I’ve written before about how toxic positivity can be a major problem for moms… But you know what goes hand in hand with that? Mom guilt! No matter where you look, it seems to be everywhere- all of the things you should and should not be doing, all of the things you should and should not be feeling, and how no matter how much you’re doing, you should be doing more. As women, and especially as moms, we tend to set the bar way too high for ourselves. And society definitely doesn’t help.
We have an unlimited source of competition.
Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, pinterest… No matter what platform you go onto, you’re going to be able to see some picture perfect moments. Family trips to the beach, adorable (and super healthy) lunch boxes, beautiful playrooms and spotless kitchens… We see matching outfits and happy smiles and hear speeches on gentle parenting, expensive toys and big experiences… And we sit in our own messy living rooms, drinking our coffee cold because we can’t be bothered to reheat it for a fifth time, praying that maybe the kids will take a nap today and you might have a chance to catch up on the laundry or the dishes or maybe even take a shower.
We forget that not everything is what it seems.
Sleep deprivation is part of the package when it comes to being a parent. That can sometimes play a huge role in making us forget that these posts on social media are usually staged, edited and pre-planned. Or at the very least, that they’re only showcasing their best moments and leaving a lot out. Instead we see these curated moments that look perfect and we start wondering why our own lives aren’t as glamorous or amazing. We feel that mom guilt because we aren’t ‘pinterest moms’ building these same core memories with our own kids- are they missing out? Are we bad moms if we turn to frozen chicken nuggets again when our kids won’t eat anything else? Am I doing something wrong? Should I be doing more?
Am I a bad mom?
I’ve heard that if you’ve ever wondered if you’re a bad mom, that’s usually a sign that you’re a pretty good one. The reasoning behind this is that if you were a bad mom, you wouldn’t care enough to wonder about it. I believe this is pretty sound logic and it should be a comfort to so many of us. However, when it comes down to it, logic doesn’t always win. Our emotions do. And when you’re tired, hormonal, touched out, and constantly seeing or hearing about all of the things you’re supposed to be doing- our emotions tend to get carried away. So instead of celebrating our victories and relishing in all of the glory that is motherhood, we wallow in self-pity, self-hatred, and guilt.
We’re taught to be selfless.
Society teaches us that our kids come first. Or our husbands come first. Our jobs, our homes, our education. Even as kids, we’re taught that we have to share, we have to be quiet, we have to reign it in. Don’t call attention to yourself. Stop being so high maintenance. No more tears, no complaining, no drama. People won’t like you if you’re this way. They’ll like you better if you’re this way instead. This leads to people pleasing, a lack of boundaries and no self-care.
We’re taught to feel guilty if we ever put ourselves first.
This isn’t a lesson that easily forgotten or changed, especially with how heavily it’s enforced. There’s currently a video trending on tiktok and instagram, where a woman is cradling her child. Over the video is text that talks about how she can’t relate to women who need time away from their kids because she’s obsessed with hers. When I first saw it, I actually thought to myself, oh man, I really wish I felt that way. I am such a terrible mom because I’m sitting here desperate for a break! It made me hate myself… But then I remembered that I’m not just a mom- I’m a human being.
I love my children. And I love spending time with them, playing and cuddling and talking and learning. But most days, I spend every minute with them from when they wake up until they go to bed and it can be a lot. So it’s okay that I also love myself and being able to decompress. Things like going out with friends, eating a meal while it’s still hot, or even just walking around target without anyone hanging on me or talking to me or needing my attention, are all perfectly acceptable things to need (even though mom guilt might say otherwise).
Needing a break or something that is just mine doesn’t make me a bad mom.
It actually makes me a better one! Because if I have my own needs met- from getting enough sleep and nutrition to social interaction where I am not at least half focused on my kids- then I’m going to be happier, more present and more patient. I’ll get frustrated and overstimulated less easily and my stress levels will be lower. This in turn will not only affect the vibe my kids are picking up from me, but it will also show them by example that it’s okay to put yourself first. That you don’t have to come last just because you think it might be the nice thing to do. By taking care of both my physical and mental health, I’m teaching my children that I know that I matter and that I love myself, which ultimately shows them that they can do the same.
It isn’t enough to shut down the bad.
Yes, it’s definitely important to stop yourself from comparing your life and mom-ability to strangers on the internet. And it’s important to know when to put your phone down rather than listening to someone list off of the things you should be doing as a parent. But something else that we HAVE to start doing is celebrating ourselves for the amazing moms that we are! I know that I am a great mom, but sometimes I get self-conscious about that and I feel like saying it out loud might sound vein. That’s ridiculous! It’s just another part of mom guilt that society has put into our heads- don’t brag. Don’t sound so full of yourself or they aren’t going to like you.
But you know what? I AM a great mom. And if saying that means that there are people who are going to be offended, that’s really not my problem. My kids are healthy and happy and they know that they are loved. They know that they are deserving of respect and that they matter. I’m raising them to be confident and bold and to love themselves. I think that’s a pretty fucking amazing accomplishment and I will not apologize for being proud of it.
I am done with feeling guilty.
From now on, when the mom guilt starts to kick in, I’m planning to shut it down right away. Am I going to be perfect every time? Of course not. I don’t expect to be. I’m going to get things wrong from time to time. But that’s okay- everyone does. When it happens, I’ll fix what I can and set out to do better next time. But I’m not going to feel guilty about taking care of myself. And you shouldn’t either.
You matter too Mamas.
Need a visual reminder? I’ve got a bunch of keychains, stickers and buttons like these in my shop for just this reason!