“Fine, just do whatever you want.” I snapped this at my daughter the other night. As soon as the words and tone were out of my mouth I felt like a failure. Mom guilt. Oh mom guilt. It will never go away. It is an albatross around the neck of every mother that ever existed. It hits me so hard some days.
I wanted so desperately for my daughter to just eat a full dinner. As you momma’s know, kids don’t really understand or care what you desire. It’s not their fault at this age. And this, this is why after you lose your patience the mom guilt gnaws at your gut for hours, sometimes days.
I’m not sure where the intense jump to guilt comes from as a mother. Is it an innate behavior we have somehow passed down generation to generation? Is it social conditioning? Lack of sleep causing us to be overly emotional? A fun cocktail of all of the above? I often find that my reactions to my daughter (and let’s be real, husband and anyone else who comes into my path) are more of a reflection of my current mood than they are a reflection of the other persons actions.
The cherry on top of mom guilt – our children are so quick to forgive and forget and boy does that just pour salt into the wound. Maybe five minutes after I snapped at her, she was sitting on my lap, hugging me and eating dinner. I think most mom’s can relate that we aren’t so quick to forgive ourselves. We tend to ruminate on every little micro mistake we make. We hold ourselves to these unrealistic expectations. “I’ll never be the mom that… (fill in the blank).”
So here I sit and ponder. How can I and we as mothers, try and balance out this mom guilt? I’ve decided for myself at least, to develop a kind of mommy mission statement for guilt. Without further ado.
I will not feel guilty for snapping at my daughter, I will apologize. She will learn that mom makes mistakes too.
I will not feel guilty for letting her play by herself so I can get housework done. She will benefit from learning to have independent play.
I will not feel guilty for asking my husband to watch my daughter so I can take a shower. We all do better when momma doesn’t stink.
I will not feel guilty for how often I have to multitask to balance motherhood, household and career. My daughter will learn that women can do it all when they have to.
Lastly, I will not feel guilty about feeling guilty. Let’s be real, no matter how much we try to rationalize our ever changing emotions, guilt is part of motherhood. This doesn’t have to be a horrible thing. Our guilt reminds us how much we love our children. True unconditional love.
Guilt is just one of the many emotions that is magnified a thousand fold once you have a child. Love, excitement, contentment, pride, joy. All these emotions are magnified as well and it is absolutely worth it.