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Where does the “Mom Guilt” come from?

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Now that I am a mom of two under two, I feel the “mom guilt” more than ever.

I have to nurse the baby and can’t play with the toddler, the TV comes on to “entertain” my little fella… guilt. Too much TV.

I have to tend to the toddler who just fell down and hurt himself but the infant is screaming at the top of her lungs because she is starving… double guilt. Toddler fell down while I wasn’t watching him, why wasn’t I watching?! The infant is hungry but I can’t get there fast enough.

I had to pump a bottle for the infant so that Dad could be the one to feed her so I could have a break… guilt. I shouldn’t NOT want to feed my baby.

I could keep going and going but I’m sure you get the idea. Every day it seems I do something in my mommy routine that I feel guilty about or that I feel like a terrible mother for doing. I’m tired of feeling this way.

I don’t know about you but every single day I am doing the very best I can. There are times where I mom the crap out the day and I feel empowered and confident. But then there are days where everything is going a rye and I’m treading water trying to manage it all. These are the days where the guilt creeps in.

I’m not sure why because all I’m doing is what I feel is best at the time to either put out a fire or to make a hectic situation less. I’m not harming anyone or doing anything that is bad for anyone’s well-being. So why do I feel guilty for it. Why do I crucify myself for actively mothering?

Why can’t I just say, “Yeah, I do turn on the TV sometimes so that my toddler will be entertained while I get some things done.” It’s no big deal. He’s watching a show that is age-appropriate and he is happy and content.

Why can’t I just be okay that I need a break from mothering from time to time and whether that break comes from letting Dad give baby her bottle or even if I need to step away for a little bit to take a few deep breaths and have a moment of silence. What’s the harm in that?

I have a theory. I feel like we are constantly comparing ourselves to a “type” of mom that we think we need to be. Maybe we’ve seen the mystical being out in public walking amongst the mortals. You know, the mom at Target looking effortlessly put together with her two perfect kids minding their p’s and q’s. You don’t know her, but you make believe that she has a perfect life and is a perfect mom and you look down at your mix-matched outfit with spit up still on your shirt that you forgot to change before leaving the house, your hair in a messy pony-tail, your toddler screaming because you won’t give him the matchbox car he spotted, and your infant is starting to stir and you left the house without her bottle.

Then there is the internet chalk full of information about how you should be mothering. You have gone green, right? You do only feed your family the most expensive organic food on the market, right? Your kids do eat kale instead of candy and actually like it, right? You make your own baby food, cloth diaper, go to play dates, belong to mommy groups, had your toddler potty trained in three days, can curb a tantrum in no time flat, your kids never watch mindless TV, and you’re skinnier than you were before having kids, right?!?!?!?

Of course I’m being dramatic and there is nothing wrong with any of the things I listed above, my point is just that we are trying so hard to do so many things at once that if we can’t do them all we are left feeling like a failure.

It’s time we give ourselves a break. Motherhood (much like life in general) is comprised of a series of choices and we make these choices based on what is best for us, our children, and our family as a whole. Everything I do as a mother is done with great care and consideration even if the task is simple.

I’m going to make mistakes and I may make a choice here and there based solely on getting through the day and not based on perfection.

The guilt has to stop! Who’s with me?!? It won’t be easy. We care too much about being a great mother that going easy on ourselves will take some work. But I know we can do it. We deserve it and I bet we will be happier for it.

So remember to give yourself a break and in case no one has told you this yet today… You’re doing a great job!

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber Johnson March 19, 2013

    I think we all suffering from mom guilt in one form or another. The juggling was particularly difficult when they were little but now that mine are getting older, it’s still there. I try to remind myself that I can’t be something to everyone at all times. And there are some things I am great at as a mom and others aren’t my cup of tea.

    • comment avatar Kendra March 19, 2013

      I love your attitude! I think admitting to ourselves that we rock at some things and just aren’t great at others is better than feeling like we are failing somehow. 🙂

  • comment avatar Amy March 19, 2013

    We’ve all been there. I have 3 girls in 3.5 years.

    First: tend to the toddler first – he/she knows you are ignoring them, the infant doesn’t.

    Second: learn to nurse on one side and read a book with your toddler with the other hand. Include him/her as much as possible.

    Third: Your toddler does not need the radar attention that you give them… when my third came, I had a 3 and 2 year old, and you simply CAN’T watch them all, all the time, and frankly, they don’t need it. My third girl is wonderfully independent because she didn’t get the radar attention that the others did. She’s better off for it.

    Fourth: Siblings are a GIFT. It’s hard at first, thinking you ruined your first born’s life because you can’t give them everything.. but just wait… when you hear them playing together and giggling while you can sneak away for ten minutes, it is BEAUTIFUL.

    I went through the same thing. It’s difficult at first, days are really really LONG, but it is SO worth it – having siblings is wonderful for any child. It’s an amazing gift & blessing. Extend yourself alot of grace right now, and ask for help if you need it, realize nobody expects you to do it all, except maybe you. Do the best you can, be positive, and get through each day.

    • comment avatar Kendra March 19, 2013

      Amy,
      Thanks for the helpful tips! I agree that siblings are a gift. 🙂

    • comment avatar Tiffany March 19, 2013

      Amy, thank you so much! Your words and attitude are exactly what this mom of a 2 year old and a 2 month old needed to hear.

  • comment avatar Susan March 20, 2013

    We’ve all been there. I think finding girlfriends who you can be honest with (and who will be honest in return) really helps. I truly believe that it’s exactly as you describe for most of us. I think gals who say that it’s a breeze could be lying or deluding themselves 😉

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