I don’t think you can fully understand mom guilt, until/unless you’re actually a mom. How hard can it really be to just take a shower? To just leave your kids with a babysitter? To watch the tv show that you wanted to? The truth is, mom guilt is going to find ways to seep in no matter what you’re doing. You’re going to feel guilty even if you’re doing everything right.
I remember when Bastian was barely a week old, and breaking down and sobbing to Seth. I didn’t feel like an adequate mom. And I felt like I must be making decisions that would be harmful to his development. We had coslept for the first week, and then transferred him to a moses basket next to our bed. As I was contemplating this transition, I had people tell me that we should continue cosleeping since that was better. And I also had people telling me that they couldn’t believe I’d coslept for an entire week! Those comments weren’t said with harm. But I felt full of guilt and shame. I cried and cried to Seth(hello postpartum hormones).
Here’s the thing. Mom guilt is going to follow you everywhere. Also about a week after having Bastian, I went and got a massage. Labor and delivery does a serious number on your body. I was sore in places I had NEVER been sore before. So, I scheduled an appointment early, so I’d hopefully be home before Bastian woke up. I pumped a bottle, and I left. And I CRIED the whole way there. And during the massage. Aaaand on the way home. Until I had my little newborn in my arms again. I felt guilty that I was leaving and taking time to myself, when my child was so little. I felt guilty that he may need to take a BOTTLE, rather than be breastfed(even though it was still breastmilk). And I felt guilty leaving my husband in charge of our child alone.
That memory is ridiculous. I wish I could say that this is never the case, but here we are, nearly nine months later. And I am filled with guilt anytime I leave the house without my baby. And not even that, I feel guilty when I do things for myself. If I do anything besides housework while the baby is sleeping, I feel guilty. Or if I decide to watch the Bachelor while my baby is awake, rather than a French children’s show.
Mom guilt will follow you everywhere. The most helpful thing for me, to absolve those feelings of guilt, is having such an understanding and supportive husband. Keeping yourself from feeling that mom guilt is all about your mindset. You are a better mom when you take time for yourself and to take care of yourself.
The easiest way for me to change that mindset, is to not let myself do housework or regular work, until I have done something for myself. What that looks like day by day changes. Some days, it’s doing a workout while Bastian sleeps. Other days, it’s reading, writing something that’s not work related, or sitting back and drinking a cup of coffee while I scroll through Instagram or Twitter for non-work related reasons. Do something for YOU, and remind yourself that taking this moment helps you become a better mom. And that’s important.
They say that it takes a village to raise a child, and it’s true. I went into motherhood thinking that I had to do it all by myself. And that’s just not true. I have an amazing village that raises my child with me. My husband, Bastian’s godmother, his babysitter, his grandparents, his aunts and uncles, and close friends. I’m still learning to sit back and let others help me raise him without feeling guilt. But by letting others help, I’m able to take the time for myself that’s necessary to be a good mother.