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The Reality of “Mom” Guilt

Let’s be honest, the reality of “mom” guilt is real, but I am not just here to talk to moms.  This type of guilt not only applies to mothers, but to anyone who takes on the role of primary caregivers.  This includes, but is not limited to mothers, fathers, grandparents, guardians, foster parents, etc., but the reality of this guilt is real.  It is unbiased and doesn’t matter if you are a stay-at-home caregiver or a full-time working caregiver, it can hit at any moment or time.

As a mother of two, I feel this deep within my soul.  When my children were babies, before starting school, I often found myself feeling so guilty going to work at times because I worried that I would miss important milestones such as their first giggle, first steps, first words, etc.  Looking back at that time in my life, I remember telling myself the guilt will pass and it is just a phase in life.  But let’s be COMPLETELY honest here, guilt doesn’t pass, it just molds and changes along with our children as they grow.  Now, the guilt of missing sporting events, needing to rely on others to get my children places, being unavailable to volunteer at a school bookfair are the things that bring that guilt to light now and trying to combat the guilt at times can feel very exhausting.

I remember back in 2019, when my husband was deployed for a year to Afghanistan and I was the only parent physically available for my children, it really wore on me.  In all honesty, Covid was a blessing in my life as it made it, so I was able to be available and present 24/7.  In those times I really had no choice but to rely on others to see that all aspects of my children’s life were able to be in full function.  When they say it takes a village, take it from me it really takes a village.  At that time, I was able to work to change my perspective on mom guilt.  My village was showing up every day out of love and care, not only for my little ones, but for the love and care they hold for my family, so with that it really brought to light the pay it forward perspective.  I have been able to be part of someone else’s village, I make myself available.

Don’t get me wrong, the presence of this guilt has never gone away, but I work very hard to allow myself the same grace that I give other mothers, fathers, or caregivers.  When I see other parents having to miss things or stressing over being able to be present, I would NEVER judge them for that.  Some things in life are out of our control and unfortunately, we need money to survive. So, why am I so hard on myself?  Why can’t I give myself the same grace?  The answer?  Because I love my children so much that I feel being at every life event is necessary to show them that love, but we show love in so many other ways.  We do this in the little acts we don’t think about, such as tucking them into bed at night, asking how their day was, being there as a shoulder to cry on, all the things as parents we feel are just expected.  Those are the ways that truly show we care, and we are here for them.

So, with that, it is important that we care for ourselves the same way that we care for the ones we care for day in and day out.  Parenting can be EXHAUSTING.  It is okay for you to take time for yourself. 

Hold on, let me say that louder for the people in the back. IT IS OKAY TO TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF.  I say this because you truly can’t pour from an empty cup.  The stress of parenting, working, taking care of a home, etc. takes its toll.  So, it is important for YOU to take care of YOU too so that you are able to do all these things for others. 

Some suggestions for self-care are, but not limited to:

  • Going for a walk by yourself or with a friend.
  • Make time to engage in a hobby that you enjoy or have been wanting to try.
  • Get coffee with a friend.
  • Journal
  • Meditate
  • Listen to music or even better go to that concert that you’ve been putting off

What I am saying is do the things that your soul has been craving but you’ve been pushing away because the voice of that guilt is so strong.

Why is this important? It is important not only because you can’t pour from an empty cup, but also you are modeling for the child(ren) in your life that you are important to and that for them, they are also important and that it is okay to feel that and take care of themselves too.  And in my own thoughts and in my heart, my hope is that by teaching my children this, no matter how hard it is for me, that maybe, just maybe the “mom” guilt that they feel, if and when they have children, will at least not play such a big role for them in their life because they will have learned that it is okay to love yourself and make yourself a priority too.

It truly is all about balance, and when you feel like you are alone and no one would understand, try talking with another parent.  I can almost guarantee you that they can relate on some level.  Feeling this guilt is normal, but it doesn’t have to own you.  Remember, it takes a village and YOU GOT THIS!!  And those littles will still love you if you make time for yourself and maybe you’ll be able to enjoy them more having shown that same love to yourself.

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