Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mom Guilt and How I Deal With It

Let's talk about mom guilt for a minute. If you aren't yet a parent, this might sound like something made up or an excuse or whatever, but here's the truth. Mom guilt is most certainly a real thing. As I'm typing this, I have a sleeping baby, a toddler trying to wake him up and a 5 year old throwing a giant fit because I took her favorite thing, her blanket, away until she can clean up the giant mess she made on the stairs.

Mom guilt. Over letting them make the mess while I fed their brother. Mom guilt over making her cry by taking her blanket away for not listening. Mom guilt for getting mad and yelling, putting her in time out, ignoring her brother so I could discipline, that M cleaned up most of it by herself. Even for things like not doing their hair today.

And that's just this morning. There are so many things that make me, and all the other moms, feel guilty as a mom in a day.

Nursing. Oh the mom guilt on this one. When someone asks you if you're nursing your baby and you say no....oh goodness, the guilt. Not that it's anyones business in the first place. I breastfed J for the first year of her life, and to be honest I did it that long totally out of guilt that I felt when I went to places like WIC and they gave a whole spill about how breastfeeding was best and I should nurse as long as possible because formula wasn't as healthy as breastmilk. This is with a child who struggled really bad with acid reflux. I was on a diet for most of that year, myself, so she wouldn't throw up as much. When I knew there were formulas that were supposed to help with acid reflux.
 And then there is the guilt I feel for nursing my third baby because I feel that I'm ignoring my other two. And sometimes I just don't look forward to nursing because I know that it will mean a huge mess or a toy broken or a book ripped or anything else they can get into while I'm tied down. It's just the way it goes.

A messy house. I can't tell you how many times I look at my house and think "if Grandma came over right now...." I was raised and taught to be clean and neat. So when my kids leave toys all over I feel guilt over not teaching them to clean up. Then when they throw a fit about cleaning up I feel guilt over letting them off too easy, that I help them clean up so they don't think they can do it on their own.

I feel mom guilt over not letting them hold their brother every time they ask. But sometimes it's just too much work to help them hold him for 20 minutes while he squirms and fights. I tell them to stop touching his face and just, for heaven's sake!, leave him a lone for a second.

I feel bad most of the time for saying no to my kids. I see so many parents saying yes to everything their kids want (or what seems like everything, but that's social media for you.) and then I think I'm a bad parent, because no, you don't need another stuffed animal from the Target dollar section or an ice cream cone for breakfast.  Sometimes I might not always be that fun mom, and I feel guilty about it. But, it's probably better for you to learn that you don't always get what you want. I think.

I always feel mom guilt over doing something I love, my hobbies. Running, photography, baking, blogging, reading. Those kinds of things. Because heaven forbid I do something I like to do, something for me, once in a while.

Mom's feel guilty over the me time they actually do get. And when they get it, they don't enjoy it because they feel guilty they aren't with the kids teaching them something or doing some fun craft. For me, I feel guilty going on a solo run when J has asked to run with me. Or going to a bridal shower alone instead of taking the girls with me like my mom always did.

And these things aren't even half of it. Why do we always feel so guilty over everything we do? Most of that guilt probably comes from other people weighing in even if their opinion was never solicited in the first place. Or because on social media everyone else's lives seem so much happier and better. Or because this and that is how the world thinks we should treat our kids or live our lives.

Dealing with mom guilt is a tricky thing. A big part of dealing with it, is to relax and realize that some of the things you feel guilty over don't even matter. Giving yourself a break from mom guilt, though, will help you realize that you are doing ok.  God gave you those kids for a reason, He trusted you with them, and the love you feel for them is real, even on the days that you want to scream and pull your hair out and run away. You love them.

Sometimes I need a reminder of why I am a mom. Why I spend all day raising these kids that make me crazy. I need to remember that love I felt when they were born. Sometimes that reminder comes in so many different ways.

Writing down a list of things I love about my kids. Specifically, writing them a letter (even if they can't read it yet) about how I'm feeling or things that I love about them. A letter apologizing for being a grumpy mom sometimes (because when they can read that letter, they will realize that I'm a human being and I'm not perfect yet either).

Taking a break outside. It's frowned upon now days to leave your kids for a drive --or walk-- around the block, so I can't do that. But if I'm having a bad day with yelling and feeling bad it usually makes me feel worse and worse as the day goes on, unless I can take a break, step out in the back yard (lock the door behind me) and sit with my garden for a minute or two. When I come back in, I'm calmer and quieter and ready to be a better mom.

I pray hard! I pray really hard on days where I'm feeling all the mom guilt. I pray for guidance, I pray for strength against the world and all the judgement that comes with it. I pray to be a happier, kinder mom. I pray for His spirit to be in my home and in my family, and in my life. Because He gave me those kids, and I want to do my best raising them. I can't do that with out Him.

I tell myself over and over that it is ok. It's ok to take a break once in a while. It's ok to pamper myself. It's ok to eat chocolate while I hide in the closet so I don't have to share it. It's ok for me to want to leave the mess. It's ok to let the kids make the mess. It's alright to have dishes in the sink on the weekends and it's alright to take a nap or read a book instead of watch a movie with my kids. And it's alright to let them watch a movie or stay up late or have a treat once in a while.

Taking pictures of my kids helps me forget the mom guilt. I feel like taking pictures of them is a way of playing with them. Whether they know I'm taking pictures of them or not, I'm watching how their minds work. They are showing their true self. They are being themselves and I'm capturing it all for our memories in a way that helps me feel like myself. Usually taking pictures of them in their daily routines helps me see the things I love about them and helps me remember all their good qualities. Photography has also always been an outlet for me, a way of expression. Something I have control over. So that is a hobby that helps with mom guilt by giving me a safe way to express myself. It teaches my kids a little bit about me and about the things I love.  Then it gives me a chance to encourage them to practice the things they love to do.

I write a journal (or a blog) about how I'm not perfect but I am trying. Because that's what matters.

As moms, we can help other mom's with mom guilt by listening to each other, encouraging each other, offering to help each other. Share the real moments in your life and not just the picture perfect moments.

Mom guilt is a real thing, and it's hard. But, let's just remember that we are human. We all live our own lives. There's no one who does things exactly the same way.  And if your kids are alive and healthy, you're doing a good job!

How do you get yourself out of a funk as a mom?

How do you deal with mom (or parent) guilt?

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