Mom Guilt is a Happiness Hindrance

Mom Guilt is a Happiness Hindrance

Over the weekend I initiated a discussion with my husband concerning the future of my blog. The ultimate question was whether to keep it or stop blogging altogether (I’ve only been at it for a month). My husband was caught off guard since I’m constantly blabbing about how much I’ve enjoyed developing the blog. Despite my enjoyment I’ve battled an incessant internal nagging to drop it. The time commitment although not cumbersome (because I truly enjoy it) has become a gigantic guilt-magnet. Since the birth of my son I’ve battled a pathological case of mom guilt. I am talking absurdities like pangs of guilt over putting him in a bassinet so I can shower. Family members have practically staged interventions over my reluctance to leave the house without him.  If diminutive periods of time devoted to my daily upkeep trigger guilt, than I’m facing a tsunami when contemplating a daily time commitment for the blog.

It would feel liberating to shed my layer of perfectionism and become a once-a-month blogger, unfortunately a personality overhaul is outside the realm of possibility. For me “dabbling” in blogging evolved into more of a project; enlisting help from social media to promote it and committing to providing quality, timely material. In addition, improving and enhancing the space has ultimately developed into an obsession of its own. If I was a single twenty-year-old contemplating ways to pass my excessive amounts of free time this would hardly qualify as problematic. Conversely, I’m a stay-at-home mom/housewife who can barely find the time to ingest breakfast let alone explore the digital word of self-publishing and networking. I’ve previously managed to maintain the blog by eliciting help from my wonderfully supportive husband and self-entertaining five-month-old. My son bounces around in his activity center for twenty minutes while I finish up a post or my husband cleans the bathroom over the weekend after I spent Nate’s naptime typing instead of cleaning. This has been a seamless process except for one minor detail threatening to implode the entire system, monstrous levels of guilt.

My case of mom guilt (although partly innate) results from society’s depthless portrayal of women as selfless family devotees, a concept which has slowly leached its way into my system. The idea that all women feel validated and fulfilled by the relentless nurturing of others is objectionable. I love being a stay-at-home mom, I find it’s the most difficult and fulfilling job on my resume but it also leaves me with a desire for an adult hobby. I’m a multidimensional human being who doesn’t consider cooking for my family to be therapeutic. If your passion truly is DIY projects for the home then you’re one of those incredibly lucky people whose hobby supports their vocation. I require a creative outlet other than one involving the design of a playroom. This opposes society’s view that women should thrive on 24/7 nurturing and start focusing on themselves once their children start filling out college applications.

I nonchalantly read the chatter of an online group filled with mothers of young children. This weekend’s topic of discussion centered on character bashing Marissa Mayer, a female CEO, who plans on returning to work two weeks after the birth of her twins. If a male CEO took two weeks off people would be shocked by his devotion to family. I’m not advocating for fourteen day maternity leave but women should be able to chose how much time they take off without the repercussion of others judging their worth as a mother. Some highlights of the discussion included her skewed priorities and complete lack of a desire to bond with her children. Seriously?! No wonder I practically feel nauseated by guilt when I choose to focus on my own passion for a minuscule portion of the day. The happiness of women is hanging in the balance. Ironically, society demeans the stay-at-home mom while simultaneously calling career women not nurturing or egocentric. In order to thrive as mothers we need to be happy and well adjusted. For some women outside employment affords contentment while others relish in the role of stay-at-home mom. The commonality between all first-rate moms is not whether they spend time at an office or not, it’s self-fulfillment and happiness. A child can sense resentment and martyrdom both of which hinder their healthy development.

I credit this unoriginal group of mom bashing women for subsequently determining the fate of my blog. I will keep the blog. It’s not the time commitment required that’s unhealthy, it’s the amount of guilt it triggers. Women shouldn’t feel like bad moms for choosing outside employment, going on a trip sans children, or nurturing a regular hobby that involves spending time solo. Keeping the blog will facilitate an imperative exercise in tackling my mom guilt. I’ve heard statements encouraging women to embrace mom guilt as a positive experience highlighting how much we care about our children. My husband doesn’t feel intense guilt over his work-life balance, does that mean he doesn’t care? I contend it’s maladaptive and focused on “perfect”, overly altruistic mothering. Let’s give ourselves daily permission to put our needs first in pursuit of our own happiness. Additionally, let’s embrace the idea that great mothers come in all packages: career driven, stay-at-home, hiring a nanny, having a blog instead of a spotless home, or whatever deviation describes us. 


9 thoughts on “Mom Guilt is a Happiness Hindrance

  1. As a first-time mom of an almost 18 month old, I’ve had to learn to let go of the guilt. It’s hard, but it’s necessary. From people telling you that your parenting method is only 2nd best, to going back to work and putting my daughter in daycare, trust me, guilt faces me everyday. But I can choose to let it overwhelm me or accept that I am only human and my kiddo is going to be OKAY if she cries for a few minutes. It’s okay to let your hubby watch the baby while you go out for a movie with friends. It’s okay to use a pacifier, feed the baby store-bought baby food, wear disposable diapers or *gasp* give him or her Tylenol for teething instead of the latest essential oil craze treatment.

    Lesson learned: do what’s best for you and don’t let anyone or anything guilt you into thinking you are doing something wrong. Guilt is not a positive thing — it makes us think we are bad, we’ve committed some Mommy Sin when in reality, we are only one person and can’t do it all.

    Love this post, and love how you are working through letting go of the guilt. There will be days where it will be harder than others, but you will make it. And sometimes, it’s healthy to ignore Pinterest… where do some of these women find the time to make EVERYTHING homemade?? 😉

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    1. Thank you!!! I’m so glad you’ve learned to let go of the guilt–I am on that path as well. It’s so difficult when there is so much scrutiny and competition even among other mothers! I could write an entire post on “mom bashing” over the different choices we all make as parents (and probably will). Glad to have a fellow pacifier toting mom!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My daughter used a pacifier several days after birth until about 6 months. She just decided one day and on her own she didn’t want to use them anymore. And that’s okay too. Do what’s best for you and your kid(s), parenting is hard enough so why be in competition with others on top of that? lol Just say no to mom bashing, ha ha! New bumper sticker slogan?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I hear ya!! I have three children and am building a business from home. I couldnt stay in the work place after I had the kids, the urge to stay at home was too strong so I didnt really feel I had a choice!! I also need a creative outlet, and have dabbled with blogging amongst other projects. I have guilt too, in trying to create the balance between being present with the kids, building a future for them, and creating a satisfying business that feeds my soul!! Im comitted to discovering the balance by keeping moving in the right direction and figuriing it out along the way …. your not alone!!

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  3. So much yes to this post. So much yes. I always have to wonder about the mothers who constantly bash others for not being nurturing and altruistic enough—are they trying to overcompensate for their own guilt or dissatisfaction?

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    1. There’s been a longstanding assumption that bullying stems from the offenders own self-esteem deficit which is basically what you’re saying about a dissatisfied mom bashing other mothers to mask her own issues, I totally think that’s the case!

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      1. Yeah, I don’t know how true it is as a psychological theory—maybe some people are just jerks!—but it does seem like some mothers tie their identity to the way they parent so much that they have to insist that it’s the best and only way.

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      2. True, there’s never a “one size fits all” explanation in psychology. I do agree about mothers tying their identity to the way they parent and becoming steadfast in their opinion. It would be nice if people accepted there’s unlimited ways to be a loving, effective parent.

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