassured her that I not only didn’t care if she went back to work, stayed home or bought a camel but I would support her in any decision she made. Going back to work is hard but for some women its a necessity or a true want. I am lucky to have found a new line of work that allows me mostly to work from home but I still feel mom work guilt. I try and work mostly while the kids are at school but I do have weekly commitments at night that take me away from bed time cuddles twice a week. I weigh this against the fact that my kids are probably happier with a mom who feels fulfilled and happy. I am not saying you need work to fulfill you but whatever makes you happy, you should go ahead and do.
School Yard Mom Guilt
You smearked didn’t you? Any mom who has a school aged kid knows about school yard mom guilt. Remember those moms in baby class that were really proud of their super advanced kid and compared him to yours ALL THE TIME? Well guess what…their kid grew up and now you get to have these incredibly fun school yard chats. The comparison between your kids might have been annoying but guess what happens now? The school yard is a place to compare notes on what you feed your kids, your volunteer hours at the school and your overall dedication to your child’s homework and success in kindergarten. Yeeeshh.
When I was kid, my mom opened the door and out we went. She didn’t hang around a school yard chatting for an hour. She had other things to do. Now a days, schools require you to stay until your kid enters the school. You also need to be there the second they get out.
Yesterday, some friends of mine started talking hot lunches. I explained that I was (a) too cheap to buy a weekly hot lunch and (b) thought the concept was a little ridiculous. I never had hot food. I’m alive. A mom who I truly think is great chimed in and admitted she makes her kids hot lunches every day at 11:00 and walks them to the school for the 11:15 lunch period. You could literally see the mom guilt climbing out of me and mocking me while I tried to play cool. I thought more about it last night and I decided like Elsa I needed to let it go.
Traveling Mom Guilt
Now I will introduce you to my newest guilt- Traveling Mom Guilt. As this blog grows and my kids spend more time in full day school, opportunities to travel are flooding in. One of my kids had a very bad week this week. A very bad week. Things are getting better and mostly solved but in reality the entire week I couldn’t help but feel guilty about the fact that tomorrow I am headed to Los Angeles. Like other working moms who need to leave home, I am torn every time I need to get on a plane or leave the city and the kids for a few nights. My reality is that this blog doesn’t exactly pay the bills around my house. So not only am I leaving, I’m not bringing home the bacon. Just a few random souvenirs and some great memories. Additionally, unlike some working moms, I don’t need to go – I WANT to go. The trip was optional and offered to me. I don’t have a boss who told me to go.
I weigh my mom guilt against the fact that I am happier than I have been in past years and this outlet lets me be me.
Curing Mom Guilt
In reality, there is no cure for mom guilt. You can definitely sooth it and try and quiet it down. How? Find the right friends. Don’t want to be friends with that woman who is judging your parenting? Great don’t be. As adults, we are rarely in situations where we are forced to be best friends with people who aren’t the right fit for us. Whatever your guilt is, you will find someone that can and will support you. Turn the rest off. Find the women you trust that also make you laugh and bring you wine when necessary. Nothing shuts up mom guilt better than a session with your girlfriends.
I also think you need to own your mom guilt. Sure I feel guilty, I am leaving tomorrow. The reality is some of my guilt is that even with the week we have had in our home, I still WANT to go away. I need a break. I want to spend a night in Los Angeles completely solo. I own that. By owning it, I can start to get over it a little or at least acknowledge that I know it the guilt is sitting there, bags packed and ready to board my flight. Maybe we can have some fun together now.