“Mommy Guilt” is the Biggest Toxin in Your Home

Have you ever heard a dad sigh, “Oh, I have such daddy guilt.”

No.

So, women, please, let’s stop with this “mommy guilt.”

What is mommy guilt? It’s feeling sad that we aren’t perfect for our kids, that we lose our temper, that we can’t juggle it all. Do we want our daughters to grow up to be as unrealistically hard on themselves?

That’s so awesome that we care so much, but there is an option to just do a really great job instead of making ourselves miserable that we didn’t reach some pinnacle of perfection each day.

And, really, what would that perfection look like? A perfect meal, a perfect house, a perfect amount of money, so everyone’s last desire would be met? Is that really perfection or creepily suffocating?

Think about it—if you were to deliver perfection to your kids day in and day out, how would they enter into their adult lives? You’d better believe they would expect that same sparkly perfection mommy delivered. If they never see you fail, how will they accept failure when it knocks on their doors?

“Perfect” Childhoods = Really Messed up, Disappointing Adulthoods. I’m not good at math, but that’s an equation I am sure about. I’ve seen it up close and personal with people close to me.

Kids don’t want what our adult brains define as perfection. It’s totally irrelevant and boring to them.They want connection, guidance and time with us. They don’t see the laundry piling up. They don’t see that we’re not awesome cooks.

So I truly don’t suffer from this female-created “mommy guilt” at all. This doesn’t mean I’m in the corner eating Cheetos flipping through the channels. I’m busting my butt and doing my absolute best every day, and what my kids happen to get is a potty-mouthed mama who gets mediocre food on the table, but I make sure that food is homemade, there are no electronics, and we’re around the table talking about life.

Since I work full time, this time is invaluable, and in my perfect world, I’d be greeting them at the door every day after school and spending summers outside romping around, but I will not allow that to turn to “mommy guilt.” I’m rephrasing it to “Mama Does What Mama Has to Do.” If I don’t work, I’ll be living in a box on the street when I retire, and my kids would then have to take care of me. Then, and only then, would I allow “mommy guilt” to enter my vocabulary because I didn’t do my best.

In this quest to be a great mom, a million mistakes are made. A curse word sneaks past my lips here and there. I talk through gritted teeth when I’m trying to not yell like a banshee. But these things are helping show our kids that life is not perfect, and even the people we love the most have room for improvement, and family means loving the whole package, not just the polished mom who never gets flustered.

I don’t like her. She makes everyone uneasy, doesn’t she?

And please don’t think I’m encouraging you to be a jerkwad mom for the sake of having teachable moments for your kids.

I am saying we are all hard-wired to be imperfect, so let’s roll with it. We’re allowed to sit our kids down and say, “Hey, look dude, I’m doing my best here, and all I can do is my best. All I want you to do is your best.”

We don’t demand perfection from them, so why do we demand it of ourselves? Once we take perfection out of the equation and add in grace, forgiveness, and a freaking boat load of love and laughter, I think that’s nothing to feel guilty about.

All this focus on what we didn’t do today as a mom is such a disservice to these precious moments of our wee ones’ childhoods.

When you tuck yours in tonight, try not to focus on what you didn’t get done. Look at their sweet faces, and know the love that’s stomping up from your heart into your throat is apparent to them not by the clean house, perfect cookies or junky toys you threw money down on.

It’s how you stop and sit with them.

If you really wonder if you’re doing okay, go ahead and ask your kids. I often ask my kids if they know I love them and how they can tell. They almost always answer that I hug them and spend time with them.

I ask them if they need anything from me that I’m not giving them. They’re only 9 and 6, so this question inevitably leads to my not buying them enough junky toys, so I roll my eyes and kiss their foreheads.

But think about it—each day we get feedback from others. Heck, there are even bumper stickers that ask, “How’s my driving?”Ask the ones you’re parenting, “How’s my parenting?” You know they’ll shoot you straight.

You’ll find out that time is the most priceless tool in your parenting belt.

So let’s stop. When we look back, the memories they’ll have will not be of what we weren’t able to accomplish. It will be of all the dorky, goofy, awesome imperfect times that makes a family a family.

Go get ‘em, mama, and don’t you think twice about wondering if you’re doing a great job. If you can say you are truly busting your butt and doing your best, then chill out, and enjoy these lovely fruits of your labor.


YOUR Jagged Journey: Do you have “mommy guilt?” How can you shake it? What do you think you’re not doing that you could/should be doing? 

 

About Rebecca Rine

Rebecca Rine is a nonfiction writer living in Dayton, Ohio, transplanted from Chicago. She contributes to the Dayton Daily News as well as public radio. Her first book of essays is called "Sunbathing in a Body Cast" and is currently working on a book about surviving divorce called "Face Your Divorce Poo." Yay!

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