Published by MacKenzie on March 2nd, 2023
Whew! There's been quite a theme in my therapy sessions with clients this week. And it all stems from one thing.
What a powerful and dreadful feeling of inadequacy and selfishness from two little words.
As moms, we feel it, dare I say, a good deal of the time. It usually starts before the baby is even born with the age old question: "Are you going to breastfeed?"
From there, well, we honestly don't have time to list all of the ways that mom guilt shows up for us. Sadly, it never really goes away or stops showing up. Many women fight with it daily.
Mom guilt is the ultimate teller of lies.
We tell ourselves that we're selfish for wanting time away from our children, that we aren't doing what is best for them. We convince ourselves that reaching out to our support system for help is going to be burdensome to them. We let society and outdated beliefs/gender roles tell us what we should and shouldn't do. (For those of you who know me, you know I hate the word should.) The list goes on and on and....you get the picture.
Mom guilt creates martyrs out of moms. We somehow come up with this idea that we would rather suffer than battle against these lies our brain is telling us. And we wonder why we're anxious, depressed, snapping at our kids or partner, not sleeping well and feeling burned out from everything.
It doesn't have to be this way!
Learning to accept these thoughts are happening and kicking them to the curb is going to make you a better mother, partner, friend...a better everything. Who wouldn't want to feel better about taking time for ourselves, going on a date with our spouse or any other thing we keep ourselves from doing!
Remember, just because you're having these thoughts does not make them true! Thoughts are just that...thoughts.
Here are some ways in which you can tell mom guilt where it can go:
Take the trip!
As the old adage says, "absence makes the heart grow fonder." Having time away from our partner and child(ren) is healthy for everyone. It removed the stress and routine of everyday life. It allows everyone the chance to miss the other person. Yes! This is a good thing! Think of it as a reset.
Here's an example. A few weeks ago my husband and I were really not getting along well and my daughter was working the last cell of my last nerve. It was SO excited to go out of town for a few days for work. I got to sleep in my own bed, not have someone calling my name every two seconds. I got to eat hot food. And I went home a day early because I missed them. My daughter was so happy to see me. Her manners reappeared, her listening ears were working quite well. Now, don't get me wrong, this did not last but a few hours, but I really enjoyed those few hours! (And that's why I'm going away on a Girls Weekend in March too! Ha!)
Rally the troops!
Relying on your support system is so important as a parent. Not only for validation and advice, but for those times when you're about to lose your ever-loving mind. Think of it this way: if one of your girlfriends was struggling with something and she called you to ask for help, would you do it? Of course! Without hesitation! Then the same goes for when you need help, Mama. Those same people you're there for are going to be there for you in return. Use them! And learn to be okay with it! Remember that your partner is also part of your support system.
Find Yourself Again
Take a look in the mirror. Remember her? What does she like to do outside of being a Mom? You don't remember, do you. I know, it's hard for us to not get fully immersed in being a parent and a partner. We lose ourselves in those roles and it's so exhausting to try to find that person again. But not having something of your own that you enjoy isn't doing you or your family any favors. Get back into a hobby. Embarrassingly enough, I didn't read a real book for years after my daughter was born. Like years. Recently I started reading books that I want to read again and it's amazing. I forgot how much I love reading.
Your partner has activities that they do, right? And where are you when they're at the gym or out mowing the lawn, or hunting for the weekend? Yep, you're right at home with the kid(s). Why is your partner the only one who gets to have fun away from the responsibilities of being a parent?
Remember Your Self-Worth
Knowing that you are worthy of time for yourself or with your partner is a huge step in the right direction. This can cause a great deal of anxiety for some, so please talk to a therapist about ways to manage the anxiety symptoms. Once you get more comfortable with dealing with the anxiety part of this, it will get easier. And believe me, after your first Girls Weekend you won't look back.