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Published June 25, 2012, 11:30 PM

Kava: Slice of advice for mothers facing guilt

When I first became a mother almost five years ago, in addition to the fear and anxiety I was facing from finding out my newborn son had Williams syndrome, I was also recently subjected to what no mom escapes – guilt.

By: Kerri Kava, INFORUM

When I first became a mother almost five years ago, in addition to the fear and anxiety I was facing from finding out my newborn son had Williams syndrome, I was also recently subjected to what no mom escapes – guilt.

I admitted my feelings to JeAnne, a gal in church. I remember the moment like it was yesterday, and that’s about how quickly the first five years went. I was emotional, hormonal, exhausted and unsure of every step that was to come next.

As if it wasn’t written all over my face, she considerately asked me how I was managing with becoming a new mom. I told her I was not only tired and overwhelmed, but that I felt guilty that every decision I make is the wrong one. And what if I have no idea what I’m doing?

JeAnne looked at me and said, “You have to let that go. Guilt will eat you alive as a mother if you let it.”

And I took away from that conversation that it’s not about what we have done wrong; it’s about learning from our mistakes and improving every day.

Another great piece of advice came before I had my son or was even married. This came from my former boss, Karen. I was in a less-than-desirable situation, and while speaking with her about it she told me three words that may seem so obvious its silly but we often forget as parents.

“Make good decisions.”

Tell me you don’t need to be reminded of this.

Some other personal favorites that I need some practice with: “Learn to say no” and “Don’t try to please everyone, all the time.”

I struggle with this every single day. The social butterfly in me, who wants to help all unfortunate things, has to make a conscious effort not to participate in so many things.

But how can I say no to that committee, that program, that fun event?

Then, I remind myself that at some point I do need to sleep. Saying no is necessary. As much as I love direct-sales parties, food that’s not so good for me, helping with another fundraiser, attending another monthly club and going to every birthday party for every child I have ever encountered, that’s simply not what’s best for my family.

Here are some tips for letting go of the guilt and making good decisions:

1. Make time for yourself.

On my list of true priorities are God and my family, to focus on a career that you are passionate about, and to make time for activities you truly enjoy. So while guilt likes to creep in on my second and third true priorities, I do make time for them, as much as I can.

2. Dedicate time to be alone with your spouse.

My friend Kaja is a stay-at-home mom with three children. She and her husband simply cannot go out once a week for a date night like they would like.

Instead, they often improvise by having date night in the basement when the kids have fallen asleep. They have a movie night or game night and special meals. They don’t have to pay a sitter, or even leave their home – but what they do achieve is valuable mom and dad, I mean husband and wife time.

Makes me wish I had a basement.

Kerri Kava is the Newspapers in Education coordinator for The Forum. Her 4-year-old son, Carter, lives with Williams syndrome.

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