The Nest: Mom Guilt
I ran into a good friend at work this week and she has an 8 month old so we aren’t walking that far apart from each other in our journey. We exchanged the normal, quick 5 minute synopsis of our lives in the hallway. We asked each other about the important stuff: “How’s the baby?”, “How are you?”, and finally “God, this is harder than I thought.”…
It is so difficult being a working mom. It is so difficult being a stay-at-home mom. It is just, difficult. You need to work towards a comfortable setting, rhythm, and definition of a mother for yourself or you awkwardly fidget in your daily life. I didn’t expect I would end so many of my personal wants with a question mark after becoming a mother:
- I’d love to go to the gym - but wouldn’t that mean missing time with my little man?
- I would love to get a manicure - but doesn’t that end with missing bed time?
- I want to make happy hour - but isn’t that an hour I miss with my baby?
I used to think of spending money in relative terms of filling up my gas tank. If I spend $20.00 on this incredibly cute sweater, then that is ⅓ of a tank of gas. I approach the time away from my child in the same manner. If I spend “X’” amount of time doing this, then that is less time spent with him. I don’t want to miss a second of his life.
So, I guess I will end this blog letting you know that I am perfectly fine just suffering through, wrinkled up and dehydrating, with an un-manicured set of nails. Is that the point of motherhood? Does my suffering and sacrifice measure my love for my son?
I know my answer is “no”, because I never regret the time I spend on myself. Once I am at the gym, I don’t regret my workout. I don’t regret my manicure when I look down and see my nails. I also don’t regret a happy hour because it makes me feel connected and loved. I find value in the time I spend being who I know I still am. After all, that woman that I was/am made the decision to have this life-changing, little human. I like her decisions and I need to continue to trust them.
We talk about mental health and the need to address a destructive thought upon its arrival, but do we ever talk about mom guilt? Do we ever support the metabolism of this emotion in our daily lives? How do I know that I am doing right by my child, my family, and myself in ensuring I acknowledge my feelings and can navigate them?
So many questions, and SO many opinions. I think it is time to write a list of the statements I’ve told myself in the last couple of months.
- You are valuable.
You are the most valuable thing to your child, outside of milk of course. If we could even tap into the value of ourselves through the eyes of our children, we would have a completely different mindset and approach to our self-care. Your child needs you to be healthy, happy, and well-cared for. They need you to feel included and worthy. Do what you need to, so that you attribute value to your life.
- You are making an impact.
You bought their favorite toy in the store, you spent your afternoon laughing and goofing off with them, and you are ensuring the world has a kind human being coming into its midst. You make an impact each day of motherhood. You make an impact at your job and each day you let your child see you step into a professional role or a spousal role to accomplish what your family and household needs to provide for them. This is impactful in so many different ways. There are little eyes on you at all times, and they mirror us. We are the biggest impact on their lives, in the subtle and massive ways. If you haven't accomplished much in your work day and you come home and smile or laugh with your children, you have made an enormous impact. You have modeled for them resiliency and your impact is not just professional but personal.
- You belong.
I have felt the most extreme loneliness in motherhood. Breastfeeding was as rewarding as it was lonely for me. There I said it. I am not a mother that felt a magical, never-ending breastfeeding bond each and every time I fed my son. Most times, yes. But breastfeeding in public at that birthday party, traveling to a family member’s home with a screaming toddler, or trying to feed, soothe, calm - or just get our lives under control - made me feel so lonely. Sometimes I cried at night because I just couldn’t connect back to who I was due to the busy nature of our lives. I needed to self-invest, talk a walk, or get outside. At these times, I needed to know that I belonged. I will tell you momma, you are not alone. I am here, your friends are here, and your child is here for you. You belong.
I don’t know of a way to obliterate mom-guilt because I think it goes hand-in-hand with the worry I will have over my child for the rest of his life. Everything in moderation. I do, however; think it is important to realize there is a time when you need to work-out your guilt and apprehensions about your self-investment. I love to work on my physical health, but I’ve been investing more in my mental fitness recently. If I am mentally fit, I am better equipped to handle what comes my way, including mom-guilt.