Mom guilt, also known as hashtag #momguilt, is a thing. It`s the feeling moms (and dads too!) get when something happens to their child and they blame themselves, whether or not the blame is warranted. Considering the amount of stumbling one does during parenthood – period that starts the second you have your baby-, Mom Guilt can become an exhausting, consuming full-time job. Whether your baby is nursed or bottle-fed, whether he is demand- or scheduled-fed, whether he should sleep in the master bed or not, these all fire up discussions among new moms with, go figure, different opinions. Sadly, this guilt is often triggered because of mean comments of fellow moms. Because every mom is different. And because some of them think that their way of doing things is the only way. Why as women are we so aggressive to each other and what business is it of anyone`s how you e.g. feed your baby, as long as they are healthy? While breast may be the best for some of us, it may not even be an option for others. How fortunate for all of us that there are options. So.. Mom Guilt. And, like many things that I find both annoying and exhausting at the same time, I`m opting out completely.
I first caught wave of Mom Guilt in the second week after baby boy Sasha was born. We were on the sofa trying to have a conversation when, go figure, he fell asleep on some fluffy pillows I had assembled for his 5* comfort on our couch. Seeing he was in deep sleep I took advantage and hurried to the bathroom mirror to put myself together a bit after a long sleepless night. Not 30 seconds go by that I hear a crush and a terrible scream from the living room. That was the moment I felt paralised – utterly and powerlessly paralized. 5 seconds later I was there picking him up and frenetically checking him out on all sides, making sure he was whole, no wounds, no scratches, no blood, no bruises. I felt true guilt : I was responsible for leaving him unattended on dangerously-slippery surface and this action resulted in the physical discomfort of my son. Additionally, I saw firsthand just how defenseless he was: No ability to speak! No arms! Terrible vision! Not a clue in the world! On a whole new dimension so quickly! Suddenly, he was a plain human being feeling shock and pain, and not just an uber-cute alien sent from beyond to terrorise my breasts! I learned my lesson and since then never left him unattended anywhere he could fall off of. Then, I never looked back. Even today I don`t feel guilty about this EVENT.
Beware of falling kids and… failing MOMZIES!
Feeling truly, deeply guilty about a parenting oopsie is preposterous. While attempting to tighten the straps on his Uppababy stroller, I accidentally threw an uppacut and nailed Sasha right smack in the kisser. This boy’s poor face. Do I feel badly about that? Sure. Guilty? Nah.
#MomGuilt can also strike when moms are doing things that are selfish. And of course the term selfish varies widely. It goes from mommies doing stuff for themselves like taking yoga classes, going to the SPA or having frequent hairdos at home (not me) to going to the cinema on a Monday night (me). Of course, there are also moms that do technically selfish things like skipping pediatrician appointments, having a “casual” glass of red wine while breastfeeding or going to clubs.(some monsters) I`m in the category that postpones baby`s baths for watching Sex and the City and resorting to formula bottles just to have him sleep 5 hours in a raw (any mom will admit this is immoral but so so useful when you need piece and quiet and so help me God).
However, I have chosen not to feel guilty ever for the following things:
1. I had the luxury of choosing my partner and planning my pregnancy. We wanted it, we did it. No further questions, reasons or explanations. Where there is love there is life like some famous philosopher put it, got that momsters? Anyway, the nature of this situation means that my baby was brought into a world that was prepared, happy, and safe. This base keeps me from blaming myself for my human mistakes or occasional indulgences, because the bottom line is that things are ok. (Obviously I can’t control everything and sometimes things go bad, but can we please not think about that right now?)
2. Being selfish makes me a better mom. If I am healthy, my baby is healthy. If I am happy, he is happy. I want my son to see me at my healthiest and my happiest (at home and at work) so that he know he has the right to feel that way in life, too. No child would ever say “I want to be like my mom because she demand-fed me until I was 12!” While taking care of myself covers the practical stuff ( no texting and driving, no smoking and consistent exercise every day), it also includes the frivolous stuff like regular facials at the SPA.
3. I`m a normal person who makes healthy decisions and is just living my life. Please note that Mom Guilt can occur at any point in time not just during infant-baby-toddler couple of months. If College Sasha is reading this, oh well. I`m sure I can get on the first plane. Nevermind. I`m ok.