I was asked to talk about this today. Mom guilt. I think this is a topic that every mom can relate to as we’ve all walked through seasons of our lives where we feel like we are not enough. And with that, comes immense guilt that we are completely failing as a parent, spouse, boss…etc. etc. I don’t feel qualified to write about this topic today because, frankly, I am a hot mess! I forget everything. I do everything wrong. I’m always running late. I have killed every single house plant I have ever owned. At this point, I just feel blessed that my family is still alive. I don’t know, maybe that makes me uber qualified because with all that, I feel like I’m failing every single day and I carry the weight of “am I enough?” every where I go. But we’re going to talk about it! Oh yeah! Because I truly believe that ignoring it can only lead to one thing… spontaneous combustion! So let’s just get right into it….
I think most moms can agree that being able to have a baby is one of the most incredible gifts that we can ever be blessed with. For most of us, we become moms as soon as we see those two pink lines or that digital, in-your-face, black and white, no-turning-back-now, “pregnant” word pop up on a pee stick. (you know what I’m talking about!) The instant we learn that we have a tiny human growing inside of us, our hearts grow three sizes. We are so inundated with emotions that we quite honestly can hardly keep it together. Elated. Scared. Sad. Worried. So worried all the time. It’s never ending. I can remember going to the beach when I was pregnant with Lilly, my first baby, and thinking, “I probably shouldn’t go in the water, what if I’m attacked by a shark?!” Yes! that was a real, honest-to-God thought that I had. Everything inside of me was focused on one thing and one thing only, keeping my baby happy, healthy, and alive!!! Was I exercising enough? Was I exercising too much? Was I eating all the right foods? Was I staying away from all the bad foods? Does this have caffeine? Is this good for the baby? Admittedly, I was a neurotic mess…. As most first time moms are. And it certainly didn’t get any better once she arrived. Don’t even get me started on the overwhelming pressure of “breast is best”! There are so many choices to make as a parent and it is impossible to tell the future and know for certain that you are choosing the right choice for your baby. But when you make a choice, you just have to ride it out and hope for the best… worrying the whole time that you might have just screwed their entire lives up! But with all of that worrying, we are giving ourselves permission to feel guilty. That is where it all starts. I don’t think that worrying is a bad thing but I do believe we need to balance it with giving ourselves grace.
Let’s be real! I could probably go on and on and on about the different ways we as moms throw ourselves under the bus day in and day out and continuously beat ourselves up over it! Heck… I could probably write a whole book on the topic because it is seemingly never ending. So let’s just all admit one thing. We are going to fail. Why? Because we are human. We are going to drop the ball at some point because life is hard and as women we all try this impossible balancing act of walking a tight rope while juggling flaming chainsaws in the air. Why? Why do we do that to ourselves? Because we as society have imposed this picture perfect ideal of what a mom should look like, act like, be like…. join the PTA. Stay at home. Bake after school snacks. Do arts and crafts projects. Sign your kids up for dance lessons, the soccer team, play dates, swimming lessons. Schedule seasonal family photo shoots with coordinating outfits. Decorate your house to perfection. Host elaborate birthday parties. Stay in shape. Look beautiful at all times. Be a supportive spouse. Cater to your husbands needs. Cook delicious dinners that are healthy and balanced… that your kids will actually eat…. And some of us, myself included, work full time jobs ON TOP of all of this! Anyone else feeling exhausted yet?! And then life happens. The dog runs away. The dinner is burnt. Your daughter hates dance lessons. The baby screams bloody murder during your picture perfect photo shoot. You don’t get along with the other moms at the play date. You and your husband are arguing all the time and you don’t even know why. You are constantly running late to everything you plan because your plate is so full you don’t have room for error (but your life is full of error). And you find yourself sitting in your car bawling your eyes out because…. You. Can’t. Do. It. All! Defeat.
What if you were never meant to do it all in the first place? If you are in a place where you are feeling defeated and burnt out and you are carrying this weight on your shoulders like you have failed your family, then you need to stop right now. Stop what you are doing and really look at your life and ask yourself why? Why are you really doing everything you are doing? Why are you filling your schedule to the brim? What is really important to you? Evaluate the situation because if you don’t, it’s not going to work itself out. It’s not going to get better. You need to take a good hard look at what you are doing day to day and ask yourself why am I doing this and is it important. And if the answer is no, it’s not important, then stop. Get rid of it. You don’t need it in your life and chances are, your kids don’t need it either. You know what they do need? A mom that is sane that loves them and shows them that in abundance every single day. Honestly, let’s just get back to basics.
Stop worrying about whether or not you are doing enough and just start being present. Are you going to cry in the car or are you going to show up for your life? Stop saying yes to everything out of obligation and start living a life with intention. Envision the life that you want and create it with purpose. Prioritize what is most important in your life. Make a physical list of the must haves and be honest and realistic. Let go of everything else. Let it go! And once you let it go, don’t pick it back up again. We are women and we are strong! We can do amazing things like push watermelons through holes the size of lemons! That is pretty incredible! We create life! Stop feeling guilty, because if you are a mom and you are showing your people that you love them, then that is enough. You are exactly enough right where you are!
And when life happens and you forget the deadline for the book order or that it is your day to bring the half time snacks or that it’s teacher appreciation week, just remember, you are not alone. Go back to your list. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Are you hitting what’s most important? Yes? Then don’t worry about the rest. I promise you, you are not going to ruin your kids lives as long as you show up.