This post was originally published on 2/3/2020
Mom guilt doesn’t pick favorites. It is not only for the working mom, but the stay at home mom too. We spend so much time doing one thing, feeling bad for it, then doing another and still feeling bad!
I could name a million instances in my short time as a mother where I experienced that emotional pull that mom guilt causes.
But I’ll give you one in particular:
Three months after having my son, I went back to work, just like many American moms. I was met with many comments by my coworkers like “I’m sure you’re so glad to be back at work!”
I wasn’t glad at all. In fact, I felt horrible for being there while leaving my son in the hands of someone else. When I considered leaving my job to stay home full time, I felt equally as guilty. It was as if I was making the wrong decision regardless of what I chose. I believe that was my first brutal introduction to mom guilt.
How does Mom Guilt Work?
“Mom Guilt” is the terminology many people use to describe the guilty feeling many moms have when making decisions. It’s that feeling that makes you feel like no matter what, you’re making a bad decision as a parent.
This right here is one of the main reasons that The Overcoming Mom exists. It’s to shut up those lies that moms face every day. It’s to show yo how to rise above these struggles that bind us from walking in this divine calling of motherhood! Mom guilt is not a special kind of guilt that you can have because it’s some kind of badge of honor, it is a tool of Satan to keep you from walking freely in your motherly calling!
It’s about time we all stop carrying that kind of baggage, and start enjoying being a mother!
I know, I know, “That all sounds super dandy, Emily. But it’s just not that easy!”
You’re right. It’s not. But here is 5 things I have found that can help you stop mom guilt in its tracks:
1- Chill out on social media
It’s kind of funny that this advice is coming from someone who is trying to use social media to promote my mom-blog. But trust me, social media can really be the death of authentic motherhood.
Do you find yourself following Instagram pages where moms have perfectly clean houses, beautiful sensory bins, art tables, organic clean eating non-GMO gluten free meals, and kids who sleep 13 hours a night without fail?
Well, no wonder we all feel inadequate!
Social. Media. Is. An. Illusion!
Social media puts such an illusion to the realities of motherhood. We may put our bits of advice and recommendations out there, but trust me. Their houses are going to be a wreck at some point. Sometimes your only option for dinner is chicken nuggets and french fries. They may have to resort to Paw Patrol and Bubble Guppies just to survive the afternoon. Their kids may have cried all night long.
When you get to know a lot of these other mom influencer-types, you will see that though they take a pretty picture, motherhood is just as tough for them as it is for you! Nobody is exempt from it. I’d like to think that motherhood is the great equalizer of women!
So if you find yourself looking at these “perfect” women and wondering why you haven’t gotten your act together like they have, realize their act is probably not as together as you think.
I found that when I spent less time scrutinizing my life in comparison to someone else’s on social media, I realized that I had it more together than I thought. It may not be the kind of “together” that works for that Insta-Famous mom, but it’s the kind of “together” that works for me!
2- Take (almost) all parenting advice with a grain of salt
Like my story from above, one mom will say that sleep training is basically baby torture, and another mom will say that it’s 100% necessary and you have to do it!
One mom says feed purees, another says you should do baby led weaning. Your mother in law says keep hand sanitizer glued to your kids hands at all times, yet grandma says “Let them eat dirt!.” The mom at play group says be a stay at home mom, yet your neighbor says you should go to work.
Get the idea?
There is no one perfect way to be a mom! There are many wonderful ways to mother a child! All you gotta do is choose what works the best for you and your family! Simple as that!
Now, notice I said “almost.” The “almost” goes for medical advice.
I believe if your pediatrician says you should/shouldn’t do something, then you should probably listen. They’re trained in kid health and wellness. My pediatrician (whom I have a great relationship with and I absolutely ADORE) is the only other person in the world who can give me parenting advice and I will wholeheartedly listen and obey. They keep kids healthy for a living, so they may know what they’re talking about.
Other than that, parenting is like the longest “choose your own adventure” game you’ll ever play. You might as well enjoy it!
3- Spend time with your kids, guilt-free!
I am so horrible about trying to make every moment I have with my son the greatest moment of his life! I have fallen victim of feeling like a despicable mother for doing necessary things, like make dinner instead of play with my son, or go run and errand and leave my son with Daddy, or go out on a date night with my husband and drop my son off with his grandma.
Mom guilt to find every decision you make, and make you feel bad for making it. Whether it was a good decision or not.
I can GUARANTEE you, whatever time you spend with your children is valuable in their eyes. It has taken me almost my sons entire year of living for me to realize this! He’s just happy to spend time with me!
Breathe, working moms. What time you get is perfect!
I think this is a particularly hard thing for working moms. During my time as a teacher, I was so overwhelmed with guilt about dropping him off at the babysitters instead of being home with him. It absolutely killed me every morning to peel him out of my arms and leave him sobbing with someone who was not his mommy. I actually really felt like I was damaging his psyche by doing that!
Boy was I wrong!
He was sad that I was leaving and he missed me, but he quickly got over it and enjoyed playing with his friends. He learned how to develop a good relationship with someone else other than Mom, which is also a valuable gift to be given. Leaving him in the morning didn’t damage him, and he’s totally fine.
So when you do get to spend time with your family, don’t let all those lies dance around in your head. They’re just glad they get to spend time with you! That’s it! it’s about time we start to fully enjoy it too.
Which leads me to this point….
Related Reading: 3 Ways To Be More Present in the Important Moments of Life
4 – Be OK with not “enjoying every moment”
I literally just talked about enjoying the time you do get with your family, but sometimes it’s just not that simple.
Maybe you plan a really fun family day at the zoo, and one child has an absolute kicking screaming tantrum in front of the moneys, and you wonder whether you accidentally ended up with one of the zoo animals for your child….
If that’s not the moment of life you enjoy, then it’s ok! That makes you NORMAL!
Some moments are just going to totally suck! And you’re allowed to feel that way! I’m really not a fan of when I tell a frustrating story about my son, and someone responds with “enjoy every moment!”
Not every moment in motherhood will be enjoyable!
I kind of relate this to Jesus dying on the cross for us. Do you REALLY think Jesus enjoyed dying an excruciating death on a cross? Yes, he had the joy set before him of knowing why he was doing it, but you’re a flat out liar if you think he actually LIKED being tortured up there! He knew the end result would be worth it, but the process to get there was difficult beyond words.
I know the sentiment. They’re just trying to tell you that life is a vapor, and one day you’re going to look back and long for those days. But honestly, some of those vapor moments in life you’re not going to miss. You’re not a bad mom for not enjoying some moments of motherhood!
Motherhood is similar. You’re definitely NOT going to enjoy the tempter tantrums! You’re not going to enjoy the dinner refusals, the pounds of homework, the poopy diapers, or the other unfortunate things that can come with motherhood. Guess what, you’re allowed to not enjoy those moments!
What you can enjoy is the joy set before you. The time after the mess. When the tantrum settles, or the dinner is picked up off the floor, or when you make it out of the grocery store in one piece. Enjoy the moments after the dust settles.
Just like Jesus endured and saw that joy fulfilled, so can you. You’re allowed to not like it in the moment, but I promise there will be something to enjoy when that phase is all over.
5- Separate the truth from the lies
I hope you realize you’re not alone if you’ve ever had that horrid thought cross your mind:
“I should have never been a mom”
We are our worst critics. Especially when what you’re criticizing is your ability to raise a human being into a somewhat decent adult one day. But God knew exactly what he was doing when He made you a mom! I could probably find a million baby blankets with this scripture on it, but it applies to you right now:
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you..." Jeremiah 1:5
I’ll say it one more time: God did NOT make a mistake making you a mom!
You were MEANT for this! You were CREATED for this! God knew you’d struggle, God knew you’d make mistakes, God knew you would have at least 15 meltdowns before lunch, God knew all that before He decided to give you a small life to take care of. And NONE of that changed His mind.
He must have a whole lot of confidence in you!
How do I know? Because any mom who does everything they can to be better, including stumbling upon this post from a fellow struggling mom about how to overcome the guilt associated with being a mom, must care enough about their kids to merit being a great mom!
Mom guilt is spelled L.I.E.S.
Any word spoken over you, whether its someone else speaking it or yourself, that goes against what God thinks of you is simply a lie. God thinks you’re an amazing mom. All those other thoughts that go against it are just big fat lies.
I’m sure there’s a more eloquent way I could wrap all that up, but that’s what I got. In a society where it’s “shame if you do, shame if you don’t,” remember that the best thing you can do for your family is what YOU think is best! All of the rest of the opinions are just a wash.