Mom Guilt

Friday, May 26, 2023

Get Present/Mom Guilt

Nurturing and Overcoming Mom Guilt: A Journey of Self-Compassion

What it is, how to talk about it, and what to do with it!

Motherhood is a remarkable and rewarding experience, filled with immeasurable love and joy. However, it also comes with a side dish of guilt ... sometimes we refer to this feeling as "mom guilt." Whether it's worrying about being a good enough parent, balancing work and family, or questioning every decision made, mom guilt can be all-consuming.

Simply googling "mom guilt" can flood you with a ton of information out there about how you shouldn't feel it or even that it doesn't exist. The reality is that many of us do have this experience and continue on as if it is normal and part of the process of mothering. Whether or not this is such a common phenomenon that it is now a "normal" experience, if left alone guilt can cause us to make decisions and parent in a way that is not best for us or our children.

Just in the last week or so these are some of the headlines:

Jennifer Lopez's Mom Guilt Stems From ...

Kim Kardashian Opens Up About 'Mom Guilt' ...

Do You Suffer From 'Mom Guilt'?

In this blog post, we will explore what mom guilt is, the common triggers to help us identify when we are feeling it, how to talk about it with loved ones so it's not secretly hiding in the unconscious, and some ideas of what to do with it so that we can continue to make conscious choices in our parenting.

Understanding Mom Guilt:
Mom guilt is a pervasive feeling of anxiety, self-doubt, and remorse experienced by mothers, triggered by the fear of falling short in their role as a parent. It can manifest in various ways, such as feeling guilty for taking time for oneself, being away from the child, not being able to meet societal expectations, or making parenting mistakes. While mom guilt can stem from genuinely caring for our children's well-being, it can also be intensified by societal pressures, unrealistic standards, and the constant comparison to other parents.

Maybe you’re the mom with baby in carrier that feels like you can’t sit down and feeling bad for wanting to. You know once you sit the baby will fuss, or wake up, and you think to yourself "it's just easier to stay standing." So everyone else sits and enjoys their drinks and you are standing next to the table, trying to participate in the conversation, yet still alone in that you're the one with a baby strapped to you and not able to sit at the table and enjoy with everyone else.

Maybe you’re the mom taking care of business cause you’re not sure anyone else will and you’re tired. You want someone to take care of you for a change, but you worry that either they won't or they do not know how. You ask your partner to do something and they either argue with you that it doesn't need to be done or they do it in a way that doesn't feel right or complete. Ever read the book "The Little Red Hen?"

We all love the image of the mana elephant leading the heard … what happens if mama needs a minute? What happens if mama isn't leading at the moment? What happens to the herd? Does another adult take over? An older sibling? Are the children left alone in the wild?

We know we can't leave our children on our own, so what do we do? We find ourselves looking at nothing that matters on our phones just to get a second to ourselves. We space out, sign them up for a million classes and activities, give them the screens to pacify them for a while. Bottom line is that we do what we need to do. I would like us to entertain the idea of doing more. Of making conscious choices to do better for them which means doing better for ourselves.

Sometimes it feels like there’s a drone hovering over me catching every little thing that I say or do that’s not being the best mom. The guilt sets in and I do whatever I can to get rid of the feeling. But what am I really so afraid of? Am I feeling guilty because I have done something so bad and wrong? Do I translate that into shame - not only do I feel like I have done something wrong (guilt) but that means that I am bad (shame). Am I really a bad mother just because I feel in this moment that I'm not doing my best?

Common Triggers of Mom Guilt:
1. Work-life balance: Juggling professional responsibilities and family life can be challenging, leading to guilt when feeling torn between the two.
2. Self-care guilt: Mothers often prioritize their children's needs above their own, feeling guilty when taking time for self-care or pursuing personal interests.
3. Parenting decisions: Doubts may arise when making choices about discipline, education, nutrition, or screen time, wondering if it's the "right" way to raise a child.
4. Comparison trap: Comparing oneself to other seemingly perfect parents or social media portrayals can foster feelings of inadequacy and guilt.
5. Time spent with children: When busy schedules limit the amount of quality time spent with children, moms may feel guilty for not being fully present.

Talking About Mom Guilt with Loved Ones:
1. Seek support: Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or online communities where you can openly discuss your feelings without fear of judgment. Connecting with other moms who understand can provide comfort and perspective. We are building this community here with Presence in Parenting.
2. Communicate with your partner: Share your concerns and guilt with your partner. Open dialogue can help both of you navigate the challenges of parenting together and find shared solutions. One of the best ways to not feel alone is to NOT BE ALONE. In order to combat our feelings of being alone is to open up and be vulnerable with a partner. Once you have someone who can see, hear, and understand you, you will find time and space to value yourself and feel like a better human which then translates into feeling like a better parent. 
3. Self-talk: I know this may sound "crazy" that I'm advocating for you to talk to yourself, but it is very true. Whether you hear it or not, you are having conversations with yourself all the time. Start by listening ... when you notice you are feeling guilty, try to hear the story that is going on in your head. Once you begin to hear what you are saying to yourself you can then challenge the negative thoughts. Talk to yourself the way you want to talk to your child, with loving compassion. See what happens.

What To Do About It:
1. Self-reflection: Start by acknowledging your feelings of guilt and recognizing that it's a common experience among mothers. Self-awareness is the first step towards self-compassion.
2. Set realistic expectations: Understand that perfection is unattainable and that every parent has their unique approach. Focus on doing your best rather than striving for an impossible ideal.
3. Practice self-care guilt-free: Prioritize self-care without guilt. Taking care of your own well-being enables you to be a more present and fulfilled parent.
4. Embrace imperfection: Remember that mistakes are an integral part of parenting. Instead of dwelling on them, learn from them and use them as opportunities for growth.
5. Challenge societal expectations: Remind yourself that you are not alone in facing the pressures of society. Question and challenge unrealistic standards that contribute to mom guilt.

Mom guilt is an emotional burden that many mothers face, often stemming from love and a desire to provide the best for their children. However, it's crucial to address and overcome these feelings to lead a balanced and fulfilled life. By talking about mom guilt with loved ones, seeking support, and practicing self-compassion, you can gradually let go of guilt and embrace the imperfectly beautiful journey of motherhood. Remember, you are doing an incredible job, and your love and care make all the difference. Let's keep talking! Sign up for my list and get access to the free workshop on Mom Guilt 5/31/23 at 7:00PM PST.

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Hi, I Am Dr Erica

Presence in Parenting®

I want this parenting blog to be a valuable resource for parents seeking information and support. It should provide a platform for parents to connect with others and share their experiences, while also providing access to expert advice and resources on a wide range of parenting topics. If you have any ideas for future topics that you have questions about, let me know!

In no way are any of these articles to be considered clinical advice or part of therapy. If you are looking for those services, please contact me for a referral.

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