The Dark Side of Mom Guilt

I often find myself feeling guilty of *something* almost every day and after a while it becomes too much to bear and I break down. And not just screaming back at my toddler when she is in the middle of a tantrum, but full-blown tears of feeling useless and like a terrible mother, for being stuck in this uncontrollable situation (cranky toddler + pandemic isolation and fear). I really wish it weren’t there case, but mostly I wish that it wasn’t as common for parents to feel this way (it happens to soooo many of us!).

typical toddler tantrum

I wish I didn’t feel guilty for leaving kiddo for an extra 10 minutes in her crib after she wakes up just so that I can get one last ounce of sleep or finish my coffee while it is still hot. I wish I didn’t feel guilty for eating the last few raspberries when I know she loves them. I wish I didn’t feel guilty for letting her sit in her poop for an extra 20 minutes because the impending diaper change is a tear-filled wrestling match, especially when she clearly doesn’t mind it. I wish I didn’t feel guilty for having dad handle the bedtime routine so that I can get some alone time. I wish I didn’t feel guilty that I didn’t clean anything today, this week, or even this month because I was busy with a toddler and a business and my demons. I wish I didn’t feel guilty for bailing on family time at the last minute because I really just want my husband to take the toddler out of the house and stay alone for a while, for some well-needed silence. I wish I didn’t feel guilty for these simple things that clearly won’t matter in the long term, especially when some of these things I literally NEED to keep moving forward.

The thing is, who the hell told us to feel guilty?!? Did an actual person ever tell us we should feel bad for that one thing, or did we imagine it or self-impose it? And if it was an actual person, are they an important person in our lives to dictate how we feel…? Probably not. So rather than fight the problem, let’s find a solution. Lets agree to feel the emotions, to be okay with trial and error through motherhood, and to not impose this unrealistic need onto others to be perfect in all aspects of parenthood and career and life. It is such a dangerous game in which I have decided to no longer participate.

So I invite you to join me in promising yourself to take a few seconds and truly ask yourself these questions before letting mom guilt settle in: Will this cause physical injury or harm? Will this cause long term mental instability or emotional harm? Will this cause serious and warranted regret? If the answer is no, then go for it! If the answer is yes, then perhaps ask for help from the many of us who will absolutely be in your corner if you need us.

And remember, if at first you don’t succeed—try and try again! Just like little miss’ adorable attempts to give mama kisses!

Simple but oh-so-meaningful moments like these are what motherhood means to me, and I vow to try my darn hardest to remember them every time I get flustered, frustrated, or infuriated with being a mother — because we would be lying to ourselves if we said that it never happened. And it is totally OKAY for it to happen!


stephanie de montigny SdeM handrawn initials ottawa blogger