Overcoming Mom Guilt

There is no such thing as a perfect mom.

Every mom has repeatedly wondered if they were doing enough as a mother and meeting society’s expectations of what a good mom should be. I would be lying if I said I didn’t often have feelings of “mom guilt” on an almost daily/weekly basis where I felt that I was falling short in some aspect.

Even before my son was born I had worrying thoughts of if I was properly prepared to bring this little one into the world and be his mother. Do I have all the “baby essential items” and am I doing enough research to know what to get? Are the antenatal vitamin supplements I’m taking the best ones for his brain development? Would I know how to properly breastfeed him? Did I choose the right diaper brand? Do I need a second baby monitor? Do I have enough swaddles?

These thoughts did not ease up when he was born… they intensified of course. Is he getting enough milk? Am I interacting with him enough for his social development? Am I a failure for needing to supplement his feeds with formula? Am I doing something wrong? Why can’t I produce enough milk to build up a storage of breast milk like other moms?

As my little one grew I realised I wasn’t meeting my own expectations of the mother I envisioned I would be. I previously thought I would be the kind of mother who would be able to take care of my son and keep the house tidy and spotless and be able to food prep with ease with a fridge full of already prepared nutritiously packed meals. But some days the house would be messier than normal and I had to learn it was ok to have a little mess with a infant who messed up rooms just as quickly as they were tidied.

I always thought I would be the mom who could make those cute kids meals that looked like cartoon characters and cute animals that were photo and instagram worthy. Ha! That didn’t happen. There was no way I could pull that off every single day. I also thought I would be the kind of mother that would be able to make fun little arts and crafts and do sensory time with my son everyday. Again, there was no way I could pull that off everyday as a working mom who often felt exhausted after a shift at work.

The morning of my first day back to work after baby

Being a working professional who worked on a shift system did not help my mom guilt one bit. The first few months after returning to work my heart felt torn to pieces having to be away from my son and having to miss his bedtime routines, his early morning smiles when he woke up, his first words and his first steps. Gosh it killed me that his babysitter was the one to do and experience all these things that I wanted to experience with my little one. I hated being away from my little one more and more and it resulted in more tears than I wish to admit.

I completely understood how some mothers quit their jobs to be a stay at home mom and be with their kids 24/7. A part of me thought why can’t I do that too? But then I remembered the kind of “busy-body” and academically driven kind of woman that I am and that I wouldn’t be happy and feel fulfilled with just being home. And that by itself made me feel guilty knowing that being a full time stay at home mom wasn’t satisfying enough for me.

Mom guilt was beginning to consume me. It was beginning to affect my daily mood and make me worry excessively. The tears were beginning to flow almost everyday without fail and some days it felt like it was for no reason at all. I began reaching out to other moms and soon
realised that I was not alone in how I felt at all. The feeling I was feeling was more common than I thought among other moms. I noticed that talking about it with others who understood how I was feeling helped a great deal. I soon realised that I was putting way too much pressure on myself as a mother.

It took many months for me to realise that my son didn’t need the “perfect mom”, he just needed a happy mom who did her best and loved him. There is no such thing as a perfect mom and I needed to get that out of my head. My son was well fed, taken care of, clothed, socialized with and loved dearly. Everything else was just a bonus.

The moment I let go of fighting to be this ever elusive “perfect mom” is the moment I actually became a better mom to my son because I was now the happy and less stressed out mom that my son really needed me to be.
The great lesson I learned the hard way and wish to share with you is to not let mom guilt consume you with the unrealistic expectations of this perfect mom that society feeds us. Stop comparing yourself to other mothers who seem to be a bit more well put together and seem to be excelling at this mothethood thing more than you. Your kid doesn’t need a perfect mom, they just need a happy one who tries their best and loves them.

You’re doing great Mama.