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Things that keep me up at night… MOM GUILT.

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Surprise travel

This past weekend, I flew up to Vancouver, British Columbia to surprise a dear friend of mine, meet her new baby, spend quality time with her toddler and support their family as they enter into the new-ness of parenting two little boys in a city with no family nearby. The trip was planned weeks prior to my departure, with a big thanks to her husband’s ability to secretly manage their calendar, but like most things these days, it came quicker than I expected.

A day before I was set to leave, and long before I even thought about what I would pack for my trip, I had a visit from a good friend of mine. (No, not that monthly friend, though she came to visit as well, but don’t worry, I won’t spend the rest of my time writing about that)… Mom guilt decided to show up in Spring Creek, Nevada on the eve of my departure, and boy all mighty did it keep me up all night.

Guilt strikesMom holding baby feeling guilty about her success as a mom

Years ago, when I was single and living in Denver, I would question (briefly) some of my decisions, but never in the way that mom guilt makes me wonder about my every move now. Back then, I would spend a day or two thinking about booking a trip to see a friend, wonder if that was the best use of my most recent teacher-salary paycheck, and then get online soon after to schedule the trip. And I might question smaller things, too, like do I really need to go out to lunch on Friday or should I take the healthier/cheaper route of packing my leftovers to take instead?

But you see, these decisions, no matter how long I thought about them, never came with GUILT, no matter what I decided. Once I booked the trip, I started a countdown for it. Or if I decided to pass on travel this time, I would fill my calendar with other social things and move on. And once I planned to go out for lunch, I got excited thinking about where I would go and what non-adventurous item I would select from the menu. To be honest, I never actually took leftovers, so I have no idea what the implication of that would have been…

mom-guilt

But as a mom, decisions are hard BECAUSE of the guilt. This BINGO card pretty much sums it up. There are far more times in a day that I could feel guilty for what I do or why I do it, instead of feeling proud of what I do or why I do it. I work really hard to prevent this guilt from consuming me, but some days that is easier said than done. Especially while lying in bed with a brain that won’t shut off. I suppose this is why mom guilt keeps me up at night.

As a mom, it’s no longer about if I should commit to the trip or not. Now it’s about who will be most impacted if I go on the trip, who will forgive me fastest if I don’t go on the trip, what will life be like for whatever decision I make, and how long will I be stuck with the implications of my decision.

Oh and please don’t misunderstand this… I’m no longer talking about a trip to visit a friend or bask in the sun on the beaches of Hawaii. Nope. Mom guilt rears its ugly head when I am thinking about a trip through the drive thru at Wendy’s to pick up dinner for Lincoln. Should I make him happy, keep him quiet in the car for our drive home, and insure that he actually eats dinner by making THE trip? Or should I be a “better mom” by letting him scream the whole way home, fight me over eating roasted veggies and grilled chicken, and wonder if he actually got enough for dinner tonight.

You see, there have been many times in my motherhood journey, from pregnancy* to present, where I question my decisions before I make them, question my decisions after I make them, and feel the curse of mom guilt the whole time through. But why? What is it about the decisions we make as parents that raise so many questions? Is it that we are making choices that are impacting so many other people? Is that we live in a society that is constantly comparing what it means to be “the best” parent? Is it that we are told that parenting means selflessness and so making any self-guided decision seems just wrong? Is it that we are biologically altered after procreating and this is one result?

mom guilt

I know I’m not the only one who experiences this feeling of mom guilt. And I know some of the causes for it seem SO trivial because, well, they are! We should NOT feel guilty that we took one hour to go to the store alone, that we took 5 extra minutes in the shower to shave our legs, that we bought store-made cookies for the birthday party or that we made microwaved popcorn for dinner. We are working hard at the most important and most challenging job in the world. We are filling lots of shoes on a daily basis. And we are doing a kickass job at being moms!

IMG_5038

Before signing off, I’d like to share a recent experience with mom guilt that I had to laugh about. A few weeks ago we got lots of snow here in Spring Creek, so we were getting ready to go play in it. I had spent about 10 minutes getting Lincoln ready to go outside (anyone else spend longer getting ready to play in the snow than time in the actual snow?), and then suddenly realized that I did not have my own gloves. Since he was so excited to get outside, I decided that I would power through, glovelessly making snowballs and playing on the sled because I knew we wouldn’t be out there for long. By the time we came back in, my hands were freezing, and Lincoln was totally over being all bundled up. As I’m taking him out of his winter gear, I felt guilty that MY COLD HANDS were touching him. Really, Brittney? You selflessly played outside without gloves in order to appease your toddler and then feel bad that you touched the zipper of his snowsuit with your cold hands? Ehhhh, please. Just stop! But, really… Look at that face. If he was sad, you’d do anything to make him happy, just like I do! Maybe this where the guilt stems from. #cutekidsalwayswin

So now it’s your turn. What mom guilt keeps YOU up at night? Share it here or add it in the comments of this post. I promise ranting about it helps. Plus, if you submit one, I’ll enter you into a drawing for a newborn/baby/toddler/child sleep item of your choice (lovie, stuffed animal, sound machine, sleep sack, swaddle) up to a $25.00 value. But, you’ve gotta play to win. I’ll do the drawing on Saturday, March 17th at 1 pm pacific, so get me your answers before then! And, if I get any good ones, I’ll share them (anonymously) in my next email. #spillthebeans #humorme

paw patrol

Thanks for reading! I was starting to feel guilty that I took up so much of your time, but then I remembered that you are probably reading this while “watching” the 100th episode of PawPatrol from your DVR today, and I felt better about being a distraction for you. Unless, of course, you feel mom guilt about screen time.

 

 

 

*More to come in a few months on the guilt associated with a traumatic end of pregnancy and birth story, but that’s a deep one that takes up more Kleenex than I am currently stocked with. Gotta make a Costco run, so stay tuned… I’m aiming for June!

 

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9 Comments

  1. Cynthia Shedd on March 15, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    it’s Real! I am so glad that I am beginning a beautiful friendship with you.
    My mom guilt: not feeling “the magical bonding my-kid-is-my-whole-world” feeling I hear so many moms talk about. Don’t get me wrong, I know I love my son, He is honestly really cute, but I’m not obsessed with spending every moment of every day fawning over how cute his little toes are, etc.
    I know that other mom’s feel this way but it’s really not talked about.

    • brittneystefanicsleep on March 15, 2018 at 8:33 pm

      Oh Cynthia, I totally get it. There will be more to come on this topic later (June, I hope), but I also didn’t feel all snuggly wuggly with Lincoln when he was in the newborn stage. The good news — they get WAY more cute and WAY more fun in the coming months. There’s something to be said about the giggles, smiles and coos. Way better than baby toes!

  2. Morgan on March 15, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    I always feel a little guilty for mostly feeding my child the squeeze pouches of food, animal crackers and gold fish. They are all soo convenient! Then I remember that I do make him homemade food and that he’s alive and thriving and that’s all that matters. Pinterest keeps me up at night feeling slightly guilty but I don’t lose much sleep from mom guilt. Most of us mom’s are doing a damn good job! (I say most because there are the crazy ones in the news.)

    • brittneystefanicsleep on March 15, 2018 at 8:32 pm

      Morgan… Those pouches are LIFE! Oh my gosh. I totally feel ya on the food thing. Linc has never been an awesome eater (we continue to work on it), so the fact that he can get fruits and veggies in a pouch makes me feel like a total winner! And yes, we are!

  3. Olivia on March 15, 2018 at 10:20 pm

    Love this because you were so real about it and I definitely laughed! It’s so much harder to get past the Mom guilt when it feels like everyone has it figured out. I am new to this mama club, but the guilt started long before having my baby…right after that first pregnancy test…drinking lots of wine in Napa before knowing, possibly eating something that could hurt my baby, wanting to eat the healthiest I ever have, but the nausea making me want to eat only carbs…

    I have to remind myself that it comes out of caring and love. The most helpful for me is the support of other moms being real with their struggles helps me the most. Thank you for starting a real conversation!

    • brittneystefanicsleep on March 17, 2018 at 7:24 pm

      Olivia, welcome to parenthood, right?! Questioning everything despite doing it all out of genuine care and love. It is such a hard thing to adjust to, and I don’t know that we ever will. But, you are right, the support of other mom’s being open and honest about it, and building that tribe is what will get us all through!

  4. Jen on March 17, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    Where to start?! I’ve once pillaged my son’s stash of aforementioned squeeze pouches of pineapple (they were homemade…I must’ve been feeling EXTRA guilty that day!!) and took them on a girls trip to mix with coconut vodka for cocktails. I can’t say I felt good about taking my little guys homemade organic snacks but man the cocktails were delicious.

    In all seriousness I get the worst mom guilt when I see people post things on social media normalizing acts of parenthood that I chose not to/could not participate in. Memes promoting cosleeping or women talking about how long they breast-fed always make me question what I’ve done as a mom and whether my boys will be negatively impacted by my choices. I really think the worst type of mom guilt is the kind that is brought on by other moms being self-righteous about their choices. We’re all just doing our best! This is why I love the fact there’s an opportunity to share with this blog. It gives us a chance to laugh at our motherhood fails, because we all have them.

    • brittneystefanicsleep on March 17, 2018 at 7:27 pm

      Jen, coconut vodka with an organic pineapple mixer sounds (and tastes) amazing. I speak from experience! 🙂 Plus, you’ve gotta give yourself credit for making baby food! That was something I said I would do before becoming a mom, but didn’t up following through on that on. OOPS!

      I can 100% relate with you on the mom guilt that comes on as a result of comparison. Even if it isn’t intentional, it is so easy to look at other moms (and how they are raising their kiddos) and wonder. Is that right? Is this right? Is something else right? When push comes to shove we are all doing the BEST we can, and that needs to be recognized above all else!

  5. […] We rarely feel good enough. We constantly question ourselves and our actions. I actually wrote an entire blog post about Mom Guilt because of the prevalence of it in our […]

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