10 Wonderful Things Mommy Guilt Says About You

If you are like most women I know you are a smart, caring, kind, sensitive, loving person.  As a mother and wife you work hard at providing for the needs of your whole family.  You try to maintain a safe, clean and organized home.  You make sure your kids eat healthy,  get enough exercise, and do their homework.  You do your darndest to shape them into happy, well-behaved, well-adjusted individuals. Maybe you have a job as well to help provide for financial needs at home on top of all your other responsibilities.  Even though you probably do all of this while putting your own needs last, and perhaps even getting little, if any, appreciation for your efforts, if you just happen to lose your temper or decide not to cook or make the bed, you feel guilty and horribly inadequate.  After all, Suzie Q. seems to have it all together, doesn’t she?  Her kids are perfect angels who participate in every extracurricular activity imaginable (gotta nourish those young brains with lots of stimulating experiences), she volunteers at school, she never loses her temper, she’s a gourmet cook, and her house is always immaculate! So why can’t you be more like her?

So there's guilt about working, not working, guilt about yelling, and then about not being firm enough with discipline, about not playing with your kids enough, or not having the time to sit down and do crafts with them, or letting them have too much screen time.  You might even feel guilty about wanting to spend time away from your kids (God forbid)!  And with all of this guilt going around chances are that, at least in those moments, you're not feeling very good about yourself.  

What if I showed you a magic button that you could push to get rid of all of your mommy guilt instantly with no effort on your part? Would you push it?   As tempting as this idea sounds,  I would not recommend pushing the button.  Here's why.  Guilt, like every human emotion, has its place and its value. It has a message to convey.  Moreover, mommy guilt says wonderful things about your core values as a person.  Here is a list of 10 things that mommy guilt says about you:

  1. You take your responsibility as a mother seriously. It’s an important job! Your children depend on you for their every need, and they look up to you for much of their life, so motherhood is a big deal and you are clearly taking that seriously or you wouldn’t worry so much.
     
  2. You have a strong ethic and want to feel competent.  Since you chose to be a mom you want to do the best job of it that you can (and at least as well as other moms). We’ve been hearing for years that "if you’re going to do something, do it right; do your best."  I think this applies to motherhood as well. Plus, it feels good to get validation that we are doing a good job.  We want to feel competent.
     
  3. You have high standards of what a “good mom” should be and you’re not letting yourself off the hook. You can recognize that motherhood is not just about giving birth. There’s a whole lot that goes into it. You probably have certain role models and ideas of what good mothering entails, and you are holding yourself to those standards.
     
  4. You recognize the importance of your role in shaping your little ones’ lives.  As said earlier, these are young, susceptible minds and you get to mold and shape them. Your influence will reverberate throughout your child’s entire life! So the choices you make affect their choices and path later on.
     
  5. You want to offer your kids the best of you. They deserve it. Of course, when you love someone you want to give them your all. Nowhere is this truer than with our own children!
     
  6. You want to give your kids a childhood that is as happy as, if not happier, than your own childhood.  If you grew up in a loving family with fun and happy memories, you naturally would want to give the same kind of experience to your child.  And if you grew up in an abusive, neglectful, chaotic, or otherwise unhappy home you probably are taking steps to make sure your kids have a completely opposite experience.
     
  7. You are a loving, caring individual with a conscience. None of this would be relevant if you were a selfish, uncaring, or self-absorbed person. You feel guilty because you care.
     
  8. You recognize that you have flaws and shortcomings and don’t want your child to pay for those flaws.  It should come as not surprise that no human and thus no mother is perfect.  Ask yourself whether your own mother is perfect.  But do you love her? Do you admire and respect her? This goes to show that one does not need to be perfect to be a good mom. Your children do not expect or want you to be perfect; they only want you to love them. 
     
  9. Your child deserves at least as good a childhood as every other child. We don’t want our children to want for anything, and we never want them to feel less than someone else. 
     
  10. You want your child to be a happy, well-adjusted person and you’re trying to equip her for life. You try to provide enriching, educational, and challenging activities and experiences for your children, teach them values such as honesty and hard-work and politeness, and fairness and communication, all because you want to make sure they grow up to be upstanding members of society, and most of all that they be confident, successful, and happy people.

So the next time you're beating yourself up over what you are doing or not doing as a mom, remember that your mommy guilt is there for a reason. Accept that the guilt will pop up from time to time, and it's saying some great things about you.  At the same time, it is important to keep guilt in balance so that it does not control you.  If you'd like to learn how to do this, check out my next post where I will discuss specific suggestions to help you keep mommy guilt in check.