My friend Jessica recently wrote parenting things she refuses to feel guilty about and it really got me thinking about all guilt we experience as moms.
Mom guilt is a son-of-a.
It begins to plague you as soon as you figure out your pregnant. I drank too much wine last weekend. I ate my weight in sushi yesterday. I’m the worst mom already.
No matter what you do or what decisions you make it seems every move is associated with some kind of self-imposed guilt. There’s also a whole lot of judgement from the rest of the world (but that’s a post for another day) but the worst is the pressure and subsequent guilt we put on ourselves.
Whether you do or don’t ANYthing, there’s guilt. How and what you feed, what kind of diapers you use, whether you work or not, what kind of discipline you practice. It all leads to guilt. Guilt, guilt and more guilt. It’s exhausting and ridiculous.
As a mom, I am in a constant state of self-doubt “am I doing this right” “is this okay” “is this the best way” “I shouldn’t have done that” “I could be better at this”… I could go on and on and on. I am much harder on myself than anyone else is and it seems I can never quite attain the mile-high expecations I have for myself. What does this mean? GUILT.
It’s consumed me for far too long and thankfully I have finally figured out a cure-all. Okay, I may be exaggerating, but I have figured out something that helps lessen my mom-guilt significantly.
What’s my trick? How do I talk myself out of feeling guilty for any and every little thing?
I take myself right out of the equation.
After giving advice to a fellow self-doubting, guilt-ridden mom, I realized how much I related to her plight and how I was readily able to give her genuinely kind advice and encouragement.
Why the heck couldn’t I talk to myself that way?
Most of us, the nice ones anyway, would never talk to another mom the way we talk internally to ourselves.
Here’s an example of how we talk to ourselves vs. other mommas:
What the what?!
It’s true but so very wrong.
We are downright mean to ourselves.
The best way to deal with mom-guilt or negative mom self-talk is by pretending you’re talking to another mom.
Seriously, it works every time (unless you’re judgy McGee to other mommas and in that case you may just deserve some of your own negativity… just sayin’).
The key to being gentler on our mom-selves is truly allowing ourselves to begin changing our self-talk to resemble the mom-talk we’d give to another mom.
Beginning this process won’t instantly take away the guilt but it WILL get you thinking about it in a different way. It begins an internal conversation about whether or not you’re being unfair to yourself. That conversation that hasn’t been happening (at least myself) up until this point. A conversation that was desperately needed.
What I’m starting to discover is that some of my thoughts absolutely need to be challenged because I am not being kind enough to myself. If another woman spoke to me the way I spoke to myself, I’d have some very unkind words back to her. So why is it okay to talk to ourselves this way? It’s not.
I recently wrote about needing a sister-wife and while I was half-joking, I suspect another aspect of this potential relationship would be that we would be constantly lifting each other up. Repeatedly validating each other and giving positive affirmations. The result of that would be happier moms. Moms with higher self-worth.
While the sister-wife thing is unlikely, we, as women and mothers, need to continue and strive to be kind to each other but we also need to start encouraging each other to show ourselves kindness and love as well.
So I offer this challenge to my fellow moms:
Next time you’re feeling guilty or experiencing self-doubt take a second and really think about how you would respond to a good friend having the same issue or thoughts. Think about what support you would offer, what information or words of encouragement you might have. This process will hopefully begin your own realization that you’re no different that your friends and fellow mombies and that you too deserve all the kindness you would so readily offer them.
YOU, awesome momma, are worth it.