Parenting Perspectives: Keep doing your best, let go of the mom guilt

It's time to get serious around here. I'm ready to face the ongoing topic of "mom guilt." The blogospheres would have us believe that moms feel guilty for pretty much everything we do - and don't do. If we stay home, we feel guilty that we're not...

Nicole Welle
Nicole Welle

It’s time to get serious around here.
I’m ready to face the ongoing topic of “mom guilt.”
The blogospheres would have us believe that moms feel guilty for pretty much everything we do – and don’t do. If we stay home, we feel guilty that we’re not contributing to our family’s bottom line. If we work outside the home, we feel guilty that someone else is raising our kids.
It’s gotten to the point where feeling guilty has become a necessary badge of motherhood. If you’re not feeling guilty, then you must be doing it wrong.
In addition to the stay-at-home vs. work-outside tug-of-war, there’s the guilt that doesn’t get mentioned on our glossy social media feeds. It’s the unspoken question, the one that makes us wonder if we’re bad moms. It gets some lip service in mom circles, but usually with a feigned tone that implies “I’m only kidding though.”
Let’s face it, sometimes we face guilt over the fact that we – gasp – don’t want to be around our kids 24/7. Heck, sometimes just a few hours with my kids is more than enough, much less an entire day.
In the past, I’ve been guilty of feeling guilty for not feeling guilty. How messed up is that?
My husband and I went on a trip last year. Two weeks in Italy, just us. It had been a top item on our dream list since before we were married, and the timing was right. The boys were 3½ and 1½, and I wasn’t pregnant or nursing.
We arranged for each set of grandparents to take the kids for a week. My oldest couldn’t stop talking about how he was going to go on “vacation,” too. It was a win-win-win.
Yet, I remember coming to my husband and asking, “Am I a bad mom because I don’t feel guilty for leaving them? Should I be more distressed to be away for two weeks? Does this mean I don’t love them enough?”
Like a good (smart) husband, he reassured me that of course I was a good mom and those thoughts were ridiculous. Just look at how happy they were! I was letting other moms’ insecurities and the outside pressures undermine my confidence and cause me to question my intuition.
But no more. I am here to announce that I, Nicole, am free of mom guilt. As such, I do proudly declare:

  • My priorities are my faith, my spouse and my children – in that order.
  • I love my children unequivocally, equally and differently.
  • I am a better, happier person when my days are filled with variety, including deep conversations, baby giggles, sunshine and a glass of wine. This makes me a better parent.
  • I am doing my best, in the unique way that is best for me and my family.

No doubt about it, this parenting thing is an ongoing roller coaster ride. Some days are better than others, and there’s always an area that needs improvement. But when I give myself an honest gut-check, do I find anything that I’m neglecting, that I really and truly need to feel guilty about? I don’t think so. I am doing my best.
So why do I make these declarations? (Hint: It’s got nothing to do with comparison or judgment.)
Because there’s nothing glorious in being a guilt-ridden parent, and there’s nothing helpful in constantly second-guessing.
If you’ve been consciously neglecting what’s best for your kids, then make a change and let it go. Parenting is hard enough already; we don’t need to add to the challenge by worrying about what we’re not feeling guilty about!
Let’s eradicate the mom guilt conversation. Make your own declarations that you will feel guilty no more.
So keep doing your best, mama. Own your choices with pride. And leave the guilt at the (hospital) door.

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