Updated: Mar 9, 2020
I remember the moment I found out that I was pregnant. That’s when it started. Something no one talked about. It wasn’t in my pregnancy books or discussed at birthing classes. You would think that it would not hit me until Gabe was born, but there it was already. This new feeling that came along. It was weird feeling that was so unexpected, and I thought I was alone. I did not think that other mothers felt this way at all. I thought there was something wrong with me, and since no one talks about it, it reinforced that this was just me.
Then when I began verbalizing in self loathing comments I remember my mother saying something to the effect of, “Well, as a mother, we are always guilty of something?!?!” BOOM! What what?!?!?
Omg that was it! I felt GUILTY, like all the time. No matter what decision I made, it wasn’t good enough or it wasn’t right and everyone has an opinion on what you should do when you are pregnant and post partum. The world spews at you what you “should and shouldn’t do”.
So here are some examples of guilty thoughts I had while I was pregnant. I should be doing more. Wait, no I should rest more. I need to go to work to save my sick days but I don’t feel good. I should plan to have a natural birth, but I am scared it will hurt! Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. Good old double bind, but all the time.
Then the baby was born it was a WAVE of what I now have identified as “mommy guilt” or “caregiver guilt” (inclusive of all genders that are main caregivers).
I should be able to take care of the baby by myself and I can’t.
I can’t get the baby to stop crying. I am doing something wrong.
I want to take a shower alone but the baby needs me.
and on and on and on….
No one prepared me for this. I did not know what was going on. I thought many times that I just wasn’t supposed to be a mom. Maybe I was too selfish to care for anyone else because I was always wanting for myself and that was wrong?!!?! Right?!?! To have needs right?!? I'm a mom! I’m super human! We run on coffee and dry shampoo! We have no needs.
Then I would see glimmers of mommy guilt in my friends. Now these are kick ass moms. You know the ones where it looks so easy, where they are always prepared with bags of snacks and toys. Then I realized something when I started talking to them. They were so incredibly hard on themselves. I could see that no matter what they did it wasn’t enough. It never was and they were so tired so damned tired.
Oh mom guilt! What’s crazy about you is you guilt us into not talking about it and then it only perpetuates the guilt and feeling of being alone. But shut the front door! Since when did sleep, food, exercise and rest become something that any human doesn’t need, especially a human that is caring for another human! The mom that gives it her all, all the time and has nothing left for herself. Let me tell you something. Something that once I realized it, I have been able to manage the monster of mommy guilt. Is it gone completely? hahah No! Absolutely not! But it is not in control anymore.
Here it is. Are you ready?
How you care for yourself ultimately is the one of the biggest lesson that you will EVER show your kids.
Ok, now don’t feel guilty about not taking care of yourself.
Take what I just said, sit with it, think about it and let it empower you.
Empower you to show your kids what boundaries are. How advocating for your own needs is so, so important. How sleep, healthy eating, alone time, exercise are all important parts of life. I know it’s not always easy and life happens but strive for it. The more you achieve your own self care the more you will be able to pour into those around you!
You know what one of the top three predictors for you child’s mental health from an early age is? The ability to be independent. Independence means that your child has a secure attachment to you and is learning in the world. Learning to make good and bad choices, exploring, figuring things out. Let them be independent. Let them see your independence, how much you value yourself and are unapologetic about it.
So what does that look like in the real world? Ok, here’s some examples of things I have LET GO of and decided that guilt isn’t running this household anymore.
Now everyones situation is different but here’s what works for me! Judge if you must, but realize that says more about you than me :) HEY! love ya!
My child orders school lunches ( I absolutely hate this and felt all the guilt before. Now I make sure he has a good healthy breakfast and dinner and I let lunch be crap, because it helps alot to not have to worry about that)
My child makes some of his own meals. I buy prepared meats or prepares a lot of meat on the weekend and then he eats it for days. I am not a on call short order cook.
He folds his own clothes, takes care of his room, takes care of the cat, takes the trash out and washes dishes.
I order my groceries online saves me lots of time.
My workouts are a priority Just like he has a sport, so do I, and I need it, and don’t compromise on making sure I go 3-5 times a week.
I have a bedtime. My time in my room to decompress. Once it’s 10:00, I’m not helping anyone with anything. I”m done.
I have a cleaning lady, but then I can keep things organized because I have time to do so.
I have help after school two days a week so that I can concentrate on work some evenings. But I get to drop him off every morning and most afternoons.
Sometimes he carpools for practices, but then prioritize games.
I give myself time outs, when I become upset or need a min.
I watch my own shows sometimes not everything with him.
In return when I am with him I am working on being very present and engaged. Its often quality over quantity.
Basically, I am my own human being. I am an adult. My hope for him is that he will have a good example of how to be an adult when he’s older. I do not want my child to end up feeling the need to fix and or completely care for anyone else. I want him to be caring, but not co dependent. I want him to love a strong woman who is his equal, so I need to show him what that looks like. If he’s used to me caring for his every need, then what have I taught him? That a women’s role is to care for you, and also that he’s not competent to care for himself.
Ultimately, as a parent, society will tell us to feel guilty about everything and anything. Are there things that you absolutely need to do for your kids? YES. But when it comes down to it, being a martyr for your child does not help them or you in the long run. It doesn’t show them their value, and strength nor does it nourish yours
Put your oxygen mask on first, because then and only then can you help others around you!
ALL THE LOVE,