If you’re a Mama, have you ever experienced “Mom Guilt?” Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker, for PsychCentral, says guilt is a “thinking emotion,” and that if you’re experiencing guilt over something you’re actually doing wrong, the feeling serves to alert you to it, and motivate you to become more intentional about your choices, thereby improving your parenting. That’s a useful kind of guilt. That’s not Mom Guilt.
If you’re experiencing guilt over things you’re doing (or not doing) as a mother that aren’t wrong, and that you shouldn’t be feeling guilty about, but you’re feeling guilty anyway, because… well, you’re a mom? That’s not a useful kind of guilt. That’s Mom Guilt.
And this experience of misplaced or unnecessary guilt seems to be common for all kinds of moms. Moms who make totally different choices (stay at home moms, working moms, working-from-home moms, etc.), in spite of all the differences in their lifestyles and choices, are all united by the shared experience of Mom Guilt.
Here, some moms share their thoughts on Mom Guilt…
Lauren Cormier, for Scary Mommy, says “before I had kids, [Mom Guilt] was just a phrase to roll my eyes at. After I had kids, it became a living entity with the ability to eat me alive if I wasn’t careful. Before I had kids, I’d feel guilty about something every once in a while. Since I’ve had kids I haven’t stopped feeling guilty.”
“Today’s working dad feels like he is twice the dad his father was, while today’s working mom feels like she is half the mom her mother was…
I do about two-thirds of the work of running our lives while I run my business, make meals, organize playdates, babysitters, birthday parties, spend quality time with my boys… yet still fight off doubts as to whether I am being a ‘good enough’ mother.”
My friend Dr. Alexandra Murtaugh shared with me how in spite of knowing being a working mom is the right choice for her, she still wrestles with guilt:
“I know that I could never be 100% present as a stay at home mom. As a working mom, I can be more present and deliberate about my time… but then I think, maybe this is just how I assuage my personal guilt about not being a stay at home mom.
I’ve had guilt about keeping my older son in daycare part-time during my maternity leave [with my younger daughter]. And I’ve had guilt about putting my daughter in daycare when she’s 5 and a half months. And guilt about working multiple jobs. And guilt about working online during my maternity leave.
It’s all Mom Guilt, whether you stay at home, or work. What what’s bizarre is that no part of being a father makes my husband feel guilty. It’s a sad statement on social gender expectations of parenthood.”
“Every day, I hear it: You’re so lucky you get to work from home. But guess what? Being a stay-at-home mom is hard, and being a working mom is hard, but being a work-at-home mom is the suckiest choice of all…
It’s not about seeing your kids too much or too little. It’s about ignoring your kid–a lot–and feeling like you’re constantly failing them throughout the day.”
“Being a stay at home mom, I have felt it all. Exhausted, envious, alone, resentful, bored, ignored…
And guilt, so much guilt.
Guilt that I got sucked into an Instagram rabbit hole for 15 minutes while my kids ran amok in the house. Guilty that there are days I yearn to be in an office. Guilt that when I yell at my kids, for the eleventh time that day. Guilty for not making them eat a well-balanced meal. Guilt that my 1 year old still wakes 3-4 times a night that I have enabled it. Guilty that I am not constantly overjoyed to have the opportunity to stay home and raise my children.”
If you’re a mom, and you find yourself feeling guilt about… everything (even things you shouldn’t feel guilty about), you might be experiencing Mom Guilt.
So Mamas – have you ever felt Mom Guilt? What kinds of things do you feel Mom Guilt over? And more importantly, if you have experienced it, what helps you get over it?
(Mother and daughter art by Natalia Tejera, available here)
P.S. – Lifehacker shares some tips for coping with parent guilt. They say to “remember that feeling guilty is a sign that you truly care and want to do what’s best for your kids.” Plus, here’s why becoming a stay at home mom (when you were a working mom before) is life-changing, and here’s a hilarious comic on trying to make professional calls as a work at home mom. 🙂