Mom guilt-the act of feeling guilty about all aspects of motherhood.
Sure you feed your kids everyday, but do you feed them organic, non-gmo, gluten-free foods? Sure you are involved in your child's education, but do you home-school or volunteer at the school like it's a full-time job? Sure you limit screen time for your children, but do you monitor every game, every website, every YouTube video and Instagram post? Sure you provide valentines for your child's class, but do you craft some elaborate Pinterest concoctions to give out during the party?
See what I mean? The world of motherhood is riddled with guilt. We never feel smart enough, pretty enough, thoughtful enough, creative enough, healthy enough. Never enough.
How do we break those chains of never enough?
1. It begins with what we say to ourselves on a daily basis. Are you kind to yourself as a woman? a mom? a wife? a friend? Our internal dialogue is critical to our sense of self. Have you said things like, "Why don't I find the time to make gluten-free meals for my kids?" Every time you speak inadequacies over your life, you are solidifying the guilt that you carry around like chains around your soul. Instead of speaking negatives over your motherhood, practice saying the great things you do for your children.
2. Stop comparing yourself to other moms. I have caught myself saying things like, "I wish I could make crafts like (so and so's) mom" or "I should get up at 4 am to make real breakfast before school instead of serving cereal." Giving into this mindset means I'm never taking time to appreciate the relationship I have cultivated with my kids because I'm always trying to keep up with Mom Jones. My kids love me. They love me with my faults and successes.
3. Take care of yourself. This is so hypocritical of me to say. I am the world's worst at this. I am the last one to get a haircut, new clothes, make-up, shoes, etc. The last one. I struggle with buying myself anything if someone else in my family wants or needs something. This is something that I desperately need to fix in my life. I wore two bras with exposed underwire for 2 months because I didn't want to spend money on myself when our budget was so tight. In the long-run, it made me miserable. That made me cranky. And I was not a very nice mother during that time. See how that works? When we neglect ourselves, we resent it and become the kind of mothers we fear: joyless. Being a joyful mother starts with taking care of yourself. If that means treating yourself to some Starbucks, do it. If that means visiting a hair salon every six weeks, do it. Find your currency and pay yourself well.
4. Don't internalize other people's insecurities. What does this mean? You know THAT mom who always points out your shortcomings in a passive-aggressive way. For example, "I wish I could eat dessert without feeling guilty" or "My kids beg to do school even on our days off. I wish my kids would have a veg-out day." Really? Your kids beg for school? Oh, that's great. I guess that means that every other thing you do is so boring that school is an improvement? Ok, maybe don't respond so snarkily, but you get my point. Why do we let other insecure mothers try to make us feel guilty about how we raise our children? Stop letting those people have space in your head or in your life. You can weed these people out of your life by sharing a great thing that happens to you. Instead of celebrating with you, their response will be a one-up or pointing out the negatives of that great thing. You don't have time for those people. Move. On.
There is a quote that I love: "Whatever is Good for your Soul: Do That." I love this. It embodies every aspect of my life. My relationship with God, my husband, my children and myself. Those relationships are certainly tied to my soul. I resolve to take these steps one at a time in the coming new year. Mom guilt is going to be a thing of my past. I'm 40 now and don't have time to waste on feeling bad about things out of my control or to absorb other moms' insecurities. There is a new leaf turning over. I'm going to take care of my soul.