If there’s one thing you can say about moms, it’s that we are sure a guilt-ridden bunch.
If we stay home with our kids, we worry that they’ll think we didn’t accomplish anything with our lives. If we have to – or want to – work, we worry that we’re turning our children bad by letting someone else dole out their snacktime Goldfish. If we splurge on supermarket ice cream, we’re afraid Michael Pollan is going to jump out of the bushes on our way out to the car. If we splurge on organic produce, we’re guilty about the dent it’s making in our budget – and is it really better if it’s being flown in from South America?
I could go on. Take some “me time” with mom friends and we suddenly feel neglectful. Never take “me time,” and we feel like helicopter parents. Too permissive? Are you sure you’re not too much of an authoritarian? Will attachment parenting lead to needy kids? Is cloth diapering secretly grossing out your friends? Should you have been nicer? Or maybe meaner? Why did you blow your top like that, anyway?
Okay, now let’s not go on (even though I could). Because all this stuff and more has the power to make us, as moms, feel pretty bad about ourselves. There are a million zillion magazines and blog posts and TV shows whose advertisers pay big bucks to be a part of a fiction. The myth of the perfect mom. The rest of us, aka real actual moms, don’t live up and could never live up because what they’re feeding us is fake. And furthermore, designed to make us feel guilty.
Truth: Mom guilt makes us buy stuff. Advertisers and retailers love mom guilt. When we’re guilty, we’re not paying attention to what kids really need. What really matters.
Here’s the deal. Love, fun, nutritious food, books, and forgiveness go a long way. Unless you’re abusing your children (which we hope you are not) with smacks or mind games or otherwise instilling in them feelings of worthlessness, you can make a lot of day to day mistakes without ruining your sons and daughters. Whatever ruining even means.
Have you ever yelled like a banshee all morning because you were running late and kids just do not understand what it means to be on the clock? And then relaxed into joy that same night as little arms wrapped themselves around your neck for “just one more hug”? I have, so I know that’s it. Right there. That’s motherhood. Because moms, no matter what bull turds the media wants to feed you, are also people and people make mistakes. Luckily, children are remarkably forgiving. We could learn a lot from them.
So let that mom guilt go, before it gets in the way of something better. Like enjoying your family and building a beautiful life.