The Real Mom Guilt Struggle
Did y’all know “mom-guilt” is a thing?
I didn’t until I started blogging. I kept seeing this thing about “mom-guilt.” And call me a hypochondriac, but as soon as I started reading about it, I knew I had it. On so many levels, I suffered from severe mom-guilt.
It probably started when I was pregnant with Zoey. She was wanted and kind of planned, so I was incredibly excited when we found out we were pregnant. It didn’t take long, though, for me to start wondering how this would impact Oliver. Were we having our second too soon? Would he feel replaced? Would he be angry? Obviously he couldn’t even verbalize these thoughts. The kid had no idea of what was about to happen to him. That didn’t stop me from worrying incessantly.
My sister-in-law came and stayed with me for a week after Zoey was born. There was always someone to give some one on one attention to Oliver. Once she left, though, everything got harder and mom-guilt officially kicked in.
It was the first time in Oliver’s short life that he had to hear “no” when he asked me to read to him. I would practically wring my arm of its socket trying to cuddle Oliver and nurse Zoey at the same time. I almost dropped both kids trying to hold them because Oliver was getting a little jealous. It just wasn’t working, so I had to start telling my sweet son “no”. Now on some level, I think it’s good for Oliver to hear “no” and “wait”- I think it’s teaching him that instant gratification can’t always be expected. But it broke my heart, y’all. I felt so much guilt for what I felt like was neglecting Oliver.
And then I found myself getting so frustrated with Zoey. I may have mentioned that she’s an extremely high maintenance baby, and I felt like if she wasn’t so fussy I would have more time for Oliver. So I began to resent her for that a little. And oh.my.gosh y’all. You want to talk about mom-guilt? Try feeling resentment towards your brand new beautiful infant baby daughter. I felt like an extremely terrible person and mom, and when my husband would tell me what a great job I was doing it just made me want to cry. I didn’t feel like a great mom. It felt like I was failing as a mom and as a wife.
And then there was the mom-guilt anytime I left my kids alone with my husband. I had no issue leaving Oliver with Dan, but for some reason I felt so awful anytime I tried to do anything by myself after Zoey. Even my runs got so fast so quick because I felt like I just had to get back. This severely hindered my ability to ask Dan for much needed me-time. I just so guilty anytime I set foot out of the house without a child attached to me.
It was a lot. Mom-guilt for neglecting my oldest, mom-guilt for resenting my youngest, and mom-guilt for stepping away to deal with any of it by myself.
So what do I do with all of that? I lost count of the number of times I’ve told Dan that I just can’t do it anymore. It’s too much. Too hard. For me, this wasn’t self-deprecating mom-guilt, like, “oh, I feel bad going to get coffee with a friend”. It was suffocating and making it impossible for me to have and form healthy relationships with my kids. This guilt was severely affecting my ability to be a decent mother, let alone an attentive wife and person.
I’m just over five months in, and some of this is just starting to ebb away.
The first to go was the mom-guilt about neglecting Oliver. There’s no secret to how I got over it, it just took time to adjust- for me and for him. I just started believing that it was good for him to hear “please wait.” I started telling him, “mommy’s not telling you no, I’m telling you not right now.” I still have moments, but I wouldn’t say I feel guilty anymore. I feel sad, sometimes, when his cute little face brings me a book and he says, “peeeeaasss.” But I’m nursing Zoey and she’s squirming everywhere and I just can’t. It’s helped me to remember to deliver on my promise and read that book to him as soon as I can.
Dealing with my mom-guilt towards Zoey took longer. I think this is because it took me a while to even admit what I was thinking. I felt so terrible at times that it was just easier to deny I felt like that at all. But once it came up, and I named it resentment and I talked to (very few) people about, I felt relief. Then I could deal with it practically. For me, that meant sleep training. I know this can be controversial, and I can probably write a whole post by itself about everything this did for me, but let’s just say that, without exaggeration, I feel like sleep training has saved my relationship with Zoey. I no longer fight her for three hours trying to get her to sleep, which means less frustration with her and more time for Oliver.
And the last mom-guilt feeling- having time by myself. So this was (kind of) solved the good ole fashioned way- with a fist fight. Kidding, no fists, but it was solved with a fight. With Dan. Over poor sleeping Zoey. (Never underestimate the lows to which physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion can bring you.) I was really upset that Dan wasn’t offering me time to go out, and he didn’t want to be blamed for my guilt. In short: get over it, Alex.
I still struggle with this, but I’ve really recognized that it’s healthy and necessary for me to get time away. I love my kiddos, y’all, but sometimes they drive me crazy. There is no way I can be a good mama to them if I’m stressed and tired and always at the brink. It’s important for me to get away and relax so I can come back refreshed and ready to give them 100%.
The truth about mom guilt, y’all? It’s hard, and there is no easy fix. This whole journey has been incredibly humbling. God is definitely using this chapter of my life to sanctify, teach, and humble me, and it’s been an…experience, to say the least. I’ve always been a pretty big rule follower, so guilt isn’t something I’ve really ever struggled with before. And before becoming a mother, I never would have even thought about guilt as a feeling a mom might struggle with. But I it is, and I do, and from what I’ve seen, I’m not alone.
It was so important for me to recognize this and name it in my own life because it was severely starting to inhibit my parenting. It was so hard for me to be selfless for my kiddos when I was consumed by my own selfish feelings of guilt. I still struggle daily. And I know I’ll continue to do so. But time, Jesus, and just getting over it are going a long way for me!
How do you deal with any of your mom-guilt feelings? I’d love some tips!
Another wordy post- if you made it this far, thanks for bearing with me!
Have a phenomenal day!