No amount of guilt can change the past and no amount of worrying can change the future.
~ Orebela Gbenga
So, what is mommy guilt? Every mom reading this can answer that question. It is the feeling in the pit of your stomach tugging at you convincing you that you should be doing something you are not. It is a feeling of inadequacy, not measuring up. It is a feeling of fear that you’re not doing what is best for your children. (When you probably are.) Mommy guilt rears its ugly head in many shapes and forms.
When my first born was just 8 weeks old, I went back to work outside my home. I had mommy guilt. I felt like I shouldn’t leave him for so long with someone else when he was so little. Even though, I interviewed and interviewed nanny candidates to ensure the best care for him, the guilt of leaving him with someone else penetrated my heart. While I worked outside of the home, I was insane. I pumped milk during every break so that my baby wouldn’t ever have to drink formula. You’d think this would cancel the guilt. It didn’t.
Later, I was fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom with my children. I was elated. We reclaimed our family time. Then, it happened. Mommy guilt set in. I felt guilt for not having more money to indulge them in all the material things I had done so freely when I had a steady income. I felt guilt wondering if they were exposed to enough activities. I felt guilt that I wasn’t doing enough. I felt guilt wondering how to live up to society’s supermom standards, because I wasn’t. I felt guilt when I yelled at my children. After all, I wanted to build their esteem not shred it with my hollering. Guilt, guilt, guilt.
Guilt ran through my veins and oozed out my pores. Guilt taunted my mind. All moms have it, mommy guilt, but we don’t have to keep it. We can kiss mommy guilt goodbye. Let’s wrangle it and put it to death. Here’s how:
1. Stop Comparing & Start Cultivating
This is huge. I stopped looking around at other moms comparing myself to them. Instead, I keep a journal with a running list of goals for my children, my life, and my family. Then, I create a systematic plan to cultivate the traits that I want in my children. By having a plan, I am too busy working the plan to feel guilt about what I might not be doing. I kick mommy guilt in the bu** by taking action cultivating what I want most for my children. The rest just doesn’t matter.
2. Progress Not Perfection
My natural bend is toward perfection even though I know, logically, it isn’t possible. I still strive for it. This bend sent me over the edge emotionally, because no one can achieve it or live up to it. I have the words: Progress Not Perfection taped to my refrigerator as a constant reminder to enjoy the journey, and that each step toward a goal is progress. As a mom, I won’t be able to “do it all”. To avoid being overwhelmed, I prioritize what is important to our family. I focus on the goals that I’ve set for each area of my life and with my children, and day by day I progress imperfectly toward them.
3. Focus On What You Can Do
“All that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
Just being available for our children is a gift to them. Abraham Lincoln’s mother was poor; he taught himself to read. He wasn’t enrolled in little league sports. I bet his mom didn’t have mommy guilt because she was too busy loving him and making ends meet.
For me, I say goodbye to mommy guilt by focusing on what I am for my children and can do for them. I can make sure we eat dinner together, even if it is peanut butter sandwiches sometimes. I can read to them. I can tuck them in at night. Say to yourself, “I’m great because I can…” Fill in the blank. Focus on what you can do and say goodbye to mommy guilt.’
4. Be Thankful
Instead of dwelling on the misfortunes of yesterday or just a few minutes ago, be grateful for the power of today or the power of now. An attitude of gratitude melts the mommy guilt away.
5. Focus On All You Are Instead Of What You’re Not
I saw this quote that summed it all up.
“Just a mom?? I can’t stand it when people say, ‘You’re just a mom?’ Yes, I am a mom! That makes me an alarm clock, cook, maid, waitress, teacher, nurse, referee, handyman, security officer, photographer, counselor, personal assistant, event planner, chauffeur, hairdresser, cheerleader, ATM, and so much more. I scare away the boogie man. I don’t get paid holidays, sick pay, or days off. I work day and night. I am on call 24/7 for the rest of my life. That’s being just a mom. I may not be anything to you but just a mom, but I am everything to someone. I’m a mom.”
As moms, we are tenderhearted and amazing. We love our children and will do anything for them. So, remember to stop comparing yourself to others, give yourself a hug, set goals and work toward them, and say goodbye to mommy guilt forever.
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