Chances are you know this feeling well. For me, it usually sneaks into my brain those first calm moments at the end of the day when I’m lying in bed. There’s blissful silence, I’m finally not being needed or constantly touched by someone and I can think clearly about all the ups and downs of the day. The rough moments are what always pop into my head first. Those moments where I lost my cool, when I acted more like a toddler than the toddler did, when I said “no” but really should have said “yes” more, when I felt like I couldn’t stand another minute of being pulled on, touched or needed…you know the drill. In the darkness of my bed, the nagging feeling of not quite living up to the expectations that I put on myself takes hold. As moms, we tend to berate ourselves and can be our worst critics.
I love being mom, but damn, some days it can be overwhelming.
Social media is a great thing, but it certainly can also play mind games. Most feeds are full of sweet, perfect moments. No one wants to air their dirty laundry or less than perfect selves. I try to do a mix of the good and bad to help portray how motherhood really is, but let’s be honest, no one wants a Debbie Downer or to focus on the negative. Plus, putting ourselves out there puts us at risk for being judged, and we all know that there are already copious amounts of mom shaming out there (Gorilla Mom, anyone?).
It doesn’t help that everywhere you look, people have opinions and guidelines on what you should (or shouldn’t) do as a parent. Some are mere suggestions, but some are pushed so heavily that it wears on you after awhile. Bottom line, we all have this idea in our head as to what a perfect parent is and what they should/shouldn’t do. Being a mom is a huge part of my identity so I often feel pressure that those good, bad and wonderful moments are a reflection or indication of how I’m handling this parenting thing. Despite that, kids are kids, and sometimes they can be wild, crazy and their temperaments can play a huge factor in behaviors and attitudes.
The power of thought is a powerful thing. I’m going to do my best to work on alleviating the “mommy guilt” and change it in when those late night thoughts and those moments of doubt sneak in.
Below are a few of the ways I’m working on dealing with “Mommy Guilt”:
Focus on the Good
Focus on the things that went well: the laughs, snuggles, the cute phrases, pleases and thank you’s, the look of pride when something new is learned or a feat or hiccup is endured. Those little moments are what matter, not that they had chicken nuggets 3 times this week (it happens).
Count to Three
Seriously. Most of my guilt comes from outburst when my patience has been tried too many times. Instead of reacting, count to 3 in order to allow you to think before reacting. Not only does this help anger/frustration dissipate and for you to be more mindful to why your upset, but it also teaches your child(ren) a new way to handle anger as well.
Figure Out If It Really Matters
Is your guilt justified? Most times I find it’s really not a big blip on the radar long term. If it is something that you think needs to be handled, find new ways to handle it. Find a happy medium somewhere and makes goals and steps to work towards. And as for that other “stuff” – let it go! Don’t let it sneak in and take away from those moments when you were a rockstar parent (which you are, by the way!).
Find a Mom Tribe
Sometimes you just need to vent and let it out. That tribe doesn’t even have to be in person (although that real life social interaction is definitely needed, especially if you’re a SAHM). I have several great online groups of “friends” that are there for a vent session along with a small group of mamas that live nearby. This prevents me from venting all the days frustrations to my husband when he walks in the door from work too (although, that definitely happens).
Social Media Lies
Remember, most people only post what they want others to see. Pinterest makes it seem like every parent should plan the most spectacular and amazing events, playtimes, dinners, birthdays, lesson plans, you-name-it. You don’t see the every day battles, tantrums, tears, spilled milk, piles of laundry that plague us all on the rollercoaster ride of parenting.
A bad day (or bad moment), doesn’t make a bad mom. Let’s stop putting ridiculous stress on ourselves to be perfect Pinterest parents. Embrace the mommy guilt, but don’t let it take over. A little guilt now and then means you care, but stop comparing yourself to everyone and stop beating yourself up over it. You know what’s best for you and your family and ultimately, that’s the only thing that matters.