Thursday, February 02, 2012

On Mommy Guilt

There seems to be a common theme among my friends lately (my real friends in real life, some of whom blog and some do not) and that is huge guilt over their inadequacies as mothers. Mommy guilt. I don't think you could find a mother who didn't experience it in some form.
No matter what she is doing or juggling or how much success there is always a feeling of not doing enough or not being good enough or that somehow our children are suffering or are being wounded with deep life long scars because of us.
My own list of inadequacies and shortcomings goes up and around the block and then trails off into the woods somewhere...

My point is that I know these women.
Not every intimate detail of their lives, but I know their character. I know how they sacrifice and give up their time and energy and work for their children and families. They make meals from scratch, they study and ponder how best to feed them, they home school, they take children to endless appts and doctors. They fight for their rights and fight for their children to be treated with decency. The have husbands who work long hours or away from home. Most of them have part time jobs or health conditions to juggle. They do fancy birthday parties!!

And yet they (we - the collective or royal 'We') all feel like it's not enough. It's kind of like we're all in some wild reality show where we're given crazy challenges but we can't stop beating ourselves up for not completing each one without stumbling or getting our feet caught along the way.

Sometimes when I need to give myself a pep-talk I try to see myself as I would see my child. I don't expect them to be perfect (well, maybe once in a while I hope they will be) and it hurts me to hear them beating them selves up for their mistakes or shortcomings. How could they possibly
get it all right? What would be the point if they did?

And so I would say to them (and to me and to you) I know you're trying really hard. And even if it's not your best effort every single minute of every day, I know you want what's best for your kids and your family. And it takes everything you have. And it's not easy or fun to juggle all the things you are responsible for. And when you have a difficult day or week just take a deep breath and keep going. And the next day will be better. Or the next after that.

Give yourself a break. And look for those moments when you can see the progress you're making. They do exist and you are making progress.
What you're doing is extraordinary. No one else can do for your children and family what you do. Even if they don't appreciate or know it yet. You are extraordinary!
And think of the funny stories our kids will have to tell when they grow up!

(We are the only ones who feel bad if they eat fast food, or get notes from their teacher - the kids are FINE. And they forget stuff ALL THE TIME. Why aren't we allowed to forget things sometimes??)

I have a new found appreciation for pain these days. Pain is an indicator. It gets our attention and makes us look at something we may have otherwise ignored. Even as a parent pain sometimes points me in a direction I need to focus on. However self induced pain and suffering just makes more misery. End the suffering!!

And if you haven't read these already you might find some inspiration/a good laugh here:
End the Suffering
Chronos vs Kairos

Much love to you my friends!


Daisy Patch said...

Thanks for the encouragement Mrs. Two mittens. I know perfectionism gets the better of me all the time.I wonder why can't I be like so-and-so or how come I can't.....(fill in the blank). It is certainly a journey to be comfortable in your own mom skin, isn't it.By the way I think you are a great mom! :)

Two Mittens said...

Right back at you Mrs. Daisy!

Housewife said...

Awwww....Mrs. Mittens, as I sit with a treasured glass of red wine, with sand dust on my hands, in my husbands ugly grey tshirt, my hair in a ponytail for the third day in a row, chinese take out leftovers on the island, no stove, no furniture....but the children are sleeping and only one is in my bed...I am so blessed to be your friend and smile and blink back a tear at your post.
Your PROFOUND look at mommy guilt is oh, so right. Did our mothers' ever feel this? I'm sure mine didn't! I'm sure....???? Yes, I am! ("I'll give you something to cry about!")
You are a wonderful mom...and friend....thank you.

Jamie said...

:) Beautiful post. Thank you.