Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mom Guilt

Mom guilt. If you're a mom, you know what that means. If you're a mom, you've felt it.

Picture it. You're standing in the grocery store with one kid whose whining you can feel in your eardrums, a baby whose pacifier hits the floor every three seconds, and a third who is seconds away from a limp noodle tantrum. You're wearing last night's spit-up and counting the seconds until the four of you can plop in front of the television for a few hours. Yesterday's pizza is sounding like an adequate dinner {hey, it was good for breakfast, too}. Then, as you threaten your children for the fifth time in a row, you see her.

Impeccably dressed and not a hair out of place, she sashays past the canned beans while well-behaved children march in a perfect line behind her. A baby in a sling nurses at her chest and the items in her cart are sorted by both color and kitchen placement. She ticks off her list as her children grab the organic products from the shelves and set them down in perfect precision. She checks a separate list to ensure her coupon book will cover it and simultaneously responds to a work email without missing a beat. The children rush to action when she gives the call of crunch time. Those blinds aren't going to dust themselves and she has to get dinner in the oven before Mommy and Me rocket science at 6:00.

Crap. What am I doing?

{Disclaimer: The above scenario is fake and not a real-life experience. I scoff at the fact that you think I have the mental capacity to go anywhere with three kids and no backup.}

In every mom's head, they're struggling. They're not doing enough for their children. If they forgot to do that craft they saw on Pinterest, they're failing. If their kid's birthday party wasn't bigger than it was last year, it stunk. If dinner comes from a bag three nights in a row, they're ruining lives. And then there's the fact that every other woman who has ever been called "mom" is better than you. They hand-grind their own baby food, they clean their cleaning supplies, their kids speak Spanish and don't know who Dora is, and they have time for yoga, PTA, and a full-time job.

You can't compete. Your children are doomed.

Sounds silly, doesn't it?

{Secret: That's because it is.}

I know I like to spout rainbows and sunshine most of the time, because parenting really is the most amazing thing I've ever done, but being a mom is hard. It's mentally draining, it's exhausting, it's painful, it's heart-breaking, and it's frustrating.

Adding to that pile of stress the task of having to compare yourself to every woman you pass on the street {or notice online} is just too much. It's the last straw of self-doubt for lots of women. And it has to stop.

If ever there was a community of people who could build each other up through sympathy, empathy, and a safe conversation free of judgement, it's moms. We are a band of brothers {mothers?} and we've all battled in the trenches. We have to be there for one another.

Truth: Your husband doesn't know what postpartum depression feels like. It's been a really long time since your mom struggled with breastfeeding issues. Your kid-less friend might not believe your desperate need for a break from your "cushy" SAHM gig. Other mothers should not be the enemy. They are your comfort, your support, your allies.

In the same breath, don't be ashamed of how awesome you are. If any of the examples I listed above apply to you, that's fantastic! {heck, I make baby food with the best of 'em} You are doing an amazing job and it shouldn't matter if you're doing it differently. Chances are, if you're that obsessed with doing right by your kids, you're already a pro. Do what you think is best for your children and that, my friend, is the right thing to do. Share your joys, don't compare them. Share your failures, don't be embarrassed by them. Every single second of every single day is an opportunity to learn and grow.

Don't waste your time watching everyone else. You might just miss something.

In closing, you are an incredible mom and you are so, SO much better at it than you think you are. Promise.

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Unknown said...

Thanks cuz!!! Def needed that!!

Kalli said...

Can I just say I LOVE this post!! :) I'm one of the blogging moms from Babycenter and I've been following you because let's be honest you're a sweetheart and an inspiration! I have always struggled with disapproving moms that tear other moms down instead of building them up. I have never been able to breastfeed - it is physically impossible and I have had many women actually tell me I'm not a good mother because I feed my babies formula. Everyone does things differently - but it never means you're doing it wrong. Every child, mother & scenario ARE different so my motto is be supportive not demeaning. :) Thanks for your insight and positivity it helps!

Jessica Bauer said...

Happy to help, Bonnie - this was definitely written from ME to ME, but I'm glad others could benefit, too. :)

And, Kalli, thanks so much for your sweet words! I can absolutely relate to your story and I simply don't understand why we do this to each other. We're all in this together!

The Gifted Gabber said...

LOVE this. You are spot on and your fake scenario is awesome!!
Amy @