“Motherhood often feels like a game of guilt management. Sometimes the guilt is overwhelming and debilitating. Sometimes just a low simmer, but it always feels right there. There is never any shortage of fuel to feed the beast, so the whole mechanism is constantly nourished to administer shame and a general feeling of incompetency. Add our carefully curated social media world, which not only affects our sense of success and failure, but also furnishes our children with an unprecedented brand of expectations, and BOOM – we’re the generation that does more for our kids than ever in history yet feels the guiltiest. Virtually every one of my friends provides more than they had growing up, and still the mantra we buy into is ‘not enough, not enough, not enough.’ Meanwhile, if we developed the chops to tune out the ordinary complaints of children, we’d see mostly happy kids, loved and nurtured, cared for and treasured.” ~ Jen Hatmaker, Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life
You know what my biggest struggle with mom guilt is? My biggest struggle with mom guilt is that it refuses to listen to reason. It wants nothing to do with logic.
I have a full intellectual understanding of why I shouldn’t feel guilty.
I understand that I work so that my child can have the better quality of life that comes with 2 sources of income. I understand that the time I spend with my child in the evenings is his and his alone. Between 5pm and 8pm you will not catch me on the phone or anywhere else because I am busy being Nate’s mum. It is our quality time.
I understand that I “do the most,” perhaps even the unnecessary, with making my own baby food because I want to be sure of what I am putting into his little body. I understand that he is hitting his milestones on time and his Mom & Baby Clinic Nurse takes great delight in announcing how much of a textbook mum and baby we are. I understand that he is a very happy, healthy baby. I understand that while my husband or I could run out of shower gel or anti-perspirant, he wants for nothing because I live in the Dischem baby aisle and in Baby City anticipating his every need. I understand that I give him all of my weekends. He is my accessory to everywhere on the weekend. I love spending that time with him. I understand that I drop everything else on any day of the week if he needs me for any reason. I understand that I am yet to miss an appointment for anything. I understand a lot more.
I also understand that my well-being is important too because I can’t pour from an empty cup. I understand that this means eating well and exercising. I understand that I am my best self when I exercise. I understand that I love my job and I enjoy doing it. I understand that I am entitled to my career. I understand that I am working mom and this comes at a trade-off of sorts.
All of it adds up to understanding on an intellectual level that I am a good mum. I am doing the very best I can with what I have at my disposal.
So please tell me why I feel so much guilt in general? Why am I feeling crippling guilt now because I have decided to take an hour out of every other day to workout? Why am I sitting at my desk trying to convince myself that I am not “stealing” baba’s time? Why do I have a lump in my chest every time I think of my running kit waiting for me in the boot of my car? Why are my heart and mind engaged in a death match to decide whether I am a good mum or a selfish mum?
This mom guilt is a b****