Reverse "Mom Guilt"

When you hear the term "Mom Guilt" I'm sure you think about all the ways that you feel you're failing as a parent. Maybe, you look in retrospect and think about how you could have "done more." You see other mom's and you compare yourself; you're always seemingly falling short.

Luckily, we're in a new age of embracing our sisters in motherhood and calling out the bull$hit that comes with shaming, judgement and cliques. There are trending hashtags and social media influencers that tell us that being a "bad" mom is ok and maybe even funny. They share common parenting blunders that we can all relate to and make us feel less shame for our own recent fails. These pages give us a sense of community and a place to commiserate with fellow moms.

Nothing to see here, just pooping in the back of the truck

I love that we're lifting each other up in a way that makes the "bar" of motherhood feel a more attainable but I think there's another kind of side of Mom guilt that we are totally missing! We might all have our "bad mom" moments but we also spend a lot of time strategically thinking about how we're going to raise our children and making "good mom" choices.


There are many sacrifices that we make in order to be a good moms and there is relentless shame and guilt for what must be sacrificed for the sake of our children. We make millions of decisions about how we will raise them and what we will give up in order to do it right. No, we don't consult the "village" and we don't ask permission from society or friends and family. We naturally expect people to respect our choices but that expectation just falls endlessly flat. We expect people to recognize that something must give when we enter parenthood and that our relationships and social habits will change.


You would think that our single friends and family would be the biggest offenders but I'm not sure that's the case. Single folks tend to understand that they just plain don't understand and they trust that what you're choosing to do as a parent is right. In fact, how you're parenting may influence how those people parent someday. From what I've experienced, these relationships either go the direction of the "cool auntie" or they just move to the back burner until your lives are better aligned.


What is sadly more challenging is the judgment that weighs on us from our other parent relationships. These people will have a harder time understanding why you aren't prioritizing your relationship with them in the same way that they would. It's easy to think that everything is apples-to-apples because you both have children. That couldn't be further from the truth.


We are all individuals and should be treated as such. Assuming good intent and seeking to understand is always a good way to approach.


Yes, maybe we're both moms but everyone has their own struggles and beliefs that shape their decisions.

A mom might:

  • not have the support that you think she has at home. Looks can be deceiving and division of responsibility is complicated among parents. You never know the struggles that might be going on within a marriage behind closed doors

  • have parenting philosophies that conflict with your choice of activity or atmosphere: like restricting screen time, 2nd hand smoke, alcohol or drug use, or censoring from profanity and violence

  • have metal health struggles like anxiety or depression, which may make a variety of situations more challenging

  • have a child with specific needs like: dietary restrictions, behavior triggers, immunodeficiency, sleep issues, sensory overload, social challenges or even something seemingly simple such as: motion sickness, issues with tantrums or listening

Those are just a few examples of unique situations that may influence the decision of a mother.

Nonetheless, here we are, taking on the guilt that is the result of us choosing to be a the best mom we know how to be. I don't know about you, but I will innately always choose my child and my family first. I expect that others will do that same and I try to assume good intent when their choices don't align to what I would personally do.

Give some grace to the mom's in your life.

If you're a mom feeling some serious guilt, pick yourself up and brush of the petty judgement. Be proud and confident in the way that you are prioritizing your family. I don't know about you, but I brought my child into this world with full intent to always give it my all.

We're not talking about getting a puppy here... we're shaping the lives of real PEOPLE! It's kind of a big deal...


Tips:


Be confident and don't waver when you communicate your choices

If you want to provide your rationale, go for it, but you don't owe that to anyone.

"We will be asking for the check and a box now and heading home. Feel free to take your time, we just won't be able to stay."


Validate the feelings of your friends and family

"I hear how disappointed you are that we can't come to your party."

You don't have to be an asshole. If you care about this person, make sure they know you care and recognize how they feel.

But..choose what you think is right for you and your circumstances.


Clearly communicate

Don't created mixed messages with a "maybe". Use absolutes as much as possible.

"We will not be attending."

"She cannot have any sweets."

"We are leaving at 5pm."


Also find other ways to to still connect to the people that matter to you. Just because you're prioritizing your family doesn't mean that you should forgo all other relationships. Find a way to connect with your loved ones but in a way that aligns to your life and values. Maybe you can't attend that party but you want to chat later to hear how it went or catch up.


When I leave because it's getting too close to my child's bedtime, I can't go out to eat because my child didn't nap and will inevitably meltdown, I turn down a gathering that I don't think is in an appropriate environment, or I choose to stay home because my child gets carsick; yes, I'm aware that I could be more flexible.

I could "loosen up".

Maybe I did yesterday. Maybe I did last week. Maybe today I don't have the mental capacity to take on more. Maybe I'm just prioritizing what I know my child needs over something else. You'll probably never know but that's why you should assume good intent.

Support your fellow moms.

Hell, support your fellow humans in all aspects. We all need to be shown more grace and understanding.

Own motherhood. Do it the way that you feel in your gut is right and don't let anyone make you question your priorities.