The decorative pillows on my couch and loveseat used to have fringe on them. Used to.
When my daughter was three weeks old I sat on my loveseat and propped her up on one of the decorative pillows to nurse her. When she was done I stood up with her and she let out her very first cry out of pain. The fringe had wrapped around one of her teeny tiny little toes. Now me being a new mom, hormonal, and overly emotional, immediately burst into tears. How could I have let something like that happen to my sweet little innocent baby? What kind of mother was I? We had my dad and my brother staying with us then and they burst into the room with the oddest looks on their faces. As soon as they realized why I was crying I could tell they were trying not to laugh. Can you blame them? I totally laugh about it now. But the hilarity of the situation only grew once I promptly walked to the kitchen, grabbed some scissors, and proceeded to cut off each and every bit of loopy fringe from those pillows. This, my friends, is what we call the irrational feeling of Mommy Guilt.
Mommy Guilt is a wide spread side effect of child birth. It comes on strong and sudden and is uncontrollable. While a suffering Mommy is usually quite aware of how irrational her guilty thoughts are, there’s no stopping them. And the worst part? I’m pretty sure Mommy Guilt never goes away. Mommy Guilt can strike when you least expect it and it can stem from almost any situation. I’d never been on a guilt trip so bad in my life until I experienced Mommy Guilt.
Moms have a naturally and instinctual desire to care for their babies. We’re naturally tuned into our children from the start. Each cry causes us to jump into action and help our poor little helpless babies. But what happens when you can’t get to that cry fast enough? Mommy Guilt. When my daughter was younger I shed countless tears because of it. If I was running an errand and she needed to nurse I would feel horrible if I didn’t feed her fast enough. When she was just a few days old we had friends over who I actually asked to leave. I was about to burst into tears because my daughter was crying and I felt like they were stopping me from giving her the care she needed as fast as I could have if they weren’t there. Incredibly irrational right?
Even now, fully knowing that Mommy Guilt is ever present and not always logical, it still gets me. Just the other day I felt guilty for not colouring with her so that I could get the dishes done. What’s silly about that is she was perfectly fine with that! After I said I couldn’t she went and coloured by herself and would bring her drawings to the kitchen to show me. Lately I’ve been thinking about possibly getting a sitter but I don’t really want too, especially at night, because I worry that if she woke up and I wasn’t there she would be scared and upset. Just thinking about it makes me feel guilty!
I think the most important thing to know about Mommy Guilt is that you can’t let it consume you. It’s okay to take time for ourselves, and it’s okay for our kids to learn to play by themselves. It’s okay that you let them watch TV so you can check your email. It’s okay that you didn’t cook a decent dinner that day and just gave your tot some cheese and crackers instead. It’s okay to feel guilty once in a while.
Mommy Guilt isn’t going to go away. And I’m glad for that. We need that feeling of natural guilt to strike a balance, especially in today’s world where we’re surrounded by distractions. Without mommy guilt we might all be drinking coffee and checking facebook while our kids spend the whole day zoning out on PBS and Nick Jr. Learn to embrace your Mommy Guilt and be sure to thank it once a day, but just make sure you learn to push it away sometimes too.