Just that term alone brings a flurry of negative emotions to my gut. Ugh...
Why is this such a thing? Why do we all feel the same negative emotions surrounding the job that we are doing raising our little humans?
For example, I feel guilty that I yelled at my kids so many times today. I feel guilty that I don't LOVE nursing my new baby. I feel guilty that I don't feed the older ones healthy food all the time. I feel guilty that they watch TV. I feel guilty that I don't always enjoy playing with them. I feel guilty that I enjoy time to myself. I feel guilty when my house is messy and heck, I even feel guilty when I take the time to clean.
Seriously, you can't win.
Let's not even get into the really controversial stuff...you know, like vaccinating or not vaccinating (though I'm sure I'd manage to feel guilty either way). Co-sleeping or crib sleeping. When do you turn that car seat around? Need I go on?
WHY DO SOME MANY OF US FEEL THIS INESCAPABLE GUILT?
It's especially confusing because most of us are pretty much killing it...loving our kids hard, keeping their bellies full, keeping a roof over their heads, and not losing our minds completely...AKA SUCCEEDING at this "mom" thing!
You know why I think we feel so darn guilty? The reason why we always feel like we should be doing something better?
Because we are always comparing ourselves to moms around us. To the mom who always seems to keep her cool. To the mom who breastfed her babies for a full year and loved it. To the mom who buys all organic food. To the mom who never lets her kids watch TV. To the mom who never wants to be apart from her kids. To the mom who is always on the floor playing. And of course, to the mom with the spotless house (who also never seems to spend time cleaning...How does she do that?!).
Social media doesn't help. We are all seeing "highlight reels" of each other's lives and comparing our own "behind the scenes." After all, it's not very appealing to post a picture of yourself looking like a zombie making PB&J's while your kids watch videos on YouTube of other kids PLAYING WITH TOYS (don't even get me started on that one). So we post a family selfie full of smiles being careful not to get that mess on the floor in the picture.
Social media displays a distorted reality. We should know this by now. But we still feel like we don't measure up.
Truth bomb here...
WE ARE ALL A HOT MESS!
Every one of us doubts ourselves. And we are all doing the best we can. OK, I get that there are a few unnatural exceptions to this but for the most part, we're all genuinely rocking mommyhood.
The "perfection" you are aiming for does not exist. The other moms who you envy are just like you, worrying about what they are doing wrong or what they should be doing better.
If you aren't playing the mommy version "keeping up with Joneses," then good for you! It's a terrible game to play. But maybe you are measuring yourself against your own expectations and because of these unreasonable standards, you feel like you're failing.
Look, there is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to be a better mother. I'm not discouraging that by any means. If you believe that there is some aspect of mothering you can improve, try every day to do better than the day before.
I'm not encouraging you to simply roll over, be lazy and become a subpar parent. Even if I was suggesting that, you wouldn't do it anyway. Because that's not who you are and not what you want for your kids. You WANT to be a good mom. That's why you feel the way that you do. It's great to strive to be better.
But you absolutely should ditch the mom guilt. Stop beating yourself up for every single mistake. Stop beating yourself up for not having all the answers. Stop beating yourself up because you told yourself that you would be better today and failed.
Ironically, this pressure that you put on yourself is sign that you're a pretty awesome mom already. If you weren't, you wouldn't care about how you're supposedly screwing up, would you?
Face it though, you're not doing your kids any favors by torturing yourself. The only thing you are accomplishing is that you're making yourself miserable. And we all know that a miserable mommy is good for no one.
Give yourself some grace, Momma. You love those kiddos. And even though they drive you bonkers, you would do anything for them.
And I'm willing to bet that those little ones think that they have a pretty amazing mom. You know why? Because they do. ♥