Running from the Law: One Year and Beyond - Dealing with Mommy Guilt

Thursday, May 22, 2014

One Year and Beyond - Dealing with Mommy Guilt

Welcome to week 3 of our "One Year and Beyond" toddler blogging series.  If you've missed the previous posts on Tantrums and Weaning, make sure to check them out.  Today's topic is one that is near and dear to my heart, How to Deal with Mommy Guilt.  Oh boy.   As always, we would love to encourage you to share your story and link-up with us below.  Here we go.

Out of all of the topics in this series, this is probably the one that I'm the most terrified and unprepared to talk about.  Traveling with a toddler?  Yep, I've done that.  Weaning?  Check.  But dealing with the mommy guilt is something that I'm still struggling with daily and I've come to the conclusion that I just may never get a good handle on it.  It's one of those things that everyone seems to be doing better with than me, which of course just adds to my current ridiculous amount of guilt and makes me feel worse.  
First of all, maybe I should start with what mommy guilt is, for any of you expecting moms or hopeful future moms that might not know what the hell I'm talking about (this is one of those things I did not "get" before I had kids).  For me, simply stated, mommy guilt is that feeling that I should be doing MORE for/with my child. It's that pressing desire pushing me to be the very best mom I can be.  Not the best mom in the entire universe, but just to do the very best I can do for my child(ren).  It's living up to those impossible standards to be amazing teachers, gourmet chefs, professional memory documenters, perfect housekeepers, head cheerleaders and social coordinators, all to ensure that our kid's have the ultimate childhood and grow up to be well-adjusted, brilliant, healthy rocket scientists, doctors or astronauts.  

But of course, life tends to get in the way of even the best-laid plans and good intentions get pushed aside for any number of reasons; that's when the mommy guilt starts creeping in.  It can be for anything: big or small, important or trivial, significant or completely innocent.  Seriously, here's a list of some of the reasons I feel guilty on a daily basis.  
  • Guilty that I work full-time and am not a stay-at-home mom. 
  • Guilty that I didn't breastfeed. 
  • Guilty that I sometimes need a break.  
  • Guilty that we sleep trained.  
  • Guilty that we didn't sleep train earlier.  
  • Guilty that I check my phone when I'm with my child.  
  • Guilty that I didn't take enough photos of his birthday party.  
  • Guilty that I take too many photos sometimes and he gets annoyed with me and the camera.  
  • Guilty that I spent more time cooking dinner and cleaning up than playing with him.  
  • Guilty that I didn't spend enough time cooking a healthier meal.  
  • Guilty that I didn't make it to music class because of work. 
  • Guilty that my husband has to take care of so many things that I used to be able to do.  
  • Guilty that I went to dinner with my husband and missed bedtime.  
  • Guilty that I let the nanny watch him and took a nap.
  • Guilty that I ate all his Easter candy.
  • Guilty that I lost my cool and got mad at him over something stupid.
  • Guilty that he cries for me when I leave the house.
  • Guilty that he doesn't cry for me when I leave the house.
The list is endless.  The crazy thing about mommy guilt is that it's mostly self-imposed.  No one is forcing me to go above and beyond every moment of the day.  No one is publicly berating me or judging me for not doing enough.  I feel guilty about these things solely because of the pressure I put on myself to be a good mother.  I know I'm not perfect and I'm not striving for perfection, but I am trying to do the very best job I possibly can and sometimes the pressure of all the things I want to do (or think I should do) gets the better of me and the guilt gets overwhelming.  It turns into stress, self-pity, regret and remorse.  If you let it, guilt can take over and ruin otherwise lovely experiences.
Just this week I had a major meltdown (tears and all) because I felt like I didn't take enough photos at my son's second birthday party.  This past Sunday, I organized and threw a pretty fantastic fiesta for 12 kids and 25 adults, complete with a full taco bar, decorations, homemade cupcakes, margaritas, play areas and party favors, all while working full-time, chasing around a toddler and being 29 weeks pregnant.  I spent my time at the party talking to friends, watching my son play with his grandparents, serving our guests and having a good time.  And the next morning all I could do was feel bad about the lack of photos I'd taken.  I couldn't stop thinking about it and kicking myself.  For three or four hours I let that consume me and it nearly ruined my whole outlook on how successful and fun the party really was until my husband made some comment about not having any photos of his second birthday party and how he still really loved his mother.  Then I felt pretty ridiculous about the whole thing.  Mommy guilt at its finest.  

So, how do you deal with it?  Hell, I don't know.  If I knew the answer to this, I'd be a millionaire. Nearly all the moms I know experience mommy guilt at some point.  Some of us have it WAY more than others, but we all have it.  What I've learned though, is that we all handle it differently and let it affect us in different ways.  Some of my mommy inspirations have taught me a few tricks of the trade for dealing with the guilt, of which I'm happy to share here in the hopes that maybe it'll help you too, if this is something you're struggling with. 

1. Be confident in your choices.
I read somewhere that guilt is simply a manifestation of lack of self-confidence in your choices.  AMEN. This definitely applies in my situation.  I can personally attest to the fact that I feel much less guilty about the choices I make when I feel confident that they are the best choices for our family.  Whether it's making the decision to go back to work or take some personal time for myself, if it's something I feel good about and feel is necessary for the healthy/well-being of the family, then I feel much less guilt.  Some of this confidence comes from experience and you gain that the longer you've been at this whole mommy gig.  I think this must be part of the reason that veteran moms seem to feel less "guilty" than new moms.  Lack of confidence.  

2. Learn from it.
I've also heard that feeling guilty is a cop out so you don't have to take responsibility for your decisions. Instead of actually taking action and fixing the situation, feeling guilty about it lets it the "shoulda coulda woulda's" take over.  In this situation, the best thing to do is learn from it and don't make the same mistake again, subjecting yourself to a whole new round of guilt for the same reason.  For example, I now realize that having photos of the birthday party is really important to me, so next time I'll ask someone to grab my camera and take pictures.  No, I can't do it all, but I can try to prevent some of it from every happening in the first place.  

3. Remind myself of how lucky we all are.
Sometimes I just need a slap-in-the-face type situation to snap me out of the mommy guilt roller coaster and remind me of just how lucky my son is and how fortunate I am.  I may want to cry all the way to work when my son has a morning meltdown when I leave the house for work.  But I have to remind myself that he is surrounded by a wonderful loving care-giver and parents that would do anything for him, in a house full of toys and pets with constant attention and daily adventures anywhere he wants to go.  I'm lucky enough to have a great flexible job and an understanding boss that lets me work from home when necessary or take time off to be with my family.  We are so lucky and there are so many families that would love to be in our position.  I need to stop feeling guilty about it.  

4. Let it go!
Yes, I realize Disney may have a trademark on this sentiment by now, but it's true here too.  I've learned that the best way to get over the guilt is to just decide to let it stop bothering me.  No one else is making me feel guilty, it's ALL ME.  My child is happy and I'm doing the best I can - that's enough.  I need to learn to not only let the guilt go, but also let go of some of the things causing the guilt.  The house isn't clean - let it go, even if I clean it now it'll be dirty again tomorrow.  Dinner doesn't involve a single green veggie - let it go, he probably wouldn't eat it anyway.  I spent 10 minutes answering work emails on the phone while my child wanted my attention  - let it go, he knows he's loved and is the center of my universe, but needs to learn patience and he doesn't need to be entertained every second of the day anyway.  

So, that's it.  Like I said, this is something that I'm still struggling with and I know I don't have all the answers. I'm fascinated by the topic, so I'd love to hear how you handle the mommy guilt.  If you have a blog, please link-up.  And make sure to check out the other mamas participating in this series to see what they have to say.

From Here to EternityWords About Waverly
my delicious adventure Photobucket
My Delicious Adventure                  The Life Of Faith
Running From The LawThe Olive Tree

May 8:          Taming the temper tantrums
May 15:        Weaning from breastfeeding or from formula to cow’s milk 
May 22:        Dealing with "Mommy Guilt"
May 29:        When people share their opinions and how to lovingly handle it
June 5:         Traveling with your toddler
June 12:       How to get your toddler to eat their veggies…or their food at all
June 19:       How to make time to blog in the busyness of motherhood
June 26:       Bedtime battles (nap or bedtime)

How do you handle the mommy guilt?


  1. So, I was going to write about this today...and then you said pretty much everything I could. Ugh. It's way too hard, and mommy guilt is the worst. The worst part is that it's all self-imposed! I don't think it'll ever completely go away.

  2. My guilt manifests itself through stress. I feel like I don't often feel "guilty" instead I feel stressful about random mom things. Which is why I love your list- more confidence and letting it go. Where do I sign up?

  3. So good to see that other moms deal with this just as bad as I do! Always self imposed. Love that you and these other moms started this link up... I look forward to it every week!!

  4. Great tips. I think most moms have all these same worries. Some more than others.

  5. YES YES YES YES. I agree with every single one of your "guilty for" list. I linked up today and wrote about this because this is so, so true for me too. Your words have never been more true to me than today! Well said mama. I can relate all too well. But we have to know that we are doing our best. And our best is enough. Our kids are happy, healthy and love us for who we are and that's the best feeling in the world.

  6. I feel like you were in my head, reading my thoughts while writing your 'I feel guilty because...' list.
    Every time I make dinner and do the dishes I think 'I should be spending time with C. Why aren't we playing together?'. Terrible!

  7. Guilty that I didn't breastfeed.
    This is so a struggle I have daily. And I contemplate with the next one will I try harder or more? But then I feel guilty because that's not fair to Grayson! Being a Momma is so hard and throw all the other full time jobs like wife, daughter, friend, work and it's amazing we make it through the day with our santiy.
    Thank you for writing this it was amazing and it's good to not feel alone! Or as crazy anyway!

  8. I love that one of your guilts is that you ate all of his Easter candy :) Ha, I can't wait to have a Trick or Treater just so I can do this ;) I think you are doing a fantastic job and you know the fact that you didn't take a lot of pictures on his birthday means only one thing. You were hanging with the birthday boy enjoying the moment. I am sure that will be a much bigger memory for him than looking back on photos one day.

  9. This is excellent. Not only you put into words how I FEEL but excellent reminders to get it together and deal with it. Thank you for this. It's funny how since becoming a mom these feelings/guilt/stress is there and often, but my confidence HAS grown and I know I am doing a good job (most day). :)

  10. I love how you included opposites on your list: guilt from taking too many pictures, guilt from not taking enough... it's so true! I really like your tips too

  11. It is GOOD that you're not a perfect mom! Our children will never ever encounter a perfect person in their lives, much less a perfect person whose life goal is to bring them happiness. Being the perfect mother would set them up for utter failure in their relationships for the rest of their lives. It sounds dramatic, but it's true.

    Just like they need to scrape their knees a few times to learn to walk, they need to be disappointed in their parents to learn how to live with and love imperfect people.

  12. guilty that i check my phone instead of being present with him yup double check!

  13. some great tips! I found myself nodding at all the things that you listed and laughed at them when you contradicted yourself in the next sentence because it's so true! So many emotions!

  14. Mommy guilt really is a roller coaster and comes in so many forms. I totally get the picture problem, I often drop whatever im doing to snap too many pictures for one perfect one and then on big days i work so hard on everything else i usually forget my camera all together. It is easy to get hard on ourselves but not worth all the worry and stress that comes with it.

  15. I could have written that list myself!!! Love your honesty, you are a great mama! Xo

  16. Your list about why you feel guilty is incredibly witty and funny! I love it. And isn't it the truth, we all feel guilty for everything and anything. Being confident in your choices and letting the guilt go is so important. We are better mothers for it. Thanks for sharing your story!

  17. all to ensure that our kid's have the ultimate childhood and grow up to be well-adjusted, brilliant, healthy rocket scientists, doctors or astronauts.

    haha, exactly!!!

    mommy guilt is the worst though.

  18. I love that you said it is self imposed! It is so true, no one has ever said anything to me about my parenting. If anything I get told all the time by my husband that I need to take time for myself. I agree, but then I rarely do it. I get inside my own head. I just have to remember at the end of the day my kids are happy and healthy, and anything else I just need to let it go! But I can totally relate to your words. Great post!

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  20. Amen, sister. AMEN. I am already such an indecisive person and this has basically made me paralyzed at times. I definitely have gotten better at really thinking things out, and if there's even a nagging tiny thought back there that I will regret something, I figure out how to do it differently. And I hold on to little things WAY too much. Like I was just lamenting on the fact that I didn't post a picture of me holding Sybil after she was born on insta or Facebook, even though we had a professional photographer there (something that we didn't have with D and I had major guilt and sadness over it.) Maybe the hormones make us hold onto things differently. I don't know. But I actually have been thinking about a whole "Let It Go" post because that has basically been my life motto lately (though how well it works is debatable. :/ )

  21. Mommy guilt is such a tricky, messy thing. The worst part of it is that it's all in our heads, and it's nearly impossible to get out!! But you are an AMAZING mom!! Your kids adore you and you truly are the best for them!

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