I’m Doing My Best
I can feel it creep in every single day. It comes in kicking and screaming, punching me in the gut until I can’t breathe. It’s relentless and comes on without warning. I can’t ignore it.
“Mom Guilt is the feeling of guilt, doubt, anxiousness or uncertainty experienced by mothers when they worry they're failing or falling short of expectations in some way.”
It sounds ridiculous every time I talk about it. After all, I’m letting these feelings creep into my subconscious. I’m letting the feelings take over until I feel completely inadequate, but they are there all the same.
I am a perfectionist. I always have been. I want to do everything and I want to do it all perfectly. But in motherhood, there is no such thing. Perfect is not a concept that exists in this world and most days I pretend to be okay with that. But the truth is, on the inside, I am constantly struggling.
There are so many things I’ve felt guilty about as a mom:
NOT LIKING THE NEWBORN MONTHS. I am not a newborn mom, or truthfully even an early toddler mom. I really start to enjoy my kids when they can walk, talk, and be somewhat independent. I just want to take a shower without having to poke my head out every two minutes to quell the screaming child. (I can see my mom nodding her head now thinking how this is paybacks for when I was a kid.) Aside from the very early weeks when babies are cute, snuggly, and sleep most of the day, I just want to race to two year olds. I want to engage with them and have them engage back. I want to hear the thoughts in their heads and the beginning of jokes. Thankfully for me, I don’t have to go back to the newborn days anymore, but I am still trudging through the early toddler stage counting down the days until we hit two years old.
PUTTING THEM IN FRONT OF THE TV WHEN I JUST NEED A MINUTE. I know, I know. Screen time is bad and I’m probably killing their brain cells every time. But, you know, sometimes moms just need a minute to breathe without the constant neediness of a child on them. And if Daniel Tiger can give me a piece of sanity back in the middle of a long day, I’m going to take it.
NEEDING SPACE FROM MY CHILDREN. I am an introvert. And introverts + being a mom doesn’t always mix. There have been many times in my five years of being a mom that I volunteer to go pick up dinner, or run to the grocery store just to have a minute to myself. I need the quiet time. And I need to not be needed for a minute.
YELLING. Every single morning without fail, I’m determined to make it a better day. But then, inevitably, by 9:00 am I have already yelled more than I’d like to admit. I’ve yelled at the baby for his impatience. I’ve yelled at Henry for messing with Harrison and making his yelling worse. I’ve yelled at the cat for throwing up on the rug. I’ve yelled at everyone for no reason other than that I’m frustrated and I feel like I can’t breathe.
It’s been a year now since I’ve been a full-time work at home mom and I’ve often questioned if I’m cut out for this. Am I a good enough mom to be home with them? Would they be better off in daycare full-time? Am I doing them a disservice?
I had such high hopes for being home with them. I had never looked forward to something as much as I did to this. And yet there are so many days that I go to bed feeling defeated and like I don’t know what I’m doing.
I would love to wrap up this essay with a tidy bow and tell you that I’m working on the mom guilt. That I don’t let it phase me anymore. That I’m just going to go about my life and be the best mom I can and on and on and on with the lies. But the truth is, I will likely struggle with this every single day until my kids are out of the house (and maybe even then?). Every misstep that they make I’ll wonder if it’s my fault. Was I not attentive enough, not present enough?
I guess when it comes down to it, mom guilt does prove one thing - it proves that I give a damn. That I am so concerned with being a good mom because I truly love these tiny people with all of my heart. And it proves that I am trying my very best. At the end of the day, isn’t that all we can ask? We wake up, we do our best, we love our children, and we try not to screw them up too badly. Rinse and repeat.