What is mom guilt?
Mom guilt is the consequence of wanting to be the best mother to your children. It comes as an intense feeling of anxiousness, doubt and uncertainty when you worry that you’re failing as a parent or fall short of expectations. However, being a perfect mother is a utopia.
Mom guilt is hard to overcome, especially because every mother is unique and thus the feeling of guilt has its own characteristics for each and every one of us. New moms, working and single moms are the ones who are probably the most exposed to it. The feeling manifests when we tend to compare ourselves to others, when we don’t have support in our daily struggles, or when we get overwhelmed by all those things we have to take care of and we get to neglect ourselves.
Mom guilt can show up as:
- Negative thoughts
- Anxiety, or even depression
- Overworking or overdoing things
- Addictive behaviours
Fortunately, this emotional state can be dealt with. Although, it won’t magically disappear, mom guilt can be muffled.
Here are a few things to help you overcome mom guilt
- Remember that unconditional love is the most important thing in this quest
- Trust yourself, your intuition and the decisions you make
- Stop worrying so much and start acting
- Avoid comparing yourself to others, everyone has their own story
- Don’t judge yourself, just give your best
- Remember that nobody is perfect, so be real
- Don’t be a “do-it-all” mother, ask for help and, more importantly, take it!
- It’s not selfish or narcissistic to take care of yourself
- Be happy, be grateful, laugh! I know that sometimes it might feel impossible, but it heals your mind and soul.
Just think about Jodi Picoult’s quote:
“Rest easy, real mothers. The very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you already are one.”
I, too, faced mom guilt when my daughter was 2-3 years old. Luckily, I managed to escape this feeling, although sometimes I feel like it wants to take hold of me again. In my case, the solution came unexpectedly. I had a few friends, mothers as well, who were always complaining about how hard it is to be a mother and do it all. They were complaining about every aspect of motherhood. Our conversations were extremely tiring. I am a very empathetic person, so I listened to them, I sympathized with them. But, on the other hand, I realized that I don’t want to be a complainer myself, because it’s hard and exhausting, especially for those around me. So, I started to see things differently and take action instead of overthinking and lamenting all the time. It turned out great. I am more relaxed and I have more confidence that I’m doing things the right way.
“Motherhood often feels like a game of guilt management. Sometimes the guilt is overwhelming and debilitating. Sometimes just a low simmer, but it always feels right there. There is never any shortage of fuel to feed the beast, so the whole mechanism is constantly nourished to administer shame and a general feeling of incompetency. Add our carefully curated social media world, which not only affects our sense of success and failure, but also furnishes our children with an unprecedented brand of expectations, and BOOM – we’re the generation that does more for our kids than ever in history, yet feels the guiltiest. Virtually every one of my friends provides more than they had growing up, and still the mantra we buy into is ‘not enough, not enough, not enough.’ Meanwhile, if we developed the chops to tune out the ordinary complaints of children, we’d see mostly happy kids, loved and nurtured, cared for and treasured.”
“The realities of motherhood are often obscured by a halo of illusions. The future mother tends to fantasize about love and happiness and overlooks the other aspects of child-rearing: the exhaustion, frustration, loneliness, and even depression, with its attendant state of guilt.”
― Élisabeth Badinter, The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women