Once you know you have Mom guilt, a lot of searching happens. Is this normal? Why don’t I feel satisfied? Will I always feel this pressure? Does any good come out of feeling this way?
I may not have all of the answers, but yes it’s normal. And no I don’t think Mom guilt leads to any satisfaction. Mom guilt is negative self-talk. It’s a bundle of lies that tell you that you aren’t good enough for your family. You don’t have to always feel this way either. With some practiced self-love, you can settle into a happier lifestyle, where you don’t need to achieve perfection.
Self-love is realizing that you’ve neglected yourself for a while and that you need to put yourself back together. Self-love is not something you buy. It’s prioritizing yourself more than you normally would to fix the broken pieces of you. Self-love (or self-care, whatever you call it), runs deeper than the most calming bubble bath.
As a Mom it never feels like there’s enough time in the day. There’s always more to do and we’re always at the bottom of our own lists. Once, (when our three boys were toddlers) I used to say “I never have enough time to even have my thoughts to myself.” I was so used to being needed after sitting for .2 seconds on the couch. Even if baby slept during nap, there was always one kid who was never tired. I have a feeling that if there were more hours in the day, I would probably try to get more done around the house and be even more exhausted. It wouldn’t bump me up the list any quicker. Honestly what would you do with more hours?
The hardest thing as a Mom for me, especially, is to practice sitting still and being with my thoughts. It looks lazy. It feels lazy. It might be borderline lazy…. but for a good cause. We live in a world where you aren’t considered important if you aren’t constantly busy. Having several jobs is like a badge of honor. But sitting on your couch, sipping hot coffee (that hasn’t been reheated), breathing slowly, watching the sunrise, and thanking God for the beautiful morning can be the reset you need.
As parents we’re pretty much permanently exhausted. We do so much, yet feel like it’s never enough. An ordinary, busy day doesn’t feel productive enough. The days when we decide not raise a hand for every school event or fundraiser, the days when we couldn’t make it to our kid’s practice or game, or when we told our kids no… makes us feel like we are somehow failing. However, when you’re constantly giving of yourself, but not taking care of your deepest needs, you start to feel even more drained mentally and emotionally.
What if just for one day, we could make the time for the things we need most?
That bubble bath I was talking about earlier might not cure your Mom problems. However if your deepest need is space and partnership, then handing the baton to your spouse to control the chaos while you soak in the tub might be helpful.
Sleeping in once a week or taking naps (when feasible) might not fix your Mom problems, but it might help you be less irritable. If you’re up with little kids through the night or don’t sleep well, you could be headed in a downward spiral messing with your mood and mental state. If you have support, don’t be afraid to ask for help with the kids for this one. Sleep deprivation is real!
Shopping solo might not fix your Mom problems, but going on a drive might give you that sense of space and freedom you need most. Even just going for a peaceful walk or run might help, too.
Visiting your Mom or having a chat on the phone with your Mom friends might not fix your Mom problems. However, if your deepest need is to feel more adequate or understood, that conversation might make your day more bearable. Sometimes being real about motherhood with someone else helps you feel not so alone.
Sitting on the couch in silence might not fix your Mom problems, but maybe you just need a moment to process the day in prayer. Knowing that there is a higher power and that you’re part of a plan helps you see the big picture.
And lastly, having goals and wants of your own might not fix your Mom problems, but it can sure give you back your identity. Having time to do things that make you unique might put the spark back in your life.
Motherhood can easily lead you down the path of depression and anxiety. If you’re lucky to surpass even a brief stage of either, no one talks about all of the pressure.
Since motherhood isn’t one-size-fits-all, I can’t tell you exactly what you need. If your life is even a little chaotic, I encourage you to take a step back, talk with your closest people and do some soul searching.
The hardest part of self-care is making time for yourself when there are a hundred other things that need done. You’ll have to bump yourself up on your agenda. You’ll probably still never finish the laundry, but that’s okay because you’re important too!
Reversing Mom guilt requires you to recognize your own needs and to access your support system. It all starts with positive affirmations and learning how to love yourself again.