Mama Guilt. It’s not good for us, it doesn’t serve us, and we don’t have to take it anymore.
This is me. Last night. I took this picture at 8:30pm in the parking lot outside of work. My shift starts at 6:45pm. Why was I in a parking lot outside of work at 8:30pm last night? Because that’s how late I was. I forgot that I was scheduled to work. For some inexplicable reason … it was my husband’s birthday, my schedule got written down wrong, and I forgot to come in.
I just spent a full hour scrambling around like a lunatic … calling my friend to watch our kid indefinitely since I couldn’t reach my husband to tell him I forgot to go to work, calling/texting/sending Facebook messages to my husband to try and get him to pick up our kid, whenever he got home (yes it is a school night, for everyone involved). Apologizing to my charge nurse for leaving her without a nurse and thanking her for being patient with me while I got my crap together. Feeling GUILTY.
Early on in this motherhood gig, I thought this guilt feeling was mine alone. I spent the first year and a half of my daughter’s life feeling totally inadequate, and subsequently, awful.
When I came out of it, it kind of felt like I had cheated death. I truly felt … REBORN. All of a sudden I had a fire lit within me. It told me I had to spread the truth in order to help save others…. Mama guilt is a liar.
Every week, I help mothers bring their babies into the world. Even though they’ve never met their babies before, these mothers already have so many beliefs about themselves as mothers: Whether or not they’re ready. Whether or not they’re capable. Whether or not they’re good enough.
For the past year in my work as a postpartum doula, I’ve sat with so many mothers in their living rooms. I have watched them swaddle, nurse and gently rock their tiny, pink new babies. I’ve listened to their answer to my question: “How are you doing? No, how are you really doing?”
I’ve learned this secret wasn’t mine alone. My secret that as a mother, I sometimes feel not-good-enough. As a mother, I feel guilty because I can’t do more.
You know what? THAT GUILTY FEELING IS A LIAR.
Ok. So you don’t like making food animals out of nutritious organic fruits. Ok, so your baby gets supplemented with formula. Ok, so you made it to seven centimeters then you asked for an epidural. Ok, so you bring your kid to the grocery store wearing clicky-plastic princess shoes, or with her hair looking like a rat’s nest, or without pants. Ok, so your four-year-old still sleeps with you in your queen-sized bed. Ok, you dropped your kid off at daycare when she’s still on antibiotics for her ear infection and she cried and cried and cried (because YOU. HAVE. TO. WORK).
Mama Guilt is a F$&@ing liar when she tells you that you’re not enough.
So what does she want you to do, QUIT?
Does she want you to give your kid away to some other, mystical unicorn mother that never leaves the house without wearing a bra and magically purees vegetables into cookies so that your child never lacks her recommended 8-10 servings of fruit and vegetables a day?
Does she want you to quit your job (bonus points if you’re primary breadwinner!) so that you can spend 24 hours a day staring into your child’s eyes and synchronizing your breathing and sleep cycles in order to optimize your child’s growth and development?
Does she want you to drop all the other s$&@ you have to do today, like unclogging the toilet, or replacing the tires on the car, or paying all the bills associated with keeping the lights and heat on in this motherf***ing house to become certified in mindfulness for preschoolers, or to let your beautiful child free-range in a meadow of wildflowers for a couple of hours?
I took the picture of myself last night because I wanted to remember the following (for the next time I do something stupid and feel guilty. Not if, but when):
Guess what, it’s true … you’re not perfect.
You’re not going to win the prize for perfect attendance this year (have you ever won it?)
You feel guilty because there are (so many) people counting on you.
But why are people counting on you?
Because you are trust-worthy.
Because you usually show up to work when you are scheduled.
Because your baby knows you love her.
Because you made your husband feel special on his birthday, and you had such a good time that it never even occurred to you to go in to work.
Because you are the best wife, mom, employee, friend, coffee-drinker, burned-cookie baker, mac-n-cheese maker, bathtub soaker, Netflix watcher, lose-you-s$&@-and-freak-out that you DAMN well can be.
Your baby doesn’t need a perfect mystical unicorn mother.
She needs you.
All art by Erin Williams …. Color mommy guilt buh-bye with this awesome new coloring book by Erin Williams for Glam | Camp! It even comes with emoticon stickers … Sticker the crap out of that unwanted judgment!
Order one today (psst … Tucy is featured!)