There's a lot of details that people leave out when they give you all the unsolicited advice on becoming a mother. They tell you horror stories, they tell you that you will never know another love, but they do NOT tell you that you will forever be followed by an unwanted visitor. Oh, I'm not taking about your toddler following you to the restroom for the rest of your life, or your once a month lady friend. No girl. I'm talking about guilt.
From the day your sweet innocent babe is born, you feel guilt. Guilty for reasons beyond your control. It could be something as little as leaving them in their pee diaper too long. Or bottle feeding vs breastfeeding. Or it could be for leaving them with a sitter while you go to work. I remember when my daughter was born, I was talking to my husband, and I said something along the lines of "Gosh, you know how you leave her all day, and feel guilty?", and his response was something like "Wait, guilty? No. I don't know what that word is, in fact I've never heard of it. Did you invent that one? Please tell me what it means." Alright, my husband will be the first to say I may embellish, and or add dramatic flair when necessary. However, we did have that conversation, and he did say no, he didn't feel guilty for leaving her.
After I picked my jaw off of the floor, and had secret jealousy feelings of how awesome that must be, it was at that moment I realized how different Moms and Dads were. Aside from the obvious bits and pieces. Ehem. Ehem. (Most) women are born, programmed if you will, with a guilt chip. It is hard to feel like you are doing your absolute best, and failing all at the same time. While this nasty little bugger may never fully go away, there are some ways to cope with it better. In doing so will make you a better momma, and give you more peace.
1. Try not to multitask with your kids.
I know, don't leave me just yet. I feel your eyes on me now. How do you NOT multitask with kids is a better question. There are ALWAYS one hundred things that need to be completed, and alas, one of you. The number one thing mommas feel guilty about is not playing with our kids enough / not spending enough quality time together. Now, when I say don't multitask, I mean when it cuts into quality time. Do NOT wash dishes while you read a book. Do NOT fold laundry while playing Barbies. I get it, sometimes this has to happen. Other times you need to let the rest just slide. Even if it's only for 15 minutes. Your child craves you. There will always be laundry. No literally. HOW DOES IT PILE UP SO FAST? Your little one will soon be too old to sit on your lap, need boo boo kisses, or help with homework. If you don't make time, they will stop asking. Stings, doesn't it? They deserve it, and so do you. Take time to take in their sweet sticky faces, and know their passions. Take time to take in all your hard work, and admire what a beautiful young human they are turning into. You did that. You created that. Amazing, right?
2. Give them the best version of yourself.
Take care of you, put on your oxygen mask before helping others. If working out is important to you, you need to do that. If painting is your hobby, do that. Let your kids see you be passionate about things. It's okay for them to see you as a person, and their mom. If you throw yourself completely into your child's life, you will be left feeling not whole. I know some days the best version of yourself is a messy bun, no makeup, and three day old clothes. And that is perfectly okay. They don't care what you look like. Well, they might when they're older, I'm not at that stage yet, so maybe some of you veterans can help a sister out for what I'm in for. Either way, there is a reason they say "if momma ain't happy ain't nobody happy." Your children will absolutely thrive more in an environment where you are the best you.
3. Stop feeling guilty, for NOT feeling guilty.
That's right, we are so lucky that we even feel guilty, when we don't feel guilty. Can we ever win here? Seriously. Throw me a friggin' bone. There will be times you will want to get your hair done, or a mani pedi. There will be times you will want to go back to school to better yourself for your family. There will be times you want to eat the last candy bar because dang it, your money paid for it! Whether it's big or small, we need to lighten up on ourselves. There is only so many hours in a day. If it all doesn't get done, and it won't, say a prayer that you will be lucky enough to wake up tomorrow and get 24 more hours to try and get it right. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon.
Whatever your top reasons are for feeling that dreaded mom guilt, just know you are not alone. When you really get down to it, the reason we feel the guilt, is because we love our babies to the moon and back. We love them so fiercely and deeply, that we want to be perfect for them, and do right by them. So, next time that guilt creeps it's way into your thoughts, take it for what it really is. Unwavering, unconditional, beautiful love. A love that even time will lie down and be still for. We are ALL doing our best, and isn't that all we can ask for?