Oh mom guilt…the fun result of societal pressure to be a perfect “Leave it to Beaver” mom! If you don’t have kids you may roll your eyes at this post, deeming it ridiculous, but trust me this is a real thing. As a non-stay at home mom who struggled constantly with breastfeeding, I’ve always felt like the cards were stacked against me. So what is mom guilt? First, you need to understand the definition of guilt…
Guilt: a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc,. whether real or imagined.
Guilt is a funny thing because sometimes it’s truly made up in our head or guilt can be a real thing brought on by your own actions. To me mom guilt is a mixture of both perception and reality. The perfect storm of what others actually think and what you think they are thinking.
I’m actually fairly good at pulling myself out of those “mom guilt” thoughts that are all in my head and not at all what others are actually thinking, but, I know so many mommies that have allowed perceived “mom guilt” thoughts to totally take over their lives. However, just because I can control my own negative thoughts, most of the time, that doesn’t mean I’m immune to all those statements I’ve heard since I got pregnant (everyone from family, to strangers, to the media). Here are the top 5 “mom guilt” topics that definitely eat at my soul:
1. Breastfeeding– oh yeah this one is #1 for me because not only is it something I personally felt immense “mom guilt” for, I know so many mommies that have felt this one as well!! I swear if I heard “Breast is Best!” once I heard it a million freaking times. It annoyed the shit out of me (excuse my language)! My best friend said it best when she proclaimed “it shouldn’t be breast is best it should be FED is best!” My child was tongue tied at birth and breastfeeding was a constant struggle. Finally I gave up on the whole thing and turned to pumping just to make sure he was getting breast milk because I had been smacked around by so many doctors and nosey strangers about how important it was to breastfeed that I was petrified that if I quit I’d be a failure of a mom, not to mention setting my child up for a life of illness and mental issues! Listen, we all need to stop pushing our ideals on new moms there’s enough pressure as it is. Breastfeeding is a great thing but let’s cut those moms some slack if it doesn’t come easy to them or if they just plain don’t want to do it. One of the happiest days within that first year of my sons life was the day I was able to stop pumping at month 6! However, I still got comments like this, “But don’t you want to breastfeed till he’s a year?” Yes, you nosey ass women I would love too but I work full time, my child doesn’t latch, so I’ve actually been pumping then feeding him (so basically I’m doubling the whole feeding process), my boobs hurt, I feel like a dairy cow every time I strap into that pump machine and I cannot keep up with his appetite so I’m already having to supplement, so why don’t you mind your own business (no I never said this out loud to anyone but this is what I was thinking in my head as I smiled back kindly to these judgy people)!! This segways perfectly into my next favorite “mom guilt” topic…
2. Being a working mom– guess what some women don’t want to be stay at home momma’s! Some families don’t have the means to allow for one parent to stay home with their child(ren). Do I have moments where I fantasize about quitting my job and staying home with my son? Yes, but to be honest it has a whole lot more to do with just wanting to sleep in, wear leggings all day and take naps then it does with wanting to be a stay at home mommy. I love my job. I love that I get to travel for my job. But I hate that when I go to work, or travel, and I don’t immediately miss my child (or husband) that I’m suddenly a horrible heartless person. By nature I’m an introvert, which means I recharge when I’m alone, so solo traveling or shutting myself away for some me time is something I enjoy and need in order to stay sane. **I’m actually traveling now and I’ve had multiple moments where I felt immense guilt because I wasn’t painstakingly missing my family!** Now don’t get me wrong the second I see my son or husband I am like a puppy who just saw their owners car pull into the drive, that’s how excited I get, I’m absolutely head over heels in love with them both, but up until that point missing my family is more of an afterthought (seriously just saying that makes me wonder if I’m some sort of soulless monster, queue that perceived mom guilt thought). If you are a working mommy or a mom that loves to take vacations away from the family you are not alone! Don’t feel guilty for enjoying your life outside of being a mom and wife. Personally I think it’s healthy…having an identity outside of my child, or husband, is something I cherish because it makes me a better mom and wife when I am wearing that hat!
3. Having only 1 child– now this wasn’t always the plan for me and I’d be lying if I didn’t drop some comments in my adult life about how awful I thought it was when people chose to only have 1 kid (or gasp not have children at all!!) but life likes to make you eat your foot and I’ve definitely stopped guilting people who only want 1 child. I’ve also stopped guilting people who don’t want kids (however, if my son doesn’t give me at least one grandchild, preferably a granddaughter, I’m gonna lose it hahaha) because I would rather you not bring a child into this world if you don’t want one! Bless the persons heart that told me, about a month ago, that my son was going to be a spoiled brat if we didn’t give him a sibling. They are so lucky I didn’t just slap them across the face, instead I smiled and nicely told them that having more babies isn’t in Gods plan for our family (while under my breath telling them to keep their opinions to themselves).
4. Disciplining your child (or not)– oh this one is great because it’s a complete double edged sword, you really can’t win. If you spank you are a horrible person scaring your child for life but if you don’t discipline your child you are a pushover who allows your child to run the show. I get it spanking isn’t the only way to discipline a child and I’ve had internal struggles about spanking and how to make my stubborn, strong willed, toddler understand that he’s in trouble. I feel like people are constantly on the lookout for misbehaving children and how their parents will chose to discipline them…I mean how many times have you heard someone make a comment about how a parent is (or isn’t) disciplining their little(s)?? This is something I’ve always tried to not do because unless an adult is actually abusing a child I feel it’s not my place to tell another ADULT how to discipline THEIR child. Here’s a great example of this…my son is very strong willed and while I know this behavior will mature and it’ll help him be a strong successful adult it’s a frustrating personality trait in a toddler, especially a toddler that isn’t as verbally advanced as others. Anyways, I spoil him a little too much, which probably doesn’t help my case if I’m being honest, and our normal Target routine involves a trip to the toy section to look at the Power Rangers toddler toys. Now, they have been slowly clearing them out and when we went down the toy isle that day there were no more Power Ranger toys. Well try explaining that to a 2 year old…he was pissed! I told him multiple times to relax and started making my way to the checkout stand dodging the “perceived” judging eyes of everyone around me as my toddler screamed “Look at Power Rangers stuff!!” over and over again while jumping up and down in the big part of the cart! Then the next thing I know a large box of yogurt covered raisins I had put in the cart for his snacks hits me in my face…in shock I look at my son who’s now standing in the cart glaring at me. What’s the first thing that pops into my head? I should throw those raisins back at his face and see how he likes it, or I should drag him out of Target by his ear and give his butt a good swatting (because let’s be honest that’s what would’ve happened to me if I’d done that to my parent/grandparent, oh how times have changed). But instead I looked around, smiled at the lady watching me out of the corner of her eye, curtly told him we’d now be leaving and to stop screaming, pushed my cart full of groceries out of the way (sorry to whoever had to put all my stuff back) and hauled my kicking and screaming toddler out of Target all while wearing a smile that probably made me look like a psychopath. Moral of this story is I had so many moments during that short 5 min toddler meltdown experience where I was so overcome by mom guilt I could barely think straight!
5. Feeding your Toddler– oh God, you mean once I’m done breastfeeding I still have to feel guilty about feeding my child??? WTF!! I mean really, if my child isn’t under or over weight and has at least one solid, semi balanced, meal a day why do I need you guilting me over the fact that he decided “Loops” (Fruit Loops) was a good dinner choice?? Have you ever forced a toddler to eat? No, then shut up because it’s like forcing a feral cat to cuddle with you, chances are good you aren’t going to come out on top! My sons pediatrician is a saint and constantly puts my mind at ease about his growth patterns, his low percentile weight and the fact that he has gained all of 1 pound in the last 18 months (he grows like a bad weed). He said that if my child is hungry, he’ll eat, and as long as we are getting at least one balanced meal in him a day we really shouldn’t agonize about the other meals. I’m lucky that my pediatrician is so calming because I know a lot of parents who don’t have that and are constantly in a state of panic over their child’s diet. Now would I like it if my toddler ate more veggies? Definitely, but considering my husband is repulsed by anything green (it’s sort of an exaggeration but not really) and I’m not the biggest veggies person, I’m not all that surprised by his aversion to them. If you have a toddler that will eat anything and everything just know I’m slightly jealous, however, if I’ve learned anything from being a mom it’s that no toddler is perfect and they all have their qualms.
So there it is all the mom guilt thoughts that just grind my gears and make me want to scream. Also I want to make sure that you all know that these are my own opinion and are in no means being put out there to mom guilt you…if you love being a stay at home mom that’s awesome, if you are still breastfeeding your 3 year old hats off to you, if you have 0, 1 or 7 kids I commend you, whether you spank or not that’s your personal choice, and if your child is an amazing non-picky eater well remember I’m kind of jealous!! Oh and to all the dads out there sorry for leaving you out but I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to be a dad in today’s society and I’m sure you all face equally annoying moments of “dad guilt”.