Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Not Guilty! Dealing with Mommy Guilt

When it comes to the issue of "Mommy Guilt" (or Daddy guilt.. or heck, just most random guilt in general...) I wish I could say that I was either

A. The mythological perfect mother who never has or does anything about which to feel guilty.
B. the equally mythological mother who always forgives herself. (I was going to put "mother who never feels guilt" and realized that pretty much would make her a psycho... hmmm)

In truth, I'm really good at feeling guilty. Over big stuff, over little stuff, over medium stuff, you name it, I can pretty much feel guilty about it. The trouble, I think, is not whether or not I feel guilty, but whether or not this guilt is productive. If guilt that I am not eating as well as I should while breast feeding compels me to make wiser choices, than it's probably not all bad. If, on the other hand, that same guilt drives me to a feeding frenzy of circus peanuts and soda, it's probably not so great.

Ironic though they may be, my "favorite" guilt trips (when I take a stop back) are those that are due to me finding some sort of middle ground. Really, these are areas where I'm probably doing things in a way that will make me most happy when looking back to reflect. Well, without further ado, because I love Top 11 lists so much, here are my current top 11 random Mommy Guilt Trips.

11. I'm not feeding my son all the recommended things to constitute a well balanced diet and expand his palate.

10. I'm trying to feed my son to wide a variety and quantity of foods and not focusing on letting him continue to respond to his body's natural ability by allowing him nurse and eat on cue/just until he is full.

9. I am not documenting and sharing my son's life as well as I could be with the far flung people who care about us.

8. I'm putting so much of his life online that he'll never be able to choose to go "Off the Grid" even if he wants to.

9. I don't even own a TV, tune out of most of the news, and don't subscribe to a newspaper, so my son may just have to be culturally illiterate.

8. How much screen time does a household with an iPhone, iPad, iMac, and MacBook get? Too much.

7. My son is going to get some horrible disease from French Kissing our dogs.

6. my son is not learning to interact in appropriate ways with the pets because they are forbidden to play together.

5. Dragging my son on "play dates" mostly for myself where I get my extrovert on and he has to be strapped into the ::in my best movie trailer voice:: Cursed Car Seat of Dooooooom! in a lonely back seat on the way there and back is just mean.

4. I am not getting my son enough opportunities to experience a multitude of adult and child interactions and learn appropriate behavior through hands-on situations.

3. I am trying to do too much "educational" stuff with my son rather than helping him enjoy life through open ended play.

2. I'm missing a critical opportunity for interaction when I just put him in the Jumperoo for 20 minutes so I can get online.

1. I worry to much. I worry too little. I try to do too much. I don't do enough...

Luckily, on of the best things my own amazing mother taught me to say (besides pronouncing abcadefkeejeckylmenoxerstuwitzes and Doshis Allee Expeditious Fragi Cali Rufus) is the all important phrase "I forgive me." See, turns out I'm really good at seeing past other people's mistakes and forgiving them, but forgiving me? Now that's where I have the issue. So, my take-away? Forgive and forget, remembering that over-all I'm doing a pretty ok job. What I can't let go, I'll let motivate me in positive ways.

About what things do you feel random guilt? How do you use your powers of guilt for good rather than evil? (Sorry, had a super-hero moment.)


  1. I love that almost every picture of the two of you looks like you're about to devour Jax.

  2. I don't even have Hadley outside my belly yet and I feel guilty about how I care for her.
    Am I harming her by not exercising? Am I exercising too much and going to bring my contractions back?
    Did I make a mistake when I got the flu shot??! I knew it was Class C, but it's also recommended, and I wouldn't get to see her in the NICU without it... Am I too selfish and dis I put her in danger because of that?
    Do I worry too much about preterm labor? Should I just ignore my worries and assume it's all perfectly fine?

    Yep... I worry... A LOT... and I feel guilty about all the things I worry about because... Well, if I can't take care of her right when I'm pregnant, how the heck am I going to be a good mommy when she arrives?

    ((hugs)) I get told that "It's the good moms that worry. You will start to wonder if someone is a decent mom if she DOESN'T worry about anything." I guess that makes me feel a little better sometimes. You're in my thoughts and prayers, and I'm sure Jax and Hadley will love us til the end despite our worrying tendencies :)

  3. Great post! It's so true that often we end up feeling guilty about opposite ends of the spectrum at different times (sometimes within the same five minutes). We live in a time when every few days a new study comes out telling us something else we should be doing or are doing wrong. It's hard to know sometimes how to filter all that in a constructive way. My MO so far is: read and research, talk to a lot of other moms, and then just do what works (which happens through a sometimes-alarming amount of trial and error). I will say the two main sources of guilt for me have been feeding and scheduling. (Breast feeding didn't work out, so now I'm pumping, which wasn't my ideal. Then came solids: What to feed and when? Too little? Too much? And then the scheduling: Am I being too structured? Not structured enough?) The good news is that so far, I've mostly been able to let go of the guilt and recognize that Corin has it pretty darn good. :)