If comparison is the thief of joy, then mom-guilt is the thief of joyful moments.
If you do not know what mom guilt is- consider yourself one of the lucky ones not plagued by this parenting epidemic. Mom guilt is that nagging voice in the back of your head saying:
You’re not good enough.
You didn’t feed your kids enough vegetables today.
Their hair/outfit is atrocious.
Someone needs to set the house on fire cuz there’s no cleaning this dump!
You don’t play with your kids enough….
Mom guilt criticizes everything about your parenting or lack thereof- skills and you know what? I’ve had enough of that voice! Listening to that mom guilting voice is a waste of time! But how do stop the vicious listening cycle? How do you stop that inner voice constantly criticizing life? You learn to silence that mom guilt by finding a happy balance, using perspective and a little justification.
Plagued by mom guilt for–years– I find myself downright depressed when this cynically voice grows loud. Why didn’t I make breakfast today instead of cold cereal again? How many movies did the kids watch this morning? The truth? We got Trolls on DVD on Valentine’s Day and they have watched that movie at least once a day…they love it that much. However, the kids are mesmerized by the fun characters, the message of Trolls finding happiness, the music is great and the kids dance most of the show. They are getting exercise without even knowing it. It’s a win!
Is my house a disaster? No, not all the time. Okay, my little man has a thousand little plastic balls that belong in a ball pit… I never see them in the ball pit when he’s awake because they litter the floor all- day- long. But he’s happy throwing these balls then chasing after them. He is self-entertaining and that is a fantastic trait for a toddler. Oh but the mess! I hear that mom guilt creep inside and criticize me for the lack of clean home: What if a neighbor dropped by?
I wish I was Mary Poppins. Wouldn’t it be glorious to carry around this magical weightless bag that holds anything and everything my children could ever need in it? Wouldn’t it be nice to snap my fingers and have the play room immediately cleaned up without lifting a finger of my own? Imagine the time saved!
Sigh… one day I’ll miss the messy house with kid toys, balls, backpacks and coats everywhere right? At least that’s what I keep telling myself. Tell me I’m not the only one that finds cleaning up after a family of slobs annoying- please? And then that mom guilt voice comes creeping in again: Annoyed by the little people that will one day grow up and move out of your house– forever? How dare you not enjoy these moments?!
Good gravy! I cannot win! Until the toys make it to the toy chest on their own accord, I choose to have perspective. I’ll leave the house a (manageable) mess during the day while the children actually live and play in it. Before bed, the kids will collect everything that belongs to them and put it away. Then I can put the house back in order to wake up the next morning and start this groundhogs festivities all over again…goodie.
Mom guilt needs to be kept in check by constantly finding a balance, searching for perspective and adding a side of justification. That cynical mom guilt creeping inside the head isn’t necessarily a bad voice. Mom guilt can remind or direct us on an area that needs improvement in our life which can be good. Becoming aware that the furry hair behind the toilet bowl is not a jeweled troll’s hair is a good criticism.
Allowing mom guilt to send us down a path of self-doubt and misery to do laundry instead of playing with our child is stealing away a joyful moment. Mom guilt is a waste of time. Letting mom guilt win over spending quality time with a loved one– is not going to happen anymore. I want to say yes to my children’s silly requests more than saying no. When my children ask if I will play with them I want my initial reaction to be- “yes, the laundry can wait.”
I say this over and over again, but raising little ones is a fleeting time. Childhood is over incredibly quick. Babyhood is eight to nine months depending on when your baby starts walking. Toddlerhood- two to three years. At four- those little people go off to half day school. Eventually these little people are burdened with loads of homework, extracurricular activities and then…it’s bedtime. And the days keep turning to week and then years. Where has the time gone? Just typing this makes me want pull my sleeping one-year-old out of his crib to snuggle and smell his sweet skin.
As parents, are we seizing the daily moments by playing with our kids? Or are we letting that time pass us by?
To clarify- this post is in no way trying to mom guilt others into doing more for their children. As mothers we guilt ourselves enough without needing to read a long post about it too. This post is helping me digest my most recent mom guilt ride that took me over the edge of sanity… choosing to send my child to school.
I promised with my first, that I would never send any of my kids to preschool. If you love someone, how could you send them away? With my daughter I home schooled her for preschool and eventually sent her to kindergarten. Oh Betty did I bawl hysterically when she left that first day. After a week of kindergarten agony, I called a friend who reminded me not to feel guilty. My daughter got to socialize at school (because a social butterfly needs more social interactions- right?) and now my second child got one-on-one attention with me. Now, I could get “Morgan time” before child #3 showed up while child #1 was away and child #2 napped.
Balance, perspective and a little justification is how you handle mom guilt.
Seize the daily moments with your children, but take care of mama too. Put down the phone when the kids are awake. Put the to do list back on the fridge and wait until naptime or bedtime to deep clean. Let your children be little, make memories by playing with them today. Put your agenda to the side, do the minim to survive for the day and build Lego towers or have tea parties on the floor more. I know it’s hard to stop the busyness of life, but slow down and absorb today. Express your love to your little ones and smell their sweet and sometimes stinky kiddie smells a little more.
Seize these precious and fleeting moments and most importantly– tell that cynical mom guilting voice to take a hike!
Hoping to seize today and play,