Dear Mom Guilt,
I hate the way you show up during happy times. I hate the way you keep me up at night. I hate the way you can feel so constant, like a state of being.
I feel guilty when I take time for myself and feed the parts of myself outside of my motherhood role. And I feel guilty when I become angry and resentful because I didn’t take the time. Why does it often feel like there is no winning?
I feel guilty when I lay in bed at night and think of the never ending list of “shoulds” that consume me during these quiet hours when what I really SHOULD be doing is sleeping. Why do you torture me so?
I feel guilty when I am not confident in my decisions as a mother. This job came with no training, guide, or built in supports. I often find myself scrabbling and unsure if I did that the right way. Why do you make me feel so inadequate?
I feel guilty when I see the way others moms are doing it. I see the Pinterest mom doing all the fun activities, crafts, and sensory bins and think how much fun that must be for her children. I see the mom that volunteers for all the school activities and I wish I had the time. I see the mom who is always put together and in beautiful trendy clothes and wonder when I’m going to retire my maternity leggings that I haven’t needed for a year now. Why do you get me stuck in the comparison trap?
I feel guilty when the load becomes too heavy and I have to ask for help. The kids, the meals, the schoolwork, the schedules, the shopping, the planning, the laundry, the cleaning, the work, the marriage, the time for myself, the breastfeeding/pumping, the animals, and the million other things I feel as though I am juggling and struggling to keep in the air. Why do you make me feel like such a burden?
I feel guilty when I don’t show up the right way for my children. I feel guilty when I have the mommy meltdown, when I get angry, or when I yell. I feel guilty when I lack the patience they need, when I’m too tired for the connection their feelings are asking for, or when I am touched out. Why do you shame me for being human?
I feel guilty and often feel like I can’t share how I feel, that I need help, or that I don’t know what I am doing. Why do you make me isolate myself?
Sometimes when I am feeling the weight of mom guilt I question the time I spend with my children, the choices I am making, my ability to properly fill this role, and if I’ll ever be enough.
And mom guilt, I have to be real with you…
YOU ARE A LIAR.
I have to tell you, I am a good mom.
I do not always do it right, but I know when to apologize and how to repair.
I do not always take the time I need for myself, but I am trying to do better.
I do not always feel confident as a mother, but I know neither does the Pinterest mom or the mom that looks like she has it all together.
I do not always check the boxes that I feel like I should be, but I know I am doing what I can and I know that I am enough.
I do not always ask for help easily, but I know my helpers truly want to help and I am not a burden.
I do not always admit when I am struggling, but when I do connection happens and I never regret it.
I’m done with you mom guilt.
You do not serve me.
I know I make mistakes, but I also know I am not my mistakes. My mistakes make me human and allow for teachable moments with my little ones. I hope they never feel shamed for being imperfect people.
I’m done with the negative self-talk storm you bring upon me. I’m done spiraling in your web. I’m done feeling like there is something wrong with me.
I honor your intent, and I can value the good you are attempting to bring, but I am letting the guilt pass. Thank you for signaling that action wasn’t in line with the mama values I hold for myself, but the mental smack down does not help me do better.
Mom guilt, I often find myself wondering where you came from. Why are you so loud?
I look at the long list of things I am doing as a mother, the good in my children, and the ways I am honoring my values as a person and mother, and I just don’t always feel like you are in line.
It doesn’t match up.
And then I reflect on the creation and the evolution of my inner critic. The little girl inside of me has a lot of healing to do, huh.
The years of never feeling good enough and never hearing words of affirmations in my early childhood is where this feeling was born.
And it continued to grow as I transformed into an independent person and the shaming from my family of origin grew. The silent treatment that came if you made a choice that was honoring yourself and not pleasing the others, it was confusing to navigate. Do I honor who I am or please who they are?
Mom guilt, I am healing my inner critic. The story of not being good enough wasn’t true back then and it most certainly isn’t true now.
Mom guilt, I just want you to know, I am both grateful for you and over you.
Thank you for shining light on the pieces of myself that still need healing. A healthy mommy is something I value for my little ones, and these burdens are never ones I want them to shoulder.
Thank you for steering me in the directions I want to be, and helping me to do better.
Mom guilt, I welcome you to stop by and say hey, but you are no longer welcome to stay. I welcome you to give me a nudge, but you will no longer shake me and smack me around.
I’ll see you next time you pass through,
But next time, I’ll be showing up with more self-compassion, curiosity, and intention.
Mom guilt, I’m doing better, thanks to you.