Jason and I are determined to get to the end of our lives with no regrets. It’s our life’s work.
So, having said that, I pose a question that challenges me big time:
How much “mommy guilt” is normal?
Many moms have some level of it, usually when it comes to being away from their kids. But when does this guilt start to serve as a warning sign — a red flag — telling you that you need to make some changes?
I sat in on a discussion last week that really got me thinking. Two experienced work-at-home moms were sharing their thoughts with a newbie mom about the balance, and how “mommy guilt” is real and inevitable and it’s best to get over it and let it go. But the way they described their experiences with the guilt really got my attention. They were hugely emphatic about its painful intensity. So much so, I felt unable to relate. Sure, I have guilt…but “how much” is relative and hard to calculate. I’ve certainly never felt as intensely guilty as they described.
Looking through my lens of “no regret,” I couldn’t help but wonder, are they setting themselves up for regrets later? Am I?
So, where’s the line between “normal” amounts of guilt that come from our culture’s highly prevalent but unachievable Supermom ideal, and the kind of guilt that should NOT be ignored? Is it like pain, which is something that serves a purpose, telling you that something is wrong?
Are high levels of “mommy guilt” serving the purpose of telling us things are not balancing out in a healthy way?
I have been making time for afternoon naps with Benny. It’s amazing for my soul. Is there work to be done? Hells yeah. Emails are filling my box by the minute, paperwork to be processed covers my desk, our family hamper is overflowing, dirty dishes cover my counter, homeschooling projects for Lucy fill my former kindergarten teacher head, and yet I am napping on the couch with my 7-week-old son.
The reality is, he will NEVER remember if I set him down and tackle my to-do list.
But I will.
How do I nap peacefully knowing all that I NEED to be doing?
Two words: No. Regrets.
When Ben is 18 and I’m sitting at his high school graduation, I will have no regrets that I didn’t savor this stage of his childhood.
It’s a constant challenge to find peace in the balance.
If your mommy guilt is high, ignore the temptation to rationalize it away by saying “it’s normal” and “every mom struggles with it.” Make sure you’ve gifted yourself with the mental space to ask yourself the hard question:
Will I have regrets?
[ Instagram photo of me and Ben, shot with my iPhone ]
Brandon Phelps says
you and Jason inspire me to be my best self. Thank you for all you do to help the masses rebel against the status quo of adult responsibility. Your article on Mommy Guilt reminded me of watching my wonderful wife look after our three amazing daughters during church. The girls didn’t realize she was watching them and she had no idea I was reading the story her face told me. It inspired me to write this poem:
A Mother’s Smile
by Brandon Phelps
Her face expresses Happiness
yet the Smile conceals the Heart;
for her Joy deceives the masses
as she’s questioning her Part.
“Am I really all I can be?
Am I learning from the past?
Is it wrong for me to wish
my Baby not grow up too fast?
“I love this role of Mother,
which calling is divine;
yet I’m questioning my worthiness
and why this job is mine.
“The blessing of my Child
I often feel I don’t deserve,
though I know I’m being Sanctified
in this sacred way I serve.
“I know my Father loves me
or this Child would not be here.
And though His Trust is overwhelming
I can feel His Spirit near.
“I will not fail this calling
as I raise this Child in Love,
for I know in whom I’ve trusted;
my Help, my Strength, my God above.
Thought you might relate. Thanks for being awesome.
Heber City, UT 84032