It’s back to school time. Parents far and wide are sending their children to all-day programs, many for the first time. Including me.
Starting school – and not just kindergarten, but any all-day program – is a demarcation line of sorts. All the care you’ve figured out for your child around the clock since birth changes at this moment. When you drop them off at the door, you’re effectively passing the torch to the next caretaker. The next person who will look after your little one for the bulk of daylight hours.
As I’ve talked with girlfriends who are crossing that same line, Mom Guilt keeps cropping up. Okay, a few tears do too, but mostly guilt.
Did I do enough? Was I too hard? Have I taught them enough? I wish I would have done… The list goes on and on.
It’s brought me to one conclusion: No matter your approach to raising your kids. Whether you work outside of the home, in the home, or a combination of both, Mom Guilt will exist. Period.
The way I see it is Mom Guilt is a given. Do you have it? Then it confirms you’re a mom. And That’s. It.
In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear”, she talks about fear as being part of you. It’ll be around for as long as you’re living. Rather than attempting to squelch it, embrace it as a given and then take charge.
Gilbert uses a road trip analogy to describe how to put fear in its place. Firstly, it’s welcome to come along for the ride (because it’s going to anyway). So give it a seat – preferably the backseat – but whatever you do, Do Not Allow It To Drive!!! Absolutely not. It’s not allowed to have any affect whatsoever on the steering wheel, including handling navigation.
In my own mind, I liken Mom Guilt to fear (because they’re in the same family). So let’s treat it the same as fear.
Applying Gilbert’s sentiments, don’t let Mom Guilt determine whether you leave your job or your friends early to get home to the babes. Neither decision will determine how “good” of a mom you are.
Don’t listen to Mom Guilt’s suggestion of passing on a sitter because, “I’m fine.” (Note: If you are using those words to anyone, including your partner, you are more than likely not fine. Get a sitter.)
Don’t be suckered by Mom Guilt’s insistence that you fill your calendar with every kid-related function, party, and trip under the sun, because heaven forbid the chitlins be (gasp!) bored. They’ll be fine. And I actually mean fine.
Making decisions based on Mom Guilt is the equivalent of letting it take the steering wheel. Sisters, let’s not allow that any more.
Here’s how I’ve stared handling Mom guilt:
Oh hey Mom Guilt. I recognize your judgy slander and laundry basket full of “shoulds”. How’s it going girlfriend? Hey, so here’s what I’m gonna need you to do. Put down the basket, and take a seat. Just right there will do. Good! Now criss-cross-applesauce, hands in your lap, and bubble on your mouth. Great!
Notice how that entire conversation is one-sided. I’m not interested in its over-thinking back talk, because guess what, Mom Guilt is impossible to please! No matter what you should have done differenlty in the past, Mom Guilt would still be there, arms crossed, shaking its head, telling you exactly when and where and how you messed up.
You can’t please Mom Guilt. And much like the children it’s convinced you’re ruining, it will always have a comeback.
Instead, acknowledge it – Oh hey Mom Guilt – and move on. Cause you’re a mom. And you have way more things to do than worry about its lint-covered shoulds. Like wrangle kids to bed for another school day.