Living and Dealing with "Mother’s Guilt."

I have a good friend who used to tell me (before I had a child) that she always felt guilty as a mom. And I always thought she was crazy. What in the world do moms have to feel guilty about? They do everything, for-crying-out-loud!

Now that I have a child….I totally get it. 

I feel guilty if I feel like I am not spending enough time with her.

I feel guilty if she is bad because it must be my poor parenting skills that have made her this way.

I feel guilty if she doesn’t eat dinner because she was being too picky because now she is going to starve to death.

I feel guilty that I have to work because we don’t get the one-on-one time that stay-at-home moms get with their kids.

I feel guilty if I don’t work because I don’t have the extra money for her to do extra curricular activities.

Do you see what I mean?!

Oh my word, this is a problem. I sometimes think I need therapy or something. 

If you let this “mother guilt” get too far out of hand, you can seriously end up getting yourself down. 

And it’s even worse when you have one of those days

Today I had one of those days. And when I say one of those days, I mean, one of those days where all of my children (my dog, my husband, and my actual child) were making me completely crazy with the whining, the nagging, the needing, the complaining, and the rebellion. One of those days where you really want a boat so that you, and you alone can sail off into the sunset and you can be all by yourself. 

But, I don’t have a boat and that really is never going to happen, so I opted for option 2. Option 2 was muting the monitor (because my child wouldn’t stop screaming because she didn’t want to take a nap), and took a steaming hot shower (because I am freezing and my husband won’t turn the heat up higher because “we are on a budget”) and just cried. 

Ever have those crying shower moments? 

So after I “cried it out” I realized that this “Mother’s Guilt” thing has to stop. I know it won’t go away for good, but I need to at least get in under control. It’s certainly not helping anything.

So here are my tips and thoughts on dealing with “Mother’s Guilt:”

1. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.
Sometimes you are just going to have one of those days. So you just have to remember that it was one of those days and move on. Tomorrow is a new day. 

2. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
So the kids are talking back. So you forgot to mail out that Verizon bill. It’s okay!! We all make mistakes. We, as moms, have a lot of responsibilities. If you forget something here or there, or if you have a rough day with the kiddos, don’t be so hard on yourself. It happens to us all.

3. Don’t lose your cool.
Don’t lose your cool even if it’s really, really hard. Your kids are always watching you. Try to keep steady even when they test you….and test you….and test you. 

4. Get some time to yourself. 
Ask the hubby to watch the kiddos on Saturday and get away for a couple hours. Some time to yourself will do you wonders!

5. Remember how blessed you are. 
This guilt thing is tough. But I try to remember that I would rather have mommy guilt than not be a mommy at all. We are blessed with our kids. We love them more than anything- that’s why we feel this guilt. So put the negative away and remember that you are blessed. 

Remember that you are a wonderful mom! You may feel guilty for this and that, but in the grand scheme of things, those little things don’t matter much. Your kids look up to you and love you regardless of the small things. 

Forget the guilt and bring on the joy! 

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62 thoughts on “Living and Dealing with "Mother’s Guilt."

  1. Ali, what a wonderful message for everyone whether it is mommy guilt, work guilt, wife guilt, etc. I've known your mom since I was 13 years old. She did an amazing job as a mom. I'm sure she had the guilt you describe. Thanks for supporting the new generation of moms. Love, Laurie

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  3. Laurie, I have probably said this a million times and people without children cannot possibly understand. Motherhood is a guilt trip. I am a momma of 9 and I think all my grey hairs are mostly from guilt. We have to give ourselves a pass to let it go sometimes. We do our best and though we love to criticize ourselves, our best is good enough. Tricia @ farmishmomma.com

  4. Well said! As a mom of 5, there is always guilt…so and so isn’t getting one on one time, etc. But I love your POWERFUL statement of I’d rather be a mommy than not a mommy at all. I think on “one of those days” we should all have that on a sticky note (maybe next to the chocolate or in the shower!) Give yourself grace. 🙂

  5. Great post. I enjoyed reading it. I agree that we all have mom guilt. In fact I was just talking to my husband about that yesterday. Rolling with the punches & doing the best that we know how to do at that given moment helps.

  6. I agree. Mom guilt stinks! Well I mean of course I’ve never had mom’s guilt, I always know exactly what I’m doing and have the confidence to back it up….(wait, lying is a sin, right? Ok, so scratch that.) No but seriously, I think MOST of us do the best we can which is probably more than enough. But yeah it’s hard, this is the one thing you definitely don’t want to fail at! So thanks for the reminder, I really liked your post 🙂

  7. I agree. The whole motherhood thing is not easy. There are days I just want to stay in my duvet and not face the family. Sometimes other ‘well meaning’ ;parents make me feel like a failure but there are many who have really encouraged me. You are doing a great job!

  8. What a wonderful article. I’m not a mum yet, but I can totally relate to it because we women always find reasons to feel guilty for everything. Sometimes I think it’s so easy to be a man as they don’t seem to blame themselves for anything. I definitely learn a lot from my hubby: letting go of the world’s opinion and just taking care of our own happiness, for instance. No reason to feel guilty for being a brilliant mum, Ali!

  9. Hi Ali!
    I enjoyed reading your honesty today. It made me smile right away with the first paragraph. Life before children seems to be quite the kaleidescope of ideas which are inconsistent to life with children ( incl. hubby and dog,etc).

    Way to go on your shower and your willingness to let the tears flow. Tears are a healing and a stress reliever and it is ok to let them fall. You are a wise momma, too, in that you know that you are being watched. It will serve you well in the future.

    One thing you need to remember, my momma told me when my now 18 yo was just a toddler, ” If momma isn’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Sometimes we need to take care of us so that we can take care of our precious family and there is NO guilt in that.

    Take good care of you! It was nice to find your words this morning and a healthy dose of positive encouragement to keep my own head up. ( I need that with teenagers and hormones running rampant in my house.) 🙂
    Blessings!
    Dawn

  10. Being a parent is difficult. We often forget that our needs matter too. That can cause us to always think we are not living up to par. I always find myself wishing I was more like these other moms that seem to be able to do it all, when I struggle with the minimum. It doesn’t get any easier. But I am hoping I learn to be better at dealing with it.

  11. What a fantastic post! I also work outside the home, bc w/o that income we wouldn’t be able to have all the extras that we enjoy, and that my son is slowly beginning to enjoy. But I constantly feel as though I don’t get enough time with him, so that when I am with him I refuse to anything else. Our house is messy, my blog suffers and I don’t workout. I need to take heed to some of your words, and take care of ME first!

    Thank you for writing this!

    Jillian
    http://www.babydoodah.com

    • I totally understand! I just hopped over to your blog, by the way- and I love it!! I also found you on facebook! Have a great day:)

  12. What an honest post! I don’t have kids, so I can’t say I ever experienced Mom guilt, but after reading your post, I can imagine that I would. It also gave me a better understanding of what my mom probably experienced at times too. Your tips for dealing with unhealthy guilt can be helpful in any guilt prone situation. Thanks for sharing it.

  13. It is so refreshing to read your version of events. So many of my mummy friends talk as though their life is one giant bowl of roses, and I always end up feeling like a complete failure. I’m disorganised, messy and lose my temper very quickly. My husband moved out 3 months ago (when my youngest was 7 weeks old), and if I thought my maternal skills were tested before, they are stretched to their limit now. So it’s nice to hear someone else say that it can be hard and it doesn’t make you a bad person if sometimes you just need to escape into your own head for a while. Believe me, you are alone.

    • I am so sorry to hear about your husband!! Praying for you! Glad that I am not alone with the “guilt” feeling, but don’t be hard on yourself! I am sure you are doing a great job!!

  14. I’m not a mom, but I do understand guilt. I don’t spend enough time with friends. I don’t get to see my family who lives out of town enough. I don’t spend as much time working as I should. You sound like a very caring mother. Guilt, be gone!

  15. Very important post – it’s important for us mothers to care for ourselves, otherwise we can’t take care of everyone else!

  16. What a wonderful post – inspired by your own “one of those day” moments. I was just feeling this guilt not even a couple hours ago. It’s so easy to fall into it especially when others remind you of the mistakes you may be making or what they are doing that “works for them”. And then I stop to think – my kiddo thinks I’m the best mommy in the world (most likely because I am all she knows as a mom haha!) and that’s really all that matters. Your tips are great, and good for you for taking a nice steamy shower and allow yourself to “cry it out” 😦

  17. When I was pregnant with my second son I was seriously struggling with the type of mom guilt you are describing, so I decided that I needed to make a change and sought the help of a counselor. What we came up with is when I get myself worked up feeling guilt, I stop and ask myself, “what can I do to be the best mom I can be IN THIS MOMENT.” It forces me to snap back in to the moment and make the best decision for the present, rather than to contemplate whether it’s going to affect my 16 month old’s college admission or whether my oldest will be obese because he snuck 8 chocolate chip cookies while my back was turned. I hope you find some comfort in that too!

  18. I think every mom suffers from that mother’s guilt – I know I do! Your tips were great and sometimes we just need that reminder (and sometimes, even when we share those reminders with others, we need to sit back and read them ourselves and listen to them, hint hint! 😉 )

  19. It’s amazing what a hot shower and a good cry can do to help get your equilibrium back. Being a mom is the best toughest job in the world. When ever I’m having a bad day I think that this will pass. Counting your blessing and focusing on the good aspects of any day helps us take our mind off those bumps in the road.

  20. Funny how I came across your blog today…when I too am having one of those days! When your kids are sick(like mine) it’s awful. I have also been on both sides of the fence, I worked when my oldest was a baby, and then started staying home when baby 2 came along. It’s hard no matter what the situation. I too have been trying to remind myself, that tomorrow will be better..:)

  21. I find the best cure for mommy gilt is to lend a helping hand to a younger mother or have coffee with a mature momma 🙂

  22. Hi Ali, great post! My own children are grown now, but I do remember those feelings of guilt. Nowadays I have feelings of guilt for my puppy. I’m not spending enough time with him and training him better. But I’m working full time and blogging and trying to keep up with my cooking and cleaning. I do get him out for a walk most days and he does know the basic commands, but I feel sometimes he is bad because he is bored. What’s a doggy mommy to do? We have a dog park nearby but it is closed for the winter. I think he’ll be happier in spring when we can go to the dog park and he can interact with other dogs. I hope things improve for you too!

  23. I hear you 100%!!! It’s almost like you were in my head, and my heart. I have these moments and I know that sometimes it’s just foolish, and sometimes it just needs to be let go. I just truly need to work on that balance. I know I am a good mom, my kids are fed (when they choose to eat), they have clothes on their backs (when I can keep up with the laundry), and most importantly they are loved (even if it embarrasses them). I, myself need to remember that, that is what is important.

  24. This is so true! I need to remember that on a daily basis, I beat myself up so much sometimes, I find myself decline invite to do anything with other grown up because I feel like i’ve already taken too much time being a way from them going to work.

    Thank you for the post this is an important reminder for us moms.

  25. Great post! I never really understood this until this past year with my son. I feel guilty I have to work outside the home. I feel guilty I don’t always make him homemade baby food and buy the baby food jars. Thanks for the little encouragement this week…comes at a great time!

  26. I suffer from “mommy guilt” all the time. I don’t know why we women blame and yell at ourselves for things we would never complain about in another person. I really need to work on cutting myself a little slack and crying in the shower more often. It’s about the only “me” time I get some days and it’s pretty precious time. Thanks for the reminder!

  27. I agree, except with #3, I think sometimes you need to loose your cool, but only every now and then, so they understand what totally pushes you over the edge, and that it’s ok, it happens to everyone. At least, that is how I feel about loosing my cool with my preteens, it has helped my oldest learn how to recover from losing her cool much better (I sometimes give in to loosing my cool when I know I can teacher her something)

  28. I don’t have any kids yet but I think this is something women do all the time. It’s like no matter what happens we take the blame. It’s really good to show other women that it’s not our fault and that we can’t always be responsible for everything especially when we’re doing our best.

  29. Thank you Ali…I struggle with guilt in every detail of my parenting. It’s like there’s this voice in my head – contradicting every move and every decision I make, saying, “That wasn’t good enough / You’re being selfish / That wasn’t smart / You’re stupid / You’re ruining your children…” I’m SO TIRED OF IT! I work so hard, love my family so much, and I deserve to feel like I’m doing something good…because I am! I’ve learned to start verbally telling myself that I’m beautiful and a good mother. It’s amazing to me how UNCOMFORTABLE it feels when I look in the mirror and say that…making it clear that I need to keep doing it! lol

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