I recently read a stat that nearly 90 percent of mothers experience ‘mom guilt’ at some point and 21 percent of them feel guilty most or all the time. I’m somewhere on that spectrum—although I’ve become a lot less hard on myself over time.
It’s really been the little things that have allowed my perfectionist self some latitude to be, well, flawed—and okay about that. For example: Mommy Memes. I find them strangely comforting, with parental pick-me-up quotes like:
The authors of those totally get it. It’s reassuring to know that other moms—so many moms—feel the exact same way as me: We strive for greatness in our motherhood role because we think that’s what our children need to become great. And, if they don’t turn out so great, then we assume it’s all our fault.
So, over the years, while battling societal expectations and unsolicited mommy advice, it’s no wonder we become addicted to negative self-talk like:
I’m not spending enough time with my kids…
I should be giving them more attention…
I’m too hard on them…
I’m too soft on them…
I shouldn’t have said that…
I didn’t give them a big birthday party like Sally Sue down the street…
And on and on and on…
No wonder a lot of us have trouble falling asleep as we rehearse in our minds all the things we did or didn’t do that day. We worry about it. We hide it. And, we think it’s weakness if we talk about it.
So, let’s talk about it. Let’s chew on it and then spit out some support and encouragement for each other, while holding hands with our MAMA tribe.
As an almost-empty-nester mom of two really great boys, I learned along the way how to talk to myself in the positive, supportive way I would to other moms.
It’s why my top tip for turning ‘mom-guilt’ into a ‘mom-pick-me-up’ is:
Build yourself up the same way you’d build up other moms.
If your mom friend confessed she lost her cool with her toddler and yelled, you wouldn’t respond with you-must-be-a-bad-mom rhetoric. You’d remind her that her daughter knows she’s loved. You might even hug her and whisper not to stew.
If she feels bad that she can’t play with her preschooler a lot, you’d inform her it’s giving him opportunities for him to learn self-play and independence.
“Don’t wallow in what you think you’re not doing right”
If she told you how bad she felt because she had to work all day, every day, and can’t attend all the sports activities for her children, you’d remind her that she’s only able to afford those activities because she works.
Why not encourage yourself the way you do with others? When you’re feeling low or guilty, be your best friend and give yourself a hug. Step outside yourself for a minute and say the positive words you’d offer your friends.
You’re your child’s hero, after all.
Stop self-judging. Don’t wallow in what you think you’re not doing right. Spoil yourself with epic compliments. Extend grace often.
I promise, we all make mistakes… and we become better moms because of them.