Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Guilt trippin'

Can we discuss mommy guilt for a sec?

After you have a baby (and before, a little bit, but mostly after), it can be really hard to avoid feeling guilty about everything you do, no matter what you do. You constantly wonder, "am I doing enough? Did I do that right? Did I make the right choice? Am I doing what's best?" Right? I know I'm not alone in this.

First, there are the parenting decisions that you have to make that you just don't know the "right" answers to. Which vaccination schedule? When to start solids? Do I call the pediatrician for this (insert random baffling baby symptom here)? You do your research, but your time and energy is limited, and sometimes you just have to go with your gut and hope that you made the right choice.

Then there are the decisions you have to make that involve balancing your baby's best interests and your best interests. Those are the ones that really suck. Do I quit breastfeeding/pumping because it's making me lose my sanity? Do I go back to work full-time because I love my job, even though it means very little time with my baby? Do I sleep train her so that I can get just a couple hours of sleep, please, for the love of God? In these cases, I have found it's best to consider both sides, but remind yourself repeatedly that a happy baby means a happy mama, and if you are miserable doing something just because you think it's best, your baby is going to pick up on that, and that's no good for her either. (Of course, you will still feel guilty no matter what you choose. That's part of the job description.)

Aside from the big decisions, there is just the day-to-day guilt that you can't really escape no matter what you do. "Am I doing enough to stimulate her? Am I hovering over her too much? I should read to her more... I feel like I never read to her. Oh no. She's going to grow up to be illiterate and hate school and will never succeed in life." (When really, let's be honest-- at this point, she thinks books are for teething.) Maybe this is just a new-mom thing, or maybe I way-overthink every little thing and I'm a crazy person, but I think it's freaking exhausting.

So tell me, what gives you mommy guilt? And more importantly, how do you let go of it in order to keep your sanity?


Christie said...

I am one of those working Moms you talk about. I love my job but I hate that I miss my Baby's day to day Life.
I get evenings and weekends with her but it is impossible not to feel like a part time Mama.

I do know though that I am doing what is best in providing for her, and building a future for her.

Meg said...

I could have written this myself. I constantly wonder if I'm being the best mom I can be to her. I especially sympathize with the pumping issue, and the day-to-day guilt.

At the end of the day, I just have to think about how happy she looks crawling around and squealing, and how she lights up when I walk into the room. This must mean that I'm doing okay, right?

MSLibLady said...

I always feel bad if I'm away from him for more then just the work day. I always feel guilty if I'm going to be home late or if I go out on the weekends and he's being babysat. It doesn't happen often, but there's always a little nagging voice in the back of my head!

KMc said...

Don't worry, we all have Mommy guilt from time to time. It means you're a good Mommy (always thinking of your little one). I have felt guilt for many things but at the end of the day I know I'm a great Mommy. I trust my instincts in decision making and make sure that even on a full working day to take time out to hug and love up my little guy. :-)

Bobbi Janay @When did I go from a kid to a grown up? said...

I feel everything you are saying.

edmo said...

Honestly, I don't know what's wrong with me but I don't have a lot of mommy guilt. I work full time but I don't feel guilty sending him to daycare. I know he is stimulated in a different way by different people and is still able to be fully loved and entertained by his parents. I don't wonder if we are making the right decisions because I feel pretty confident in the way we are doing things - learning as we go and always keeping his and our best interests in mind. Maybe that means we're doing it all wrong, who knows. But I admit, it does feel a lot better than worrying all the time.

Kristi said...

I am knee deep in mommy guilt most days. I love that my daughter is independent enough to sit in her seat while I sew, craft, cook, . . . But am I ignoring her during those times? And then there are the days that we end up out of the house during a time she should really be napping. Maybe I shouldn't run to Target at all, ever. It is so hard. Most days I end up realizing that I need my space and my time and if she is happy, that is all that matters, but somedays that guilt is there every minute of the day. And I don't think there will ever be a day without it.
Just remember that we are all only human and loving our children is what is really important. The guilt we feel is really a sign of love and care.

MiMi said...

Hi Julia! I have been MIA from blogging. =( Caroline is getting so big!
I was watching Nat Geo TV yesterday and dino autopsy ( i think its called) came on and I screamed and said, " I know him!!!". Dh looked at me and was like huh? You know him? I said not really i have seen him in pictures! lol! It was Tyler! ;) The show was great! Very interesting!
Glad to see everything is going well!!


MiMi said...

I Have days where I feel that everything that I am doing with him is wrong. I feel that I do not read to him also, that i do not play with him enough ( since i do work and schoolwork from home). I have to stop myself because if not i would go crazy. I realize that I am trying to do the best that I can. If I think that I need to work more in one area then I try but I also realize that I am not perfect. ;)

Bex said...

I'm not the type of person who feels guilt, so I thought when I became a mother I wouldn't feel all the pressure I'd heard described. And then Jack was born, and of course, something clicked in my brain and that thing was Mommy Guilt, served with a side of Mommy Worry. The guilt is more like a constant fear of making the wrong choice, whatever that is. Is it wrong that he gets a bottle of formula instead if solely breastmilk? Is it wrong for me to set him down with a toy so I can check my email? Same as what you're describing. But the truth is that of course there are a few things that are WRONG, like not using a carseat, but I truly think the rest makes no difference compared to the damage we could cause just by stressing about it all the time. Because anxious, unhappy children come from anxious, rigid parents. So I try to just keep him safe and healthy, and then relax about the rest.

This got very long! Sorry about that!

Vanessa Washburn said...

I had a hue guilt fest a few night ago. After spending a week with a growing to do list and getting almost none of it done (do the dishes, clean the bathtub, scrub the toilet..it may be growing something by this point) I went to my grad school class on Monday night.
When I retuned home my wonderful husband had done all of those chores and more in 3 hours of being home alone with our screaming infant (now 2 months old). Most mothers would be thrilled by this. And while I appreciated it, the overwhelming feeling I experienced was pure guilt.
My husband works all day, and then came home and did more work. This stay at home mom stuff can be tough sometimes.Especially when i feel completely useless. But alas, here I am again, I should be vacuuming, but instead I am finding comfort in the writing of other moms who go through the same things.