Mom-Guilt: Party of 1

Ahhh, mom-guilt.

It's that overwhelming feeling that we shouldn't be doing something/anything for ourselves.  The kids come first. Our significant other comes first. Our aging parents come first. Our jobs come first. Our housework comes first. Basically everything comes before ourselves.  It's like there is an imaginary rule book that says once we have babies we are not important anymore. Our self care, our wants, and even our needs are put on the back burner. We stop getting pedicures, we stop buying ourselves clothes and cute shoes, we only go to the doctor for two reasons: we are deathly ill or we're pregnant. I know some of this is just the natural progression of having little humans to keep alive while trying to maintain some type of normalcy within our careers, social lives, and marriage. Regardless of the reason, mom-guilt can be overwhelming.

Ok, let's be real, mom-guilt is a real bitch. It's crippling and anxiety inducing - so why do so many of us have it?

Confession: Today I went the gym and almost left before even going in because I felt guilty for putting my two youngest in the gym daycare for 1 hour. No joke. There I was, sitting in the parking lot, saying to myself (and my two little ones still strapped in their car seats) "Do I really need to go today? I really want to do that class tomorrow. Ugh. Is it ok to bring them to the gym daycare two days in a row?" In the end I ended up going, and was glad I did. But the fact that I even needed to argue with myself about it is insane.

I think part of the mom-guilt we feel stems from American parenting practices. Americans look at motherhood as "all in". We are led to believe that we are not good moms if we aren't 100% committed to what's best for our families. Forget about what is best for us. We over indulge our children in all aspects: our time, our money, toys, screen time, vacations, brand names, sports, activities, lessons for this, lessons for that, don't even get me started on Christmas and birthdays. It's all about them, all the time. So much so that we tend to forget about ourselves.

After we are done spending every waking minute and dollar on our kids, we're too exhausted and broke to do anything for ourselves. Not only that, but there's always other moms chirping on and on about "Oh, I wish I had time to go to the gym! We're just too busy with hockey and piano lessons and advanced math classes!" or "I just can't bring myself to spend money new clothes for myself."  I don't know when being a mom became some sort of martyrdom pissing contest. Is taking care of yourself a selfish thing to do? Nooooo, it's not. We're lead to believe that who ever moms the most and the hardest, wins. But I think we are getting it all wrong. Being a mom is unequivocally hard and no one is ever going to take that away from you. Even if you have a nanny, don't work outside of the home, have only one child who happens to be exceptionally brilliant and well behaved- momming is hard for you, too. As moms we are always trying to be more and better. And we want our kids to be more and better. And our homes to be more and better. But doing all these things doesn't make us better moms, does it? No, what it makes us is frazzled; giving ourselves sub-par care while expecting our over-indulged children to look at us with some kind of undying love and respect.

A well rested mom is a happy mom. A rejuvenated mom is a happy mom. An active mom is a happy mom. A well dressed mom is a happy mom. Why do we not do these things for ourselves if we know it's good for us? We're experts on what is good for our children, aren't we? We know car seat requirements, vaccination schedules and it's not uncommon to schedule five years worth of well child visits ahead of time, for God's sake. We make sure our kiddos get outside time, quiet time, the appropriate amount of screen time, all their fruits and veggies, and some moms are into this whole organic food thing. We breastfeed until they self wean - sometimes that ends up being far longer than we'd like, and if we don't breastfeed then we look for the best formula that is organic-soy-closest-to-breast-milk, right? Meanwhile, we haven't been to the doctor since our last baby was born, we don't sleep, rarely enjoy the outdoors, and survive on our kids lunch scraps and left over dinners. We beat ourselves up for having a career, but then beat ourselves up for leaving the workforce to stay home. We beat ourselves up for not getting back to our pre-baby weight, but then beat ourselves up for taking time away from our kids to go to the gym. We beat ourselves up for wearing comfy leggings and hoodies all the time, but then beat ourselves up for spending money on cute clothes and shoes. So what gives? Where is this coming from? And how do we find balance?

I wish I knew. I've suffered from mom-guilt for 14 years. Here's the thing though, not all moms suffer from mom-guilt. Some of us have it, some of us don't. I'm not sure what makes or creates the mom-guilt for some and not others. But I know I have it, and I have it baaaaaaaad. So maybe to help this situation we can start by just being kind to each other and less judgey, myself included. I know so many women that give zero f-words and just do. their. thing. They're taking trips to Mexico without their kids, doing happy hour after working all day, post-workday gym routines, ordering take out every night, monthly spa days with their ladies. And that's all good. It's good to be more than just a mom. So many of us (ME) struggle with this balance.

The majority of us are just trying to make it until bedtime with minimal bodily fluids on our clothing and trying to squeeze in a dinner that consists of a vegetable that isn't french fries. But ya know what, momma?  I see you, I know you're dreaming about that tropical vacation, a massage, or an uninterrupted trip to the bathroom. We have to, at the very least, take care of ourselves too. And if that means, happy hour with co-workers - do it. Splurging on a gym membership - do it. Those cute shoes that are twice the price of your kid's shoes - do it. A vacation without your kids - do it. We are better moms when we take time to take care of ourselves.

Life is short and so are the days that our babies are hanging on our every movement. So, if you want to go get a pedi, get the damn pedi. You deserve it. And so does holier-than-thou Suzi up the street that says she can't bear to leave her babies for two hours on a Saturday. Cut the crap, Suzi. Go get a pedi with your neighbor. A pedicured mom is a happy mom. I promise.

Confession: I have two gift certificates for pedicures I have yet to use.

See, I'm right there with all of you. Baby steps, ladies. Baby steps.

Comments

  1. *sigh* I am so with you in this mom-guilt trip. Part of it, for me, is that I don't have the support at work to be the kind of mom and wife I want and sometimes need to be (you know, the kind that sometimes takes holidays off to spend time with my kids or takes family members to the doctor, etc). I can't do these things because I don't have the support at work and so I feel guilty. My thought is that if we all "just" supported each other in taking care of all aspects of our lives there would be a lot less guilt.

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    Replies
    1. Yes!! It's all about work life balance!! I think we're far better/less guilty mom's when we don't feel like we're working more than we're momming. We know the importance of working and our careers - but there has to be a balance and there just isn't that support for working mom's in the US.

      Hang in there - you've got this.

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