Mommy guilt is absolute. I feel it, you feel it. It seems that no matter how hard we try to be the best mothers that we can be, it sticks to all of us. A year after I gave birth to Saehee, I went back to school studying another major. I was away for a couple of hours each weekday and sometimes even on Saturdays ’cause we had classes; I was in school all right, but my heart and my mind are back home, with my baby bear. When I got home from school, I would spend all the time that I have being beside her, leaving my school stuff for granted for the most part. Then, there would be days that I wouldn’t go to school at all! Geeeezzzz louise!
Being a hands-on mom was my goal since I knew that I was pregnant and it disappointed me when I had to be away and miss some more of her milestones. I’d come home and my mom would report to me something that Saehee did that was delightful; and secretly I felt jealous and it crushed me inside. Why didn’t I witness that?? This mom guilt drove me to a decision that I don’t want to be employed— I want to have the time freedom and subsequently reach financial freedom, as well. I mean, yeah, I never really liked being employed to start with because it bored me to follow company rules, follow the boss, being stuck in an office 9-5. Mom guilt heightened that eagerness to shy away from employment.
Though mom guilt gave me a bit of positive outcome (at least for me), it’s generally not a good feeling. Unchecked guilt can even be dangerous, leading to unhealthy behaviors and depression.
Understand that parenting and perfection is ridiculous. Get real. No one and nothing is perfect. Know that you’ll make mistakes and just be honest with your kids when that happens. They’re smarter than you think; and as I always do with Saehee, I make a quick remedy by forgiving myself first then give her a loving hug and butterfly kisses.
Stop judging yourself. Stop comparing yourself with Mom X Y Z. Your story is different from theirs and the beautiful thing about living this life is that we get to co-create it. Write your own story and stop attempting to star in someone else’s. Which will lead me to…
Avoid the bragging game. This one I might say is one of the hardest habits of parents to abolish. I mean of course, it’s our kid! I don’t know of any parent who isn’t proud of their children. Resist the urge to engage in such because comparison leads to feeling inadequate and guilt. The next time a mom attempts to compare how long you breastfed, how early the kids start walking or talking, politely change the topic. Remember, you and your child are unique— embrace the parent that you are and the child that you have.
Surround yourself with supportive people. And stay away from those who don’t or judge you. This is one of the reasons why I created Ilongga Mommies’ Nook, five months on motherhood— this is an online support group for Ilongga moms around the world. The thrust is to share information about motherhood, parenting and just about anything under the sun; and yes, being each other’s virtual support.
Laugh and don’t sweat the small stuff. Learn to laugh at your shortcomings and don’t sweat the small stuff. Breathe in, breathe out. Tomorrow is a new day!
And when faced with a disappointing fact that you are not capable of providing your children with everything that you want for them, remember that no child that grew up with love in their home ever felt wanting.