I’m taking the challenge.
Atlanta Mom of Three is challenging momma-bloggers everywhere to give up the ever-present (and annoying) ghost of Mommy Guilt, and then tell us about it. I’m in.
This challenge was kind of right up my alley. As a person who doesn’t like saying “no” to…anything, and who often has guilt when she doesn’t feel like she can “come through” for someone in a pinch, I have quite a bit of built up guilt in general. Kind of like dividends. It just keeps paying. Or something. My economically inclined husband is going to correct me for that one, I’m sure.
As I have gotten older, as my priorities continue to shift and my commitments grow, I have found that sometimes, you just can’t win em all. In fact, it really doesn’t always mean that you “lose” at anything when you don’t accomplish everything that you think you should. Here are a few thoughts on how we put ourselves through the mother of all guilt trips when we become moms. And how we can stand to ease up on ourselves.
Let’s first attempt to fully describe what motherhood guilt is:
I’m sure all of that is in Webster’s Dictionary or something…
In other words, there tends to be guilt from “failing” at being the mom that we (and even sometimes others) *think* we should be, and then there is the guilt from the days that don’t go so hot for us, where we are one unruly child and temper tantrum away from an internal and external meltdown.
Expectations and situations, in other words. It comes from all angles.
I have suffered from guilt caused by both of these. I entered into parenting with my own set of expectations. I still have those residual expectations left over from the beginning. I have new expectations that come to light as the years pass. The more studies you read, the more blogs you follow, the more links you click on Facebook all point to newer, better, more thorough ways to parent. It’s a constant “out with the old, in with the new” scenario.
But, despite our feelings and our parenting “needs,” (yes, believe it or not, when it comes to parenting, our children aren’t the only ones in the parent/child relationship with some emotional needs to be fulfilled) there is something underneath of it all that we can discover when we chip away at the stuff that doesn’t matter: truth.
And truth is something that you need to constantly, if not daily, pour onto yourself to make it through until bed time. If you let your inner conscience and feelings do all of the talking, I can assure you that there will be times that you think you aren’t going to make it through the afternoon. Because your inner-self is sometimes a liar. Your inner-self will concede before the day is through if you let it.
Here is what I would suggest to battle motherhood-guilt:
1. Constant truth
As I already mentioned, you can read about new parenting trends, techniques and ideas pretty much anywhere that your mouse and keyboard can roam online There is a lot out there. If I bought into all of it all of the time, I would never dig out from underneath all of the guilt from doing it “wrong.
Yes, my children watch television. Yes, I discipline my children with spankings. Yes, I do give them macaroni and cheese. No, I cannot afford organic food, nor a specialized, state of the art daycare program to send them to every week.
We live in the age of information and opinion overload. And that is putting it mildly. Heck, you may even find yourself growing uncomfortable and discontent with the pictures and statuses shared by moms that you know personally on Facebook. Maybe they can make homemade crafts with their children a few times a week or make it outside everyday for a walk. That’s wonderful. But let’s focus on you. Let’s focus on the truth. Let’s focus on what’s real.
Comparisons to other moms, either to make ourselves feel better (because we would never…or we have never done….) or, sadly, that end up making ourselves feel worse (no, my children haven’t tried paper mache yet) are beyond frivolous. They are utterly WORTHLESS.
It doesn’t get the homework done. The laundry folded. The kids tucked in. The kids loved and kissed and hugged. The kids consoled when they are crying. The kids fed. The kids in and out of the tub and into a new diaper. I sometimes think that comparisons are literally the devil. There is a reason God commands us not to compare our lot with another’s.
We can be INSPIRED by other moms and new ideas, but we should never feel deflated. And if you’re following blogs, Pinterest boards, celebrities or magazine subscriptions that do just that, then maybe it’s time to trim the waste off of what information you feed yourself.
There is no better type of mothering out there than when you’re focused on yourself and your children. Period.
2.) Desires vs. Needs
I’m reading a book. In a nutshell, it talks about a believer’s walk with Christ, and it’s significance in all of the areas of our lives. In the case of this book it namely focuses in on our marriages. It’s wisdom is applicable in all areas of our lives.
It states this: we throw ourselves into a tizzy when our desires are not met. We hurl angry words. We sulk. We cry. We hurt. The funny thing about these desires is that they tend to mask themselves as needs. So, we kid ourselves into thinking that if everything isn’t just so, that we are doomed because our NEEDS aren’t being fulfilled. If our needs are not being acknowledged all is lost
Therefore it’s worth going to war over not being able to log on to the internet. It’s worth insulting your spouse over dishes left on the nightstand because we NEED order in our lives and a clean house. Maybe it’s even justifiable to explode at your children because you’re frustrated that their shoes are missing because you NEED to be out the door.
In truth, how much worse off will we be if the house was a little more cluttered? If we couldn’t log on to Twitter? It would be inconvenient, it may outright stink. In the light of day, however, we will go on. Read that again, Scarlett O’Hara. You WILL carry on. Because you NEED air, you don’t need fung shui.
I never thought that in the game of parenting I would have my own needs and desires. That I would hold such hope for personal fulfillment. That I would hold out for a sense of accomplishment.
I also never thought that these so-called needs could muddle my vision. I thought that there was things that I was supposed to do as a parent. Crafts, baking with the kids, cute outfits, clean floors for them to crawl on. Really, when I would say that I wanted this to be about doing for THEM, I wanted to do it for me. Deep, deep down, it was for me. So that I could sleep at night. So that I could tick off the boxes and feel whole and like I did it all right.
Activities with your children are wonderful things. Enjoying your children is fantastic, and we should enjoy them. Sometimes, I think that moms tend to overdo it and say that it’s in the name of their children, when really, it’s to satisfy their own desires and perceptions about what they (we) think makes a wonderful, accomplished mother.
The children NEED to be fed everyday. They need affection, encouragement and, at times, admonishment. They need wisdom and values. They need clothes and diapers and baths. They need you. But, beyond that, anything else that we can clothe them in, buy for them, do with them, do for them, take them to, enroll them in – while wonderful, they are not necessities.
Children need parents. Good parents, who try, who care, who love and who worry and who laugh. And who can make fart noises at the dinner table.
Everything else is merely an extra adornment. So, we should really stop beating ourselves up so much.