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Mom Guilt is a Liar

Let’s talk about mom guilt for a minute.

Mom Guilt is real. It crops up slowly during our pregnancy. First, the twinge of anger we feel about the CONSTANT nausea. The final trimester yearning for that long awaited guess-date- wanting to hold your baby in your arms, but also wanting to “get your body back”. Losing yourself. Feeling alien in your own body. Frustration with your suddenly swollen cankles. Wanting that extra cup of coffee. Dreaming about a glass of wine. Sushi. Heartburn. Damnit! You forgot to take your prenatals again.

But… But pregnancy is glorious. It’s beautiful!

You are growing a human being! You can WATCH him move inside of you. Your hair looks magnificent. You glow. And you are so, so incredibly grateful to be carrying and growing a healthy baby inside of you, because there are so many women out there who couldn’t. Or want to. Who can’t.

And this AMAZING mix of emotions boils down to one specific feeling that grows in your gut and grips your heart until sometimes you can’t breathe right. Mom Guilt. How is it possible to feel all these feelings at the same time? To love and sometimes quietly resent something so beautiful and wanted? And you can’t talk about the mom guilt that quietly crops out of nowhere and threatens to eat you alive. After all, who in the world wouldn’t judge you for feeling so… inadequate as a mother? Ungrateful. Not good enough.

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That feeling that you fight in the pit of your stomach that threatens to rise in your gut like bile- that’s mom guilt. And it’s a liar.

But just because you know in your head that something isn’t true, doesn’t mean you don’t feel it in your heart.

Then, your baby is born. Total, complete love and admiration for this tiny human. YOU BUILT THIS. And you’re exhausted. And your house is a mess. Then you can’t balance your work life. You just want to be with baby. Until you don’t, and then for-the-love-of-god-please-I-need-a-break. You didn’t get your body back. It’s not yours, it will never be yours again (at least, not the way you think.) And how in the world can you feel these feelings? I mean, you just had the honor of growing and birthing the most perfectly tiny human imaginable. So you can’t talk about it. Not to your mom. Your husband. Your friends would shun you. Mom Guilt.

As your children grow, your love for them does, too. (How is that even possible?)

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Your kids are beautiful, smart, strong willed, funny… brilliant children. They fight you when they aren’t clinging to you. They need you even when they want to do it themselves. Balance. Guilt. You find yourself yelling more than you want. You eat cereal for dinner way too often. You secretly dread spring break because oh my god how did we get through this before school started? But you can’t say it. So you stuff your mom guilt down. You do your best. It’s a quiet monster living inside of you that is fed by silence and your constant drive to be a better mom.

Here is the secret, mom, that your your mom guilt doesn’t want you to know.

Whether you are trying your best, or you’re feeling at your worst- even when the guilt is eating you alive- you are still a good mom. Say it with me now:

You. Are. A. Good. Mom.

Wanting an identity of your own, some space- it doesn’t make you a bad mom. In fact, maybe, it makes you a good mom. Yelling at your kids, losing your temper, letting the laundry sit piled up- running through the McDonald’s drive thru again– this makes you human. It makes you REAL. You are fallible. You make mistakes, you fix them, you love your kids. You, lady, are a good mom.

Your guilt. It means you care. It means you’re trying your best to find the balance between parenthood and womanhood. Between being someone’s and being your own. But most of all, it lies to you. It tells you that you aren’t good enough. That you should be better, you should be doing more. When your toddler has a meltdown, your baby won’t stop crying, you aren’t producing enough milk, or your school-ager talks back in public- Mom Guilt tells you that this is your fault, that it’s a slight on your parenting.

But let me tell you a secret about Babies and Kids:

They’re kind of assholes. Now hear me out, because there is a reason. They aren’t necessarily to blame. And neither are you. Kids, while they are deserving of the respect of adults, do not have the brain development to be able the check themselves when they are seconds from melting down in the middle of Target. A child’s brain undergoes an amazing period of development from birth to three—producing more than a million neural connections each second. That is one busy toddler brain.

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As far as impulse control and emotional regulation- kids have a long way to go from where we as grown ups are.

For the most part, though, from birth to 3 years, children rely heavily on parents and
caregivers to help them control their emotions and behavior. Three to 6 years marks a renaissance period in the development of self-control, including the abilities to control
impulses, shift attention from one thing to another, and wait for a reward. Self-control skills
continue to develop throughout childhood and adolescence. The brain regions involved in self-control are immature at birth and are not fully mature until the end of adolescence, which helps to explain why developing self-control is such a long, slow process. (source)
Adolescence!! And by then…. well let’s just not get into the raging hormones.

My point is… kids melt down.

They mess up. They’re curious. And research after research shows that the best thing we can do for that development is give them face time. That’s it. So don’t let society or mom guilt pressure you into feeling like you’re inadequate just because your child’s brain is still developing. Chances are, if you are reading this, feeling guilty… CARE about your children- then you are doing a great job.
Mom- your guilt- it lies to you. It lies about who you are, who your kids are, what kind of spouse, parent, employee (or boss!) you are. Mom Guilt tells you that you can’t balance it all, have it all, and you most certainly are neglecting someone in this juggling act that you perform every day.

The truth is, you ARE enough. You have enough. And you’re doing a great job.

We don’t hear it enough. I never thought I was the type of woman who needed validation from others, but it turns out- I am apparently the kind of mom who does. Because I allow my parenting skills to become riddled with self doubt, I need someone to tell me, “Hey- I think you’re a great mom.”
And you don’t have someone in your life who validates that need, find a squad. Or better yet, watch your children, and how much they need and love and copy you. When mom guilt lies, God knows, kids always tell the truth.

 

 

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