That Lingering Eerie Feeling Of Mom Guilt

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Lissette Heinrichs

Let’s be honest with each other. I recently have met a group of extraordinary women that are all in different stages of their lives, most with children. They are from differing cultures and backgrounds. Some have paying jobs, and others are stay-at-home moms. Some are married, and some are not. I have realized that everyone has issues with these differences as we all try to show a brave face in public. I have found myself looking at other women and couples, and I ask myself, Are they, stay-at-home moms? Am I doing right for my children by working? My kids aren’t getting the same experiences as others. I wish I were home more. I cannot place my children in a private school like this family. My kids will not be as successful. Other mommies may be looking at me the same way and thinking about how I do things. We see other people and start to develop ideas on how your family should look and how things should be. However, this is not always the case. Everyone is different, and no matter what the situation is, everyone struggles with the same questions.  

This internal and sometimes external struggle is called Mom Guilt. This is a big one. It stems from the expectations that we place on ourselves. We see what we think are valuable things in other people’s lives, and we hold ourselves to it. So when we cannot accomplish the mere image of perfection as parents, feelings of guilt set in, which can be incredibly overwhelming. By the way, Dad can feel this kind of guilt too! This guilt can be defined as that feeling you get when you think you are not doing enough as a parent for your children. When you think about every decision you make will impact your child’s life, good or bad. This feeling can be crippling and take you away from enjoying your children. 

Lissette HeinrichsSome of the topics that surround this Mom guilt start right from the beginning:
  • Vaginal Delivery vs. Cesarean
  • Epidural vs. Non-Medicated Birth
  • Circumcision Vs. Non
  • Vaccinations vs. Non-Vaccinated
  • Breastfeeding vs. Formula Fed

The best way to feed your child is to nourish your child. There are societal standards that look down upon both of these options without considering the circumstances, and parent often feels guilty about going one way or another.

Working Mom Vs. Stay-at-home Mom

Working moms question whether or not they are missing out on their children’s lives and if their sacrifice is worth it. By them working, they have other individuals “raising their children” or have to place them in day-care. Stay-at-home moms grapple with the thoughts that they are not contributing monetarily to their household or can’t do enough. Being a housewife is a 24 hour per day job. Dads may feel guilt because they do not make enough money to support the household and need a second income. Dad may also feel they are missing out on their children’s lives.

Prioritizing self vs. Children

We have to take care of ourselves! When we start to feel guilty about taking little time for ourselves because our children need something, this is a problem. Guess what? If there is one thing I have learned about being a working mom of four, the kids need something 24 hours a day! I believe I read somewhere that each child can ask about 100 questions per day. In my household, that equals about 400 requests per day. We need to have daily time for ourselves and not feel guilty. This is the one I struggle with the most. I neglect all of my doctor’s appointments, but I will never miss one for my children. Does this sound like you? We are always here for our children, and they know it, but we won’t be here as long for them if we don’t take care of ourselves.  

Feeding Junk Food vs. Nutritious

Most of us don’t feed our children junk food every day for every meal. Once in a while, it’s okay not to cook a full 7-course meal with veggies, organic grilled meats to perfection, and desserts. Our children will grow. Just think, most of us mommies now used to eat Hungry Man TV dinners and Kool-Aids back in the day. (YUCK) So, be kind to yourself. A little junk once in a while won’t kill them.

As humans, we hold each other to incredible standards that sometimes seem unobtainable. We hold ourselves to what we think is perfect when we see outsiders. The truth is that no one is perfect, and we all have to make decisions daily that may give us a little bit of Mom Guilt. When this happens, you have to think that none of these things should hold importance to the love you have for your children. 

Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself that can help manage the guilt:
  1. Do some soul searching. What values or things are important to you and your family?
  2. What are your goals for yourself and your children?
  3. Are you trying to do something simply because you feel that others will look poorly on you?
  4. Are your expectations too high?

Answering these questions can help you understand that there is a very important reason you choose the life you have. Once you know the whys, you can be confident in your decisions, eliminating the guilt. Be honest with yourself and cut yourself some slack. Understand that no one is perfect, even if all the pictures show it on social media. We have to wake up each day and say, “I am doing the best I can for my children. My best is enough for them. I do not have to be perfect every day, and I shouldn’t feel guilty. As long as we instill good values and habits in our children, everything can be accomplished. They will grow, learn, and succeed because I am their mom, and I am amazing.”

Remember it’s okay to trust your own instincts mom!

So what if she had ice cream before dinner? Listen mom; everyone will always have something to say about raising children. But what you want to remember is that #momlife is never easy breezy. I am sure you have suffered from #momguilt, and it’s not fun. I hope you love these tips that I shared above. I take these steps to overcome this daily. Every mother’s journey is different as we search for a way to be the best we can be and show up for our daughter Charlie. She was just named the Take Steps Hero for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. She is 7 and was diagnosed with Crohn’s about a year and a half ago. We are trying to raise money to help find a cure. Our goal is 5000 dollars, and we are a little over 4000. Please help us reach our goal by donating to The Take Steps Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation to help!

Also, if you can’t donate, you can join us at our walk on April 23rd at 10 am at Nova Southeastern University. I would love to meet you and have your support- this foundation is so important to my family and I. We truly are grateful for the power of community and our #sisterhood during these times.

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Lizzy is a wife, a mother of four girls, a pediatric gastroenterology nurse, and a student pursuing her Masters for Family Nurse Practitioner. There is nothing she can't do once she puts her mind to it. Her number one priority is her family, and the love for them is what brings her joy every day. She loves watching her children grow and the excitement in their faces as they discover new things. She is a foodie and loves exploring new places and the newest restaurants. You can find her singing and making music with the girls. Lizzy has a deep desire to help other moms realize that we are all in this together; she believes it really does take a village.

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