Mom guilt. I’ve experienced more of it in the past weeks than I have in the last five years, and believe me, I’ve experienced it plenty. It’s ugly, messy, inconvenient and real. I’ve learned though that it’s a normal part of motherhood. It shows up when I see her quietly playing on her own, thinking she deserves to have a sibling and she shouldn’t have to be lonely. It shows up in her display of emotions when family members visit and have to leave. It shows up when she excitedly wants to show me something, and I just can’t look at it at that moment.
What is Mom Guilt?
Mom guilt is the constant worry that you aren’t doing enough as a parent, or the fear that the decisions you make will stunt your child forever. As a millennial trying to parent significantly differently from the way I was parented, I’ve experienced mom guilt over certain decisions and realities, but this time, this one is for the books.
Mommy is Always Right Here
I’ve been my daughter’s primary caregiver her whole life, that is five years. This is the first time I’ve done anything this significant that is more about me than it is about her. Granted, it is for her in the grand scheme of things, right now it’s for me. And I feel awful.
My decision doesn’t just disrupt my life, I disrupt hers. She is used to Mommy always being at home, or nearby. She is used to hugging and kissing me every day. She is used to me dropping her off and picking her up. She is used to me giving her baths, doing her hair, playing with her, doing homework with her. She is used to having her mom within her reach.
Mom Guilt Overdrive
Now, I’m just not there. Even though I have explained my impending absence to her weeks in advance, I know that having no experience with my absence means she doesn’t have any gage to compare the emotions she will experience. She knew she would be sad about Mommy going to the new house, but only the experience will explain the rest. And that is what’s eating me alive.
My kid has big emotions. Emotions I’ve been working on letting her know it’s okay to express. Like me though, she wears them on her face. She is also smart. It’s my joy to watch her face scrunch this way and that when she is trying to work something out in her head, and when she asks questions to fill in her blanks. When she is scared and says ‘Mommy, you have to say “Mommy’s got you.”’ because it’s something I’ve said to her when she’s scared from before she could talk.
Her biggest emotion yet is when she misses someone. And now, that someone is me.
How I’m Handling the Mom Guilt
Being Gentle with Myself
The only way I know how to handle this is to think about how many women before me have made sacrifices for their children. I feed off of their energy. I remind myself of all the things I can do to protect her and how they are what I already do.
Thinking about the Future
Everything I have done from the day my daughter was born is for her. My family is extremely important to me and they will continue to be the driving force I feed on. I remind myself that the future I envision for her is one I did not have. That means I have to do the work. That keeps me going.
How do you handle mom guilt? Let me know in the comments.