I’m not a perfect mommy. I’m just not. I get frustrated with my kids, I get touched out, I capitulate to my older child’s picky eating and let him subsist on salami sandwiches and Goldfish. I sneak peeks at Twitter while we’re at the playground and my baby was treated to a 2 hour marathon of Go On the other day because I wanted to get caught up. I don’t come up with fun craft ideas, my kids clothes all come from Target, and my house…let’s just not talk about my housekeeping standards, ok?
I’d feel guilty about all of this but…there’s no point. That’s how I am. A lousy housekeeper with no ability to fashion amazing things out of glitter glue and stickers. But I can read a story like a mo-fo, I do a great vampire impression, and breastfeeding? I’m a champ at nursing a baby. And I know my kids down to the tiniest molecule and I do everything in my power to do what’s right for them. So I have nothing to feel guilty about, right?
Moms face so much pressure to do it right. Ever since Freud started blaming us for every problem under the sun, moms bear the burden of being the parent who can make or break their child’s life. Somewhere in our brains is embedded the idea that every single little choice we make for our babies will reverberate through the rest of their lives and ZOMG! What if we choose wrong? What will we do to our babies?!?!?
Moreover, we all have the unfortunate – but totally normal – tendency to compare ourselves to other moms. And while it’s easy to feel damn good about our parenting when measuring ourselves up against some reality show harridan who tricks her daughter out like a hooker and makes her do pole dances on a pageant stage, when it comes to the moms around us we’ll always find ways they’re doing it better than we are. Their kid’s lunches are healthier. Their baby’s socks stay on. They’re organized enough to get to Gymboree classes and still cook dinner every nigh. Meanwhile you’ve had take-out all week and you’re so behind on laundry that the whole family is wearing mismatched socks and you let the baby watch Phineas and Ferb with her brother so you could (selfishly) shower and now you’re certain she won’t ever learn to read because she regularly exceeds the AAP recommendations about screen time for babies.
That is the voice of Mom Guilt.
You know about Mom Guilt. It’s what you feel when you look at your kids and look at yourself and find yourself lacking in some way. You stare into the shining faces of the little people placed in your (inept) care and wonder how such perfect little creatures can possibly grow up to their whole potential with a mother like you in charge of their progress. You lie awake at night beating yourself up over the mistakes of the day and promise to do better. Promise to be less like you and more like that other mother. The one doing it right.
You can just stop that right now, you hear?
Listen, there are so many ways to do this mom thing right. Don’t believe me? Go ask the person you admire the most about their childhood. Chances are it’s markedly different than your image for the perfect childhood and yet, there they are. The person you admire the most. Their mom did things you’ve never dreamed of and look how they turned out. The way you’re doing it will probably turn out just as well.
Some of the best advice my mother ever gave me about parenting is that you can only do what you can do. You can’t be another mother. You can only be this mother. Own your flaws, yes, and work on minimizing them, but don’t discount your strong points. Learn to love the things that make you an awesome mom. Learn to do them MORE. If the voice of Mom Guilt starts yammering in your ear, telling you all the way you don’t excel say “Yeah, but I rock at this one thing so suck it, Mom Guilt.”
Unless you’re abusing or neglecting your child – and if you suspect you are, please go seek help immediately for the sake of your children – you’re probably making good choices. You’re giving your children a warm home, nourishing food, and all the love they could ask for and more. Throw in some bedtime stories and you’re the best mom ever, no need for guilt. Just ask your kids.
Photo credit: photo stock
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