F*ck Mom Guilt

by Penelope Hatter, LMFT

F*CK MOM GUILT! I like to describe mom guilt as guilt on steroids. A guilt only moms feel and a guilt that is rooted deep in societal expectations, comparisons, and generational traumas. Mom guilt is a guilt so strong it often talks moms out of following a career of their dreams, engaging in self-care, letting their babies “cry it out” during sleep training, and so on. Mom guilt can feel like it is in the driver’s seat of day-to-day decisions causing a level of burn out that is so deep it feels impossible to come out of. Societal pressure sends women mixed messages that often leads to a spiral in negative thinking about “not being good enough.” A lot of times this can even start while building the baby registry and preparing your home for a new bundle of joy. There are numerous “must have” products out there that the “best” moms have and it can start to make some moms question if they are good enough because they don’t have that $700 Uppa Baby Stroller ready to roll. Some moms may not have their “perfect” nursery set up for their baby’s arrival and question if they are as good of a mom as their friend who has everything perfectly in place in the brightest nursery ever. Comparisons to other moms is a nasty contributor to mom guilt. We often compare ourselves, what we have, and how we parent to other moms and it usually doesn’t end well. We question daily if we are doing what is best for our kids and over think every decision. We try our hardest not to “screw up” our kids and over think punishment styles, criticize ourselves for losing patience, and get lost in intrusive racing thoughts and anxiety. What does society say about being a mom? Well, that also can send us spiraling into mom guilt. Do I work full time? Stay home full time? Part time? There is no easy answer and mom guilt can seem even heavier when we leave our little ones to work OR we wish we were working because we are losing our minds staying home full time. And what about self-care? Why does it seem impossible to have a guilt free day away from home and kids to focus on yourself? Mom guilt. We struggle to take time for ourselves because everything around us and in us says we need to be there for our kids ALL. THE. TIME. How many of you found yourself enjoying coffee with a friend and the hour mark hits and you start to feel anxious and feel the urge to return home to your kid or kids? I bet most of you can relate to that. It takes a lot of internal work to recognize self-care and finding who you are outside of being a mom is okay. Once we become moms, it can be easy to lose who we were before becoming a mom. Being a mom can take over our identity if we let it. I am here to help you give yourself permission to put yourself first at times, reconnect with yourself as an individual, practice self-care, and believe you are good enough as a mom. There is a new movie out that I am sure you’ve heard of…Barbie. In this movie the speech from America Ferrera’s character paints a picture of just how difficult it is to be not only a mom in society, but a woman as well. “It is literally impossible to be a woman. You are so beautiful, and so smart, and it kills me that you don’t think you’re good enough. Like, we have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we’re always doing it wrong. You have to be thin, but not too thin. And you can never say you want to be thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to have money, but you can’t ask for money because that’s crass. You have to be a boss, but you can’t be mean. You have to lead, but you can’t squash other people’s ideas. You’re supposed to love being a mother, but don’t talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman, but also always be looking out for other people. You have to answer for men’s bad behavior, which is insane, but if you point that out, you’re accused of complaining. You’re supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or that you threaten other women because you’re supposed to be a part of the sisterhood. But always stand out and always be grateful. But never forget that the system is rigged. So find a way to acknowledge that but also always be grateful. You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It’s too hard! It’s too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you! And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault. I’m just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us. And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing women, then I don’t even know.”- Barbie, 2023 With this type of societal pressure and expectations, how can we find happiness, peace, joy, and acceptance that we are enough? It’s important to be aware of these irrational thoughts and comparisons we engage in. Setting boundaries with social media and friends and family members who trigger these thoughts is a great place to start. Yes, social media can be a great way to keep up with others, but it is the primary setting where comparisons happen. While friends and family usually have good intentions, sometimes we need to take breaks or boundaries while we work on getting strong internally to combat these irrational thoughts that we are not good enough. Affirmations are another great place to start in challenging negative self-talk and beliefs about not being good enough. When I say affirmations, I don’t mean saying, “you’re awesome!” in the mirror. I mean saying something to yourself you connect with and can believe. An example can be, “I give myself permission to engage in self-care in order to be the best mom I can be today.” Or “I am learning to accept myself.” I think it is important to give ourselves self-compassion and self-acceptance in our affirmations and we need to make it something we can believe, even if we only believe it 2%. Using supports is also another great way to combat these beliefs. Be open, be vulnerable to those in your circle. I guarantee you are not the only one feeling this way and it is powerful to connect with others feeling the same way. And of course, don’t forget about therapy! Therapy is a safe place for you to BE YOU. In that room, you don’t have to be a mom, wife, employee, daughter, sister, etc. You just get to be you in a safe and judgement free space. Space for you to have your own person to word vomit to about all the nonsense we experience in society as women.  Reach out to schedule a session and begin the therapy process today.  Penelope can be reached by email at Penelope@lovestorytherapy.com or on the website.