Motherhood is about sacrifice. Whether it’s sacrificing the tranquility of going to the bathroom alone or a hot cup of coffee every day, every mother has experienced sacrifice in one way or another.

Through these sacrifices, mothers are faced with a feeling of inadequacy. The guilt that accompanies motherhood is one that stays with all mothers and the various stages of their child’s life. They could feel guilt when they let their child sleep in their bed for the night or when they let their child watch TV for too long. No matter how it strikes, mom guilt affects all mothers at various points of motherhood.

What is mom guilt?

Mom guilt is the unwelcome feeling of not doing enough as a parent. It can also feel like you’re not doing enough as a mother or making decisions that have the potential to mentally harm your child. Mom guilt can sometimes come in temporary spurts or it can last for longer moments. Mom guilt typically feels like a massive weight on a mom’s shoulders. Some moms have even experienced a panicky feeling with mom guilt strikes. 

One form of mom guilt stems from working while also being a mother. There are some mothers (myself included) who feel like they are neglecting their child by going to work. Work is essential, but those guilty feelings make mothers feel horrible for working instead of being with their child. Working mothers feel guilty when they miss out on milestones or special events because of their jobs. Serena Williams is one mother who openly shared her experiences with mom guilt. Williams shared her feelings of insecurity and sadness when her daughter took her first steps while Williams was at practice. Williams also shared that her mom guilt got in the way of her feeling like she wasn’t a good mother.

“I work a lot, I train, and I’m trying to be the best athlete I can be. However, that means although I have been with [Olympia] every day of her life, I’m not around as much as I would like to be.

-Serena Williams

Another way mom guilt affects mothers is when discipline comes into play. There are many ways to approaching discipline. There are also many different opinions surrounding the best way to discipline. Many moms face backlash for their approaches to discipline and the various ways that they choose to set boundaries with their children. Mom guilt can rear its ugly head when moms are trying to discipline their children in an appropriate way only to have other moms or family members questioning their methods.

The pandemic and mom guilt

In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic spreading across the world, many schedules have changed. Mothers are now navigating working from home while juggling parenting and their children’s schooling. The pressures of maintaining balance and structure in an uncertain time have only added to the stresses of daily parenting. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamics of motherhood. School and work are now done at home, and life has been turned upside down. It is important to remember that all mothers are dealing with this uncertain time and to be patient with ourselves. The pandemic won’t last forever, but it will make mothers across the world stronger.

Ways to combat it

Motherhood is a fantastic experience, but it can also be filled with anxiety, stress, and chaos. Shame and fear should not control a mother’s experiences. Some ways to combat mom guilt when it strikes is acknowledging those guilty feelings.  It is important to understand that all mothers experience these feelings at some point in motherhood. It’s also important to remember you are not alone in feeling stressed. Changing your focus is another important tool in combating mom guilt. Instead of feeling guilty, try considering what you are contributing to your children and how that makes you a stronger person. Another way is letting go of the idea that every moment of motherhood is meant to be perfect. Motherhood is a fantastic moment in life, but it is far from perfect. Motherhood is messy, and that’s okay. 

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