Six to 12 weeks after giving birth, you go back to work. Your toddler watched 45 minutes of television so that you could cook dinner or do laundry. Your plan to exclusively breastfeed, for the first six months, was derailed by painfully enlarged breasts and cracking nipples.
Herein lies the infamous mommy guilt.
I heard of this self-reproach long before I became a mother. I often thought, “How could a woman feel any guilt for raising her child?” and “How could any woman feel guilty for doing the very best for her children?” Seemed like nonsense at the time, but of course, I would succumb to this all too common mindset once I entered motherhood.
Known as The Mom Strategist™, entrepreneur, lifestyle brand and best-selling author Mia Redrick wrote an article for The Huffington Post about this very topic. She provided some of her personal rules on how to silence mother’s guilt, and I’ve included a few of those, as well as how I applied such lessons to my own situation, below.
Know you’re not perfect
“Get real. Understand that perfection and parenting is ridiculous.” Redrick wrote. “Accept that you will make mistakes and be honest with your children when you drop the ball.”
It took me a while to understand this as I always had high expectations for myself. In the beginning, I would have an idea of how my day would go, including work and items that I wanted to accomplish with my infant daughter. In order to avoid getting down on myself, I eventually gave up being perfect and remember even saying to myself, “Oh, well, I guess I failed at parenting today.” I wasn’t upset or depressed when I said it, but rather, I was honest with myself about how imperfect I was, as I am human, and I was okay with that.
“Focus on the positive things that you are doing. Instead of looking at what isn’t working with your parenting, ask yourself, ‘What am I doing right?’” She wrote.
It got to a point where I recognized that my child was alive, healthy and didn’t have major scratches on her at the end of the day. And I was happy. I’ve also learned to celebrate the small wins and enjoy the moment. Moments where my child surprises me by saying or doing something that I didn’t know she had learned.
Do not judge
Redrick wrote that mothers should stop judging themselves. “Stop comparing your best to other classroom moms, working parents and neighborhood families. Live out your own story and stop attempting to star in someone else’s drama.”
I admit that it’s really hard to not compare yourself to other mothers. It’s easy to look at other children and think, “What do I need to do differently?” But you never know someone else’s story, the help they have or their overall situation. By focusing on other people and their children, my attention was lost on what I was trying to achieve. After all, others will judge you, so why do that to yourself?
Motherhood is hard, and of course, there’s no handbook on the “right” way to go about it. Instead of worrying about what you might have done wrong, enjoy each moment with your little one as the time passes quickly.