For me, the internet is a blessing and a curse. It helps me answer the question of how much medicine I can give to my coughing child at 2 am. It reassures me that a quotient really is the answer to a division problem while I’m helping my child study for math. But the downside of the internet is it shows me what moms all around the country are doing. It depicts gorgeous back drops for a pre-k class party. Articles on Google or social media share dietary tricks , multi-vitamin do’s and dont’s, how to make sure your house is the cleanest it can be, how and when you should get your baby to sleep through the night…. it’s all informative…and exhausting! So not only do we have to figure out how to keep these little people alive, but we have to make sure they have a wonderful, well-adjusted childhood where they get the best education so that they can become citizens of this hustling, bustling world and start to raise well-adjusted children of their own! Whew!!
Enter mom guilt.
Mom guilt is the feeling that you’re not meeting the expectations of what a mom should be, therefore disappointing your future adult child by not affording him/her of the best childhood experience available. And we all do it! Do I work too much? Do I spend enough quality time with my child? Do I not spend enough time away from him? Do I have a stronger bond with one child over another? Do my kids watch too much TV? Do they spend too much time on electronic devices? Are they getting enough physical activity? Is he getting the best nutrition from his diet? Does my daughter have the basis for a good body image? Is my son learning how to treat women with respect? Do I savor these crazy moments that everyone tells me I will one day miss? So many questions…so few answers.
What complicates this story more is having a child with disabilities. There are thousands of other moms out there to compare how you should be being a mom when you have a neurotypical child, but who do you look to when you have a child with special needs? These moms are special people, because unfortunately for them, mom guilt gets amped up even higher! I am this child’s mom! What did I do to cause these problems my child now has to endure? How and what can I do to make this child’s life easier? How can I be frustrated with this child that needs extra help??
Moms, you are not alone!!!! We are all guilty of not cutting ourselves enough slack. The ironic thing is that there are moms who question every stage of their pregnancy, examining what they did wrong to perhaps cause their precious baby to struggle so, and then there are women who become pregnant and don’t receive prenatal care, stop drinking or using drugs, and they go on to deliver healthy, full term babies in the back of a taxi. Some things we just don’t have that much control over, and even when we do everything right, watch everything that goes into our mouths, take every prenatal vitamin prescribed, receive the best prenatal care, have a well-designed delivery plan…things still may not happen as we expect. Yet, we guilt ourselves that WE, the MOTHER, are responsible for things going off plan! Why do we do that to ourselves?
Our expectations of OURSELVES is astounding and disproportionate to what we are capable of doing and what we have control of. I write this not just for you moms out there with mom guilt but for myself as well, because I am just as much a victim of inflated expectations that no one should hold themselves to. Let’s ask ourselves this question when we get in our loop…what will happen if I don’t worry about this today or if this doesn’t get done? Will it negatively impact my child or our family if this doesn’t happen? How much extra value does this add to my child’s life or to my family’s life?
Because in the end, we all have fond memories and memories we wish to forget…those from our childhood and those from our parenting experiences! The truth of the matter is that our children will also have fond memories and memories they wish to forget. None of us is perfect, and being a mom is hard work! Let’s all take some of the pressure off ourselves and reduce the expectations…because, as I humbly admit, none of us will EVER be perfect. So let’s release the guilt, support each other as moms, recognize the fluff for what it is, and just do the best job we can of loving our sweet angels!
To all those moms out there that are trying to give their babies, both big and small, the best life there is, always remember YOU are one of your child’s most treasured gifts. Even with all your imperfections, you will always be their one and only MOM.