Let's chat a little about mom guilt. Any mom that says they haven’t felt it, is either lying to you or lying to themselves. Upwards of 90% of moms feel guilt on a regular basis.
Before we examine some of the most recurring sources of mom guilt, I want to differentiate between guilt and shame. Brene Brown, a master at discussing vulnerability, shame, and resilience, made the distinction very clear for me. Guilt is when you have done something that is, in her words, bad. I define it as doing something that does not align with who you are. Shame is the belief that you ARE bad. You ARE a bad mother, wife, etc. Guilt can be used as a guidepost. It can actually be useful. When we recognize that we are having feelings of guilt, we can do a little self-check to see what we need to do to realign our actions with our souls. There is nothing good about shame. Shame makes us hurt. It makes us feel bad, because it is a personal attack on our true selves, often in the places we are already feeling the least confident. Shame has got to go. If we can learn to let it go, we will feel so much lighter.
So let’s talk about some of the main triggers for parent guilt or shame, and what you can do about them.
Many moms feel that if they aren't entertaining their children all the time, they are letting them down. We all read What to Expect When You Are Expecting. I don’t recall the chapter that said you must be busy all the time. You must play with your kids or do laundry every second of the day. In the past, I have written about helicopter parening, and the need for children to be able to try things on their own. They need to try to walk, or run, or climb or whatever. The same holds true here. They need to try to entertain themselves. If we are their main source of entertainment, what will happen when you absolutely have to take that phone call, or pay those bills, or...whatever? Let’s take it a step further. What is going to happen when they are in a relationship, and their significant other can’t pay attention to them all the time….let that play out in your mind. As always, I am not shaming you if you are 24/7 hanging with your kids! I am giving you permission to say, “Not right now…” They will be ok. I swear it!
Another trigger, and one of the most common, is a feeling of inadequacy? Feel me on this one? I know you have felt it before. I don’t know how it got there, maybe Mrs. Cleaver, or Mrs. Huxtable made us think we could be perfect, but we can’t. We can't be perfect, and we can't do it all! We feel bad about our cooking, or lack of cooking. Our work time vs. home time. Our bodies. The time we allow in front of Netflix. I could go on and on and on. the guilt and self doubt pops up everywhere.
So where do you put that guilt? How do you quiet it? The only thing you can do is the extremely hard work of retraining your brain. You, and only you, have to work hard every day to remind yourself that you are doing the best you can. You don’t have to do it all. You don’t have to do it perfectly.
Here’s what I challenge you to do. When you have some quiet time to yourself, sit alone in a comfy place. Quiet your mind. Just sit and breathe for a few minutes, then ask yourself what really is important to you. Just let the thoughts flow for a while. Sort out what is important to you and separate those things from the things that are important to your spouse, or your kids, or your parents. What is important to YOU?? Once you’ve sifted through all the crap, write down the top 3-5 things that rise to the top. Now kick ass at those! Let the rest go!!! Let go of what you can, and hold tight onto only those things that are extremely important to you.
Peek below at the journal prompt for this week, and the link to the Podcast where I discuss mom guilt in more detail. Next week, the newsletter will dive into more guilt triggers. Meantime, I encourage you to download the free eBook, Four Pillars of Mindful Parenting.