I never understood mom guilt until I had Stella and it hit me square in the face when I had to leave her with my parents for the day to look at cars with Dustin, she was three months old and it was the longest I had ever been away from her. Why is it so hard to step away for a few hours even when you know grandma and grandpa are doting over your precious little one? I remember being the one to find it odd when my friends with kids had a hard time going to get their hair done, or leaving their child even if only for a couple hours with their significant other. You’re already with your baby so much, what’s one or a few hours here and there? Well, I get it.
This post is a bit of a mind-dump just a heads up!
I have gotten to a point where I still feel mom guilt on the daily, but I just let it be a part of how I feel. It’s normal to want to make your child homemade meals three times a day with fresh organic produce and hand-squeezed orange juice. Wanting to set up activities 5 days a week and keep a packed schedule in order to pack all of the social interaction and knowledge into their tiny growing brains. It’s normal to want the best for your baby, and to bend over backward to give them everything. I would love to do that, but often motherhood means just making it through the day. It’s normal, and it’s okay! Feeling a twinge of guilt here and there shows that you are paying enough attention to care. It means you are aware of how you’re acting and parenting and it’s completely 100% normal.
Lately, I’ve been feeling a different kind of mom guilt. As my baby grows into a toddler, I’m reliving the past (almost) two years and wishing I had held her more, or bed-shared longer, nursed longer, spent more time with her instead of taking up a weekend job for a few months, etc. I wish I had held her more as a newborn. The list goes on. I was with her almost 24/7 and I still am, which is an experience that many mother’s don’t get these days, yet I still feel guilt for the silliest things! I know I’ve given her all that I can and I continue to do so on a daily basis. I don’t need to feel guilt, but I do and it’s there and it will remain.
For my entire life I have understood the fact that guilt is a choice. Whether or not I chose to feel it is another story, but becoming a mom has shown me that there’s no deeper connection than the relationship of a mother and a child - the guilt that goes along with sometimes not being 100% ON can be at points hard to deal with. I know I am a perfectionist and hard on myself in more ways than one. Becoming a mom has been a strange phenomenon for me because what it takes to be a “perfect” mom is so opposite of the success equation that I was previously familiar with. Being a “perfect” mom means not showering so you can sleep in an extra hour because you were up until 3am tirelessly rocking your baby who refused to sleep. It means leaving a messy house and piles of laundry so you can sit on the floor for hours stacking blocks and practicing the ABC’s. Being a “perfect” mom also means taking care of yourself so that you can be the best form of yourself, and the best example for your growing child. It means spending a moment to do your makeup if it makes you feel better and more confident. Clean up the kitchen and sit down for a moment to check your email or text messages, your kiddo will be fine playing in the bouncer or sitting on the floor with some books. I struggle with feeling like I need to be directly with my daughter 24/7. She is such an independent and confident toddler, she is okay to play on her own for a few minutes while I take some me time, and I will admit it makes me feel a little guilty, but then I remember that I could sit there and stare at her for 15 minutes or take that time to keep my mental sanity in-tact and set myself up for success. Sometimes I choose to sit and stare at her, and sometimes I choose to take a moment for myself.
Parenting is hard and guilt can often make it harder, just remember that when you take care of YOU, you’re taking care of your little one too.