GAUGING THE MOM GUILT
You’ve been there. I've been there. It's an emotional inconvenient response and you're drowning in it.
My friend is considering early retirement. Yes, in her early forties, most people would shun the idea, laugh explicably hollering, are you kidding? But you see, she’s been working in her field since her early twenties, supporting her family, (while her husband finished his schooling), while giving birth to 3 children. You see, she’s a badass, totally capable of working another 20 years, but she’s considering stepping out, in an effort to balance out the needs of her family and also be home with her children, something she’s never done because she’s worked full time her entire career. She’s excited about the idea, but also frightened. And she feels the guilt already creeping in like a sneaky little bitch.
“But what about my clients, my practice, what if I am wrong and this isn’t the time? What if I bow out and I’m not fulfilled? I already feel so guilty thinking about it.”
Guilt is a fu*ker. It’s mean, waning and consuming every mother on the planet. It just doesn’t let up. To any mother who feels shame in your guilt game, you’re not alone. But it’s time to gauge the guilt with a fork to the eye.
My friend who stays home with 3 kids was ridiculed by a man in the checkout isle at the grocery for not breastfeeding her baby in an effort to shut him up. She was in the “under 15 items” line and she knew she had more than 15 items, but she had her hands abundantly full and let’s be honest, when you see a mother with her hands full, give her a damn break. But instead, the man uttered something of the nature of “give that kid a bottle”. Yep. But because she didn’t have a bottle with a price on it, the cashier went to grab one in order to scan it and everyone had to wait. By now she was mortified (as any mother would guess) and by the time the cashier came back and the bottle was made, the guy still shouted out “you should’ve just breast fed him.” Holding back tears of shame, guilt and good fashioned anger, she simply said “I’ve breast fed all three of my children and now this one takes a bottle.” She paid her grocery bill and walked out tears filling her guilty laden eyes. The guilt is bullshit, and so was the man in the check out aisle.
You see in motherhood, we often find ourselves doing our jobs half ass. We aren't, it just feels that way. We work part time from home while the littles play with the sitter in the other room and we hear them cry and we feel the itch to go make it better. And if we don’t, we feel the guilt. We stay home with the babies full time and we press “order now” for the handbag we’ve coveted all year and we feel the tinge of guilt as the fingers touch the return button on the laptop. We work full time outside the home and we come back at 5 pm to the kiddos who cry when the full time nanny leaves, wailing tears of “don’t leave". Or you’re stuck at the office at 6:30 p.m or the airport and you don’t make it home for night night snuggles. It’s constant. And can often be heartbreaking. We love our kids, we love our jobs, we love ourselves. So where’s the give on the guilt scale?
There isn’t. We just got to let it go. And do the best we can.
In a day and age where the expectations of women are growing exponentially, the mother expectation continues to stay at its peak with no signs of letting down. You see it’s formulated in our DNA. We strive to be excellent in all areas of our lives and we get it done. We always get it done. But is it excellent? And why is there always the feeling of guilt of someone not getting it completely right?
The key to unlocking this shame and guilt is the ride. The one that we’re fortunate enough to be on. The moments we take where we recognize our worth and our job well done. If we focus on the negative or the unreasonable outcomes, we lose. We win when we revel in the sheer celebration of the moment. We succeed when we celebrate our successes may they be large or small. We don’t underestimate the power of our jobs as mothers, as wives, as women. We continue to praise each other in the journey, supporting the movement behind that and shunning the “others” that make us feel guilty. We don’t have time for the “others”. And the "others" might also include your inner critic voice. Listen. We are the movers and the shakers. The dreamers and the believers. We are raising the readers, the growers, the lovers, the achievers. We are doing our best and that is enough to tell guilt to go screw himself. We are doing enough. Look at your kiddos. When they smile at you and call you momma, they show you. It's a beaming light shining out of their innocent eyes displaying the truth of your worth. And that's when you know. And that’s when you let it go. They think you’re some kind of wonderful. And you are. You’re a hero. Don’t let the guilt or anyone every say it isn’t so.