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5 Things Moms Should No Longer Feel Guilty About

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Hello there, Moms.

I see you out there, doing your thing and being all confident and owning motherhood like a boss. Not a lady boss, but a straight up b-o-double-s BOSS. Then, it comes along and steals your joy. It creeps up on you, slaps you on the face, and leaves you wretched with remorse, shame, and despair. That’s right. I am talking about “Mom Guilt.” There is already a laundry list of things for you to feel guilty about. I am not here to tack on a few more. I am here, instead, to remove some.

These are five feelings that you should absolutely not let “Mom Guilt” rule over anymore.

1. Feeling bad that it’s not that bad.

When I got pregnant, the “Just Wait” people came out in full force. They would catch me doing something as simple as reading or as big as attending an out of town wedding.

“Just wait until you have the baby, you won’t be able to read like you do now.”

“Ha, you go to all these weddings now. Well, just wait until you have a baby. You won’t be able to anymore.”

“You better sleep now because just wait until you have the baby. You’ll never sleep again.”

Then, I would swear they would sprout devil horns and laugh manically as I trembled in fear and utter anxiety, getting joy out of the fact that the spawn inside of me would rip away all life’s pleasures.

Then, the baby came, and it wasn’t that bad. At all. Sure, my life changed and sacrifices had to be made. There were tears and times I would scream out of frustration alone in the car. There were sobbing calls to my mom and a late evening trip to her house because my milk wouldn’t let down and my son wouldn’t stop crying. It was hard, but again it wasn’t that bad.

I still was able to read books. I attended three weddings in the first year post baby. Thanks to a lot of reading and research by experts, we all got more sleep than not. I was happy. The “Just Wait” people weren’t satisfied. They told me to “just wait until you go back to work,” or “just wait until you start solids,” or “just wait until he’s mobile.” All of it came and went, and again it wasn’t that bad. I started to get racked with guilt, thinking maybe I was doing it all wrong. I have seen the TV shows and movies where the mom is a total wreck. She hasn’t showered in days, she has huge bags under her eyes, and she seems totally miserable.

Maybe I shouldn’t be reading as much and using that time to give my child learning opportunities. Are we all sleeping too much? Is sleep deprivation just the natural part of parenthood that I am naïve not to accept? Is it selfish of me to go off to a wedding while someone else watches my child? These guilty thoughts camped out in my brain until enough was enough, and I decided I was done with them. Whether it isn’t that bad or it is actually that bad for you, Mom, you do not have to feel guilty about your feelings.

2. Missing your old life.

Ladies, it’s OK to wistfully reminisce about your old life when you could lie around watching TV, or devouring books all day one weekend and then the next going out to some bar until the crack of dawn. Missing that freedom does not mean you love your children any less. It doesn’t make you a bad mom. It makes you normal. I miss the carefree days of being a child and running around outside with the neighbors when social media wasn’t a distraction and I had no real responsibility. That said, I wouldn’t want to go back. I miss the days when my friends would walk the hallways of high school, go to football games on Friday, and hang out on each other’s porches on lazy summer days. But, nope, don’t take me back. I miss the days of cross country and track practices and spending hours in the cafeteria and then the nights walking arm and arm with my friends to the main street during those college years. However, I wouldn’t trade anything to go back. Finally, I miss the days on the couch with just my husband and me and spontaneously deciding to take a trip. That’s over though. My life with my child is so much better, but sometimes I miss what was. And that’s OK.

3. Neglecting an area of your life.

Just because you are now a mom it doesn’t mean the other parts of you disappear. There is still the Working You. Friend You. Spouse You. Domestic You. Hobbies and Exercise You. It’s all still there, but sometimes one of those areas gets neglected for a certain period of time.

Maybe you don’t spend as much time talking on the phone and texting back your friends as you used to. Don’t sweat it. On the other hand, maybe your house is a mess and take out slowly becomes the norm. Don’t worry about it. Maybe you and your spouse skip date night for the second month in a row. Give yourself a break. For me, I find that I don’t spend as much time on my teaching career as I used to. I often leave school the minute we can. My weekends rarely consist of lesson planning anymore. Where my students once occupied my thoughts in the evening hours, my son has replaced them.

I felt guilty that a lot of my focus shifted away from my career, and my friends would get texts back from me a whole day later, but I soon began to realize that this is just a season of my life. My other selves will get nourished again one day, and for now I am content on growing my Mom Self.

4. Not picking up your child right away.

I think we can all admit that we have done this one. Work ends or a doctor’s appointment finishes up, and instead of driving right away to fetch your child from daycare or to head home, you give yourself a few minutes (OK, more like an hour) to just do something you want to do. Linger in Target. Sit in your car and scroll through social media. Take a nap. Read a book. Squeeze in a run. Because of this, you are not a bad mom. I repeat. You are not a bad mom!

5. Letting little things bother you sometimes.

In the mad house that is motherhood, little things start to bother you sometimes (key word being sometimes, not always). You know it’s completely insane, but you can’t quite let it go. I’m here to give you permission to carry on, Mama!

It’s 10 minutes past my child’s bedtime, and we (see I) are cleaning up his toys. I can’t find Tiger in his set of five animal finger puppets. Rational me would let it go. But, in this moment, I can’t. It is my life’s mission to find Tiger, so he can be reunited with Monkey, Elephant, Giraffe, and Zebra. I scour the living room. My son grows increasingly frustrated. I know I should let it go, but…I need to find Tiger, so he can sleep with his other pals. If I don’t rescue him now, we might forget about him, and he’ll be lost forever. I’m looking under couches, throwing pillows, tearing apart drawers until I snap back to reality (oh there goes gravity) and come crashing back to earth. I abandon my search, shake my head, grab my son to head upstairs, and question my sanity.

I should feel guilty about my momentarily lapse of judgment, but I don’t. Motherhood demands a lot, and if sometimes we act a little silly, so be it.

What are some things you don’t feel guilty about anymore? Tell us in the comments.

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Photo credit: Rawpixel/Getty Images

Originally published: May 11, 2020
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