When I was pregnant, a friend of mine told me this of motherhood: "It's the hardest job you'll ever love". She was so right. Being a mom is the best thing that has ever happened to me but it's certainly not without its challenges. The greatest challenges, though, have nothing to do with the physical work of motherhood; it's the emotional weight that is my biggest hurdle as a mom. The weight of providing for my child's every need - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual - is something fierce.
And the mom guilt is like nothing I've ever experienced.
My mom guilt came in strong from the very beginning. I was a single pregnant mom and felt like I had failed from the start. I felt guilty for not being good enough to make my son's dad want to be with us. Yes, I know this isn't true but that's the number one job of mom guilt - to make us feel like we are not enough. Like we aren't being enough, doing enough or giving enough.
This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Primrose Schools; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
I'm sure it goes without saying but since I am a single mom, I have never had the option to be a stay at home mom. I will always be a working mom. I have had the good fortune of being a work at home mom for my son's first three years and now I spend minimal time out of the house but, of course, I feel guilty because I can't give my son my time & attention the way I'd like to or the way I think I should. Often times he has to occupy himself while I sit at my computer and write or check my emails or scour the internet for information to use in articles or share on my social media networks. I also recently had to put him in preschool, something I never thought I would do so that I could have a few hours to work at my office. At first, I thought about him all day and felt guilty about "leaving him" and now I feel guilty that I can get so focused on my work that a few hours will go by without thinking about him.
I mean, what kind of mother doesn't think about her child 24/7?
Does any of this sound familiar?
Sure, some of the details may be different but according to research, 85% of working moms say that they frequently wish they had more time to spend with their family (MRI 2017) and 73% of moms like to give the impression that their life is under control. (MRI 2017).
So, what exactly does this mean?
It means that far too many of us working moms feel like we aren't enough but we really want to make it look like we are!
And it needs to stop.
As working moms, we need to rise above the noise, whether internal or external and put an end to mom guilt. We need to understand that we are enough and we don't need to prove to anyone that we have things under control because we don't and when we act like we do all it does is make other moms feel bad. And you don't want to be "that" mom.
Here are 3 things that help me to rise above mom guilt:
Recite Positive Affirmations
On a daily basis, I say positive things about myself to myself... out loud. Things like, "I'm a good mom", "I have all the resources I need to successfully parent my child", "I am enough". After a while, I actually start to believe them, too!
Focus on My Strengths
I am a good mom but I'm no Patty Pinterest. I'm not a great cook, I'm even worse at baking and I couldn't sew to save my life. But I don't think about those things (often). Instead, I focus on the excitement on my son's face when I hand him his lunch and he knows there's a heart-shaped sandwich inside or that my lack of craftiness and chosen career path of working with kids has made me pretty darn good at crafts that anyone can do. I'm also a great storyteller, a pretty good silly song singer and, most of all, I love my son more than anyone on this earth. When I think about all of the things I am giving my son, I don't have much time to think about the things I'm not.
Turn the Negative Into Positive
As I mentioned earlier, my son started preschool recently. This was an extremely difficult decision for me because I am a big advocate of learning through play, at home. But, as I was taking on another job that would require some work outside of the home, childcare became necessary. Now it was just a matter of what was the best form of care for my son and there is no reason for me to ever feel guilty about trying to make the best decision for our unique set of circumstances.
In fact, as a working mom, having my son in an environment where he is so deeply loved, and where he is thriving, makes me feel less guilty about the fact that I have to work. I've turned something that I once saw as "negative" into something positive.
If you are a working mom who needs to put your child in childcare or preschool, instead of feeling bad about that, feel good about finding the best option out there. Look for a place like Primrose Schools, a national family of accredited early education and care schools serving infants through kindergarten that aims to nurture curiosity, confidence, creativity, and compassion.
Do your best and drop the mom guilt
We know that the majority of working moms wish we could be with our kids more, so my assumption is if you could, you would. Don't feel guilty about the fact that you work, just do your best.
I know it sounds cliché but, seriously, when is the last time you asked yourself if you are doing your best? Not whether you "could" do better or if you are living up to the standards and expectations of other people but for your unique set of circumstances and your family - are you doing your best? I think we would all be much better off if all we worried about was doing our best. Our own personal best.
Growing up, whenever I was upset about how something in my life was turning out, my mom would always ask me if I did my best. If the answer was "yes" then there was nothing more I could do but if it was "no" then we would evaluate and see how I could do better.
I have taken this with me throughout my adult life, including motherhood. Sure, there are things I could do better, but when I honestly evaluate myself as a mom and my unique situation, on most days I can say that, yes, I am doing my best. And if I am doing my best then there is nothing to feel guilty about. No one can make me feel bad for doing things differently.
Drown out the noise
If you are really going to drop the mom guilt, then you have to learn to drown out the noise. whether it's internal or external, put on your metaphorical headphones. It's pretty hard to feel guilty when you can't hear any of the reasons for why you should!
Pay it forward
Something I frequently hear is that we need to support each other as moms instead of tearing each other down. I wholeheartedly agree with this but sometimes it seems like there's more talk than action. I strongly encourage you to do something to pay it forward and show your support for other moms. It can be as simple as sending an encouraging note to a mom friend or offering to babysit for an evening. Or maybe you want to write a book, start a blog (I consider my blog to be how I pay it forward) or create an entire movement.
Big or small, you can make a difference in the lives of other moms and, together, we can all rise above the noise and drop the mom guilt.
About the Author
Hi! I'm Inez, the owner and content creator of For the Love of Mom, a website dedicated to helping moms thrive in motherhood by offering helpful advice, tips and resources.