Mother’s Guilt

It’s real. It’s one thing that we all experience. No matter if we are a young mom, a single mom, an older mom, a happily married mom, a divorced mom, a crazy mom, a boring mom, a sahm or a working mom. No mom is immune to it.

I just recently had a discussion with someone in an online forum about mother’s guilt. She put a post out there talking about her working 2 days a week and considering turning her back on the job and become a sahm. As you can guess she mentioned that she feels incredibly guilty even only thinking about it. But she also mentioned how guilty she feels to not be with her kids while being at work. I don’t always read through comments on Facebook but as this truly struck a cord with me and I also felt curious to see what others would say I started reading. I was expecting to find some of the good old trolls responses too but to my surprise there was none. In hundreds of comments not a single troll comment. No judging, no “I know better”. There was just sharing.

While it’s probably not one of the clearly hot iron topics and therefor doesn’t really attract as many trolls as other things would, I still found myself sitting there surprised. The more I thought about it the clearer it was. Motherhood is basically one huge guilt trip.

There were the sahms commenting about how guilty they feel for not going to work and not helping their husbands to provide for their families. Or feeling guilty for not being role models to their kids by showing them that women too can have careers. There were the new moms feeling guilty for feeling so overwhelmed with all the new situations. For not being able to get their kids to finally have a sleeping pattern. There were the moms feeling guilty for freeing up some me time by having the grandparents look after the kids. Or the ones who always look after their kids and feeling guilty for not including the grandparents.

There were the working moms feeling guilty for going out there and work their full time jobs, their career and leaving their kids in someone else’s care. There were the working moms feeling guilty for working only part time and not providing enough but also for working part time and leaving their kids. There were the sahms feeling guilty for having left their careers for being there for the kids.

The list could go on and on. It was crazy to read and I was waiting for that one comment of someone saying: I’m totally fine with my decision because it is what works best for my family and what I enjoy the most. But there was none of that kind. The crazy thing was that it almost seemed that in the end everyone also felt guilty for feeling guilty.

Why is it? Why do we feel so guilty? And I wonder: Do our husbands feel the same way? Or do they just do their thing, do what feels is right and accept it? Are we overthinking things? After all it’s pretty simple, at least on paper: Whatever we decide doing needs to feel right for us. And then we should not feel guilty about it.

I started to write this post 2 days ago. Usually posts don’t take as long to be done. I sit down, I write and it’s out. This one though triggers so many thoughts. I sit here, thinking about why everyone feels guilty and how it’s possible that I hear myself so often in their comments. I sit here wondering how I can feel that guilt too while my life, the life my family lives feels so right to me. And yet there are the questions: Am I doing enough? Should I rather play with them or take them somewhere instead of sitting here and typing this? But while I’m out with the kids I know there are is laundry to be done, the house to be cleaned, some work do be taken care of, forms to be filled out and sent in and so on. When I’m out with them I feel guilty for not heading to a dog area and taking them along. When I do take the dogs along I feel guilty because maybe the kids would have enjoyed a different place much better. When I do the laundry, clean the house, take care of the forms, the work and so on, I again feel guilty because it’s time that is not spent with the kids.

You just can’t win, right?

It might come with age one day, with maturity that we so hope we will one day reach. But maybe one day we will look back at all of this, all our actually ridiculous guilt trips and wonder why we did this to ourselves rather than just live the moment. Live the moment, enjoy what we are doing and why we are doing it at this specific time and just go with it. Maybe one day we will see that living in that moment without overthinking it and then going from there and changing the situation when it doesn’t suit us anymore is the way to go. While I’m writing this I’m still wondering if it will be possible to be completely guilt free even then.

I like to end my posts with wrapping it all up but today I simply can’t. I don’t feel there is a solution to present. There is no right and wrong. No way to get around the guilt. It’s just what being a mother is like. One of the many things we take on when becoming a mom. Do we ever get on top of it? Not sure… I guess only time will tell 😉

26 thoughts on “Mother’s Guilt

  1. Oh well, I think the more serious motherhood (or anything) we take the more we will question if what we do is good enough. There were times I wish I could change how I behaved because I felt overwhelmed but I can’t. But I tried to make it better and I think I did a good job in that. We are not perfect, we are only human, and we can only do the best we can in each moment and learn from what we recognize as not so good.

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  2. This dad feels the guilt, yes. Sometimes you feel as though you’re paying people to raise your kids when both work. That’s in large part why we make a point of traveling and spending large chunks of time together. We also make a point of being acutely involved in their life, academically, socially, and extracurricularly. We’re all busy, but we stay active in everything they do…somehow. It’s vital, I think.

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  3. I worked from 14 to 32. So when the first baby arrived, I was so ready to be at home. Not a bit of guilt.I didn’t go back to full time work until the first one was about to graduate high school. Then, I started a new career, and appreciated it even more than the early ones. I made sure they knew that I was home by choice, and that I loved it, and all the time I spent absorbed in their young lives. If I had to do it all over again, I’d do exactly the same.

    You are so right, there are no easy answers to the guilt thing. Just be sure that you are being true to yourself, honest with your family, and enjoying the choices you make. What other people think of those choices, really does not matter.
    Live your life.

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  4. I’m the weird one out. When I was married to my first husband, I was a SAHM but I didn’t feel guilty about it because that’s what we decided to do, and that’s what I did. After my divorce, I became a single mother and I worked. I didn’t feel guilty about it because hey, no one was going to work for me, and I did the best I could with what I had. No guilt, no shame. I did what I had to do in the situation I was in at the time. I can’t speak to other people’s guilt because I never felt it. My kids are grown and out of the house, and I did the best I could do by them, for better or worse.

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  5. Pingback: Sunday Share: Week 43 | All In A Dad's Work

  6. I went back to work when my youngest was about 13 years old. I don’t remember feeling guilty, because it seemed the right thing to do. Perhaps age has erased the guilt. Retirement is marvelous, so hang in there!

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  7. I have been reading so much about the pressure put on “super-Moms” and the guilt they face. It is important to ease on the demi-God status placed on Moms – especially new Moms – that are still figuring this out. Every Mom is unique, and that is special in itself.

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    • I think we grow up watching our moms and think they are super women. And then we become moms and feel so totally helpless because there is no manual. And we put pressure on ourselves because we think our moms were so on top of things and forget that they had the same struggles as we do too…


  8. I don’t feel guilty for working, or going out, or having some me time, because if I don’t take care of me and my needs, there is no way I can take care of them. I think the only way for me to remove some guilt is to know that I try my best. I truly believe that.

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  9. I think the guilt has gotten worse with social media, you see people who 3 hours after giving birth, have dropped all the baby weight, gone back to work and posting amazing images of themselves, rather than what it was like for me, which was covered is some sort of baby goop, barely time for a shower and my son was an easy baby, so God knwos what I would of been like if he was difficult.

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  10. Maybe it is because motherhood, fatherhood, and parenting are so important that we feel guilty—or anxious, in my case? We know how our parents’ mistakes, even their well-meant ones, affected us, and we want to get it right; but we aren’t perfect, and we Dumbledore has it right about the importance of love. Forgiveness (and forgiving ourselves) is important, too.

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