Mom guilt plagues all of us mothers. We worry that we are doing the right things for our children, saying the right things when we discipline, and that we are feeding them the right foods.
And when we don’t do what we (or society) deems is “right” or “the best” we feel guilty. We feel as though we have let our children down in some way. We start saving for their inevitable future therapy sessions because we are sure we are damaging them in some way long-term by letting them watch Daniel Tiger for two hours straight one Saturday morning.
I used to hate the feeling of mom guilt. I would try to push it as far away from my brain as possible, telling myself I shouldn’t feel guilty because I’m doing the best I can in this moment. I would justify my actions or my words because “mom guilt” seemed like a silly construct put together by society telling me what I should or shouldn’t do with my children. But as the years went on I began to embrace my mom guilt for what it really was: an accountability partner.
Many of us have accountability partners for things like working out or eating healthy. We join Facebook groups and talk about how we did during the day when it comes to our personal well-being. But mom guilt, who has come to be my dear friend, is like an internal accountability partner. Sure, I get annoyed with her when she asks me several times per day if I should really be doing that. And sometimes I argue with her about the fact that I need that time to myself while the kids watch more television or that McDonald’s is definitely a rite of passage and who am I to deprive them?
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Mom guilt is always there. She’s always watching and she’s always judging. Some days I hate her. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t get rid of her.
Yes, she’s always there but it’s not always bad. Her judging eyes make me second guess whether McDonald’s really is the best choice, or if I should suck it up and just make dinner. She gives me a little pat on the back when I drive past it instead of stopping. She reminds me ever so gently with those tiny internal pangs that maybe its time to turn the television off even though the lack of screaming is oh-so-enjoyable right now. She insists I stay up later than I should going through Pinterest for healthy meal ideas, homeschooling activities, and parenting tips. Mom guilt tells me that the behavior chart is a good idea even if it takes forever to make, and that volunteering in my child’s school is a great thing to do even if it takes up my precious work time during the day.
I will be honest. Sometimes I do shut her out. Sometimes we make the stop or they watch an extra 30 minutes of television because, well, I do need it. Workouts need rest days and even the healthiest eaters have cheat meals because recovery and recuperation is an important part of our mental state as mothers. I still feel her watching me during those times, but I also remind myself that I do deserve it and I do need it sometimes.
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And that’s okay, because life is a balance and motherhood is like walking on a tightrope with bad parenting and insanity nipping at your heels below. Mom guilt is just a little balance pole you hold on to as you walk along that line, helping you to remember that the best way to do things is the way that is right for you.
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