How to Cope With Mom Guilt

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I feel like I’m failing at least once a day

I honestly can’t remember another time in my life where I’ve felt this way. I give so much to my kids and my home, but so often, even though I’m exhausted, hungry and pretty sleep deprived by the end of the day, I’m also plagued with this nagging feeling that I’m not doing enough. Why do us moms beat ourselves up so much?

Recently I’ve found myself reaching a breaking point. Although people around me commended me on doing a great job, I have a problem hearing it. I have piles of unsorted laundry waiting to be folded and put away, my kid’s hair hasn’t been combed, I didn’t plan out her meals so I’ve given her a banana and a stick of cheese for lunch (she’s very picky), and because I’m worn out and baby Joy cries if she’s put down for even a minute, I’ve been lagging in my potty training efforts with Grace (who just turned two last week); and that pile of dishes from last night’s dinner that I vowed to clean first thing in the morning – it’s still in the sink and it’s way past lunch…

Last week I went to IKEA and watched in amazement as a little girl sat quietly with her mom eating at the restaurant. She was eating the regular food – not some “kid friendly food”, she had a little silicone plate with place mat attachment and a cup with a straw. Her mom would cut up the food from the IKEA plate, place it on the kiddie plate, and she’d eat it. Not play with it, not refuse, not toss it on the ground, but eat it! NEATLY!!!! And she was drinking from a flip top cup, not a bottle. This kid was definitely younger than Grace…

Ugh! Where did I go wrong? I went over to the mom and she confirmed, her kid’s 14 months. Apparently they’ve eaten all meals at the table together (no distractions) since day one, and the kid has been given whatever her parents were eating since day one. I tried that early on, but then I gave in and resorted to Easy Mac. Watching this little girl, I broke the cardinal rule of motherhood – NEVER COMPARE YOUR KID’S DEVELOPMENT TO OTHERS. Everyone develops at their own pace. I know this, but I couldn’t help myself; Grace is behind, and I couldn’t help but think it was my doing. Grace also sleeps in a crib, and I’m 100% certain that at 2 years old she’s already behind in having her crib converted to a toddler bed.

Then I came across a segment on the Today Show with therapist Marisa Peer; she was talking about her latest book and the three words that can immediately make you feel empowered and better about yourself, and also make you become more successful: I AM ENOUGH.

That’s it. She recommends writing those three words on your bathroom mirror with lipstick and looking at it each morning. Well, I don’t wear lipstick, but I liked the idea so I wrote the words out on a piece of paper, cut it out with my nifty craft scissors, and taped it to my bathroom mirror. Then I committed to reading it every time I was in my bathroom.

An interesting thing started happening, I found myself stopping myself whenever the (very frequent) negative self-talk started creeping in. I’d shake my head and say, (sometimes out loud like a crazy person) “I am enough”. I’d sometimes add on “I’m a great mom” to pack an extra punch. And, I started believing it.  My kids are happy and healthy. They are thriving. We sing and dance and laugh. My kids feel safe, and I’m 100% certain that they feel loved and celebrated.

Yes, we need to work on better eating habits and I need to shred some junk mail, get rid of old clothes and toys, fold the laundry and vacuum the crumbs in my car – but even on the worst of days, I am still doing a great job in the areas that matter most. I also found that by saying this mantra in my head throughout the day, my behaviors also started shifting. Slowly, but surely, I started feeling a little more energized and focused, and I started getting more things accomplished. I vacuumed the main floor areas, washed dishes, did a load of laundry and cleaned the bathroom all before lunch on Thursday – WHAT?!?!?!

Sometimes (and by sometimes I mean all the time) we just need to be a little kinder to ourselves, embrace the wins and tap into that inner confidence. Not only did it make me feel better, I did better too!

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