I feel like I should hashtag “#momguilt” here, because mom guilt has become such a keyword in my life as I have engrained myself in the trenches of motherhood. It is spoken about in Scary Mommy articles, Facebook message boards, and blog posts of women who became mothers before me. I had always heard about it, but I didn’t understand it until I had Olivia and then began trying to live life while still being Olivia’s mom. I think I also got a serious case of it because of my experience with the baby blues. It seems that while I can forget that I’m a teacher on a random Tuesday in June or forget that I used to be a runner, there’s never a point in life where you can just forget that you’re a mom (not that I would want to).
Enter: mom guilt.
I feel momguilt (I’m using it as one word now because it flows out of my mouth so frequently and quickly now that it sounds like one word) quite a bit these days, and I’m beginning to almost feel like I put it on each morning when I wake up, as though it’s an accessory to me. When I think for a split second about a reason I’m looking forward to returning to work I feel it. When I think about not staying home with Olivia I feel it.
My mom was here visiting last week and I was talking her about my concerns. She told me that the guilt would last forever and that I should get used to it and accept it. She said even today she feels guilty when my sister, who is 27, and I call at almost the same time (which happens a few times per week) and she has to tell one of us she’ll call us back. She feels guilty that she doesn’t live in the same city as me and can’t come and babysit Olivia at a moment’s notice.
A shift in my perspective on mom guilt.
Something that my mom said that gave me a little perspective on feeling guilty as a mom was that no matter the choice I made, there was a chance I would still feel guilty for it.
It may sound weird, but hearing her say that helped me grapple with the idea of mom guilt a little differently. Bare with me while I describe this, as it may sound convoluted. If all moms feel guilt about their various choices, that means that I might end up feeling guilty even if I did things completely differently from the way I do them now.
If I didn’t go back to work I might feel guilty for not contributing financially, instead of feeling guilty for not being with Olivia while I’m at work. I won’t know, because I am going back to work, but I hadn’t ever really thought about this. It’s a case of the grass is always greener, I guess. Choosing to do or not do something that I feel guilty about won’t necessarily eliminate guilt all together; it will just shift what I feel guilty about. I just have to accept that it will not go away for me.
I hate this mom guilt thing. I know there are women who swear it off and say they won’t fall victim to it, and while I’d like to, I often wonder if I’d be able to and also whether they are really able to. As mothers, are we ever really 100% confident in all of our decisions? I hope the answer there is no, as I’m most certainly not frequently 100% confident in what I’m doing.
I imagine that as Olivia continues to grow and get older I’ll experience mom guilt less frequently and more frequently as we go through life’s seasons, but for now it’s a part of me.
I’m interested to hear other people’s opinions on this. Do you experience guilt as a mother? What do you do to alleviate some of that guilt? What do you personally feel guilty about as a mom in your family?