Where does mommy guilt come from?

Parenting. The most rewarding yet excruciatingly difficult task I’ve ever done. My children are a blessing. I was told at 20 that I probably wouldn’t be able to have kids. If I did, I would have a hard time getting pregnant. However, I got pregnant two months after I was married! It was a huge surprise. God is good and blessed us with a healthy baby boy, Aiden. A few years later we had Addison. She wasn’t as easy, but more about that a different time. I’ve been given the most important job in the world  – Mom.

I love my kids with every ounce of my soul. They are my life. I work full time but I do everything I can do be at field trips, school celebrations, football, basketball, baseball, dance…heck we even tried karate! But – I’m not superwoman. I can’t do it all. I have a career that I will not apologize for. I went to college and earned a degree to work. Yes, I would love to be a stay at home mom…but I can’t. For the past 8 years I have held onto guilt about so many things but being a working mom is the one I struggle with the most. My son has to ride the bus because I work. He hates the bus, but I can’t pick him up in time in the afternoons, so he rides – guilt. I have missed every school party for my daughter this year because of work – guilt. When I leave to meet a girlfriend for dinner – guilt. The time I didn’t even know about the 10oth day of school celebration and Addison was supposed to wear something with 100 items on it – guilt. When I get home from work and want to rest instead of play outside – guilt. Not having a five course dinner for my family every night – guilt.

Where does mommy guilt come from and why do I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect? Part of it is my own image of what being a Mom means and the unrealistic expectations I set for myself. Part of it is I feel guilty for being tired and stressed when God has blessed me with a family…all I ever wanted!! But some of my guilt comes from comparing what I do or don’t do to others. Where do I see this? Social media. Everyday I see moms and dads posting their best pictures. Their best pictures of the best parts of their best day and their fabulous trips and activities with their kids and pictures of moms at school parties and functions and then they post their best dinners or gourmet breakfasts or their 10 mile runs and….you get the point.

I like to post about my children and husband, too. I post adorable pictures for my friends and family to see. I want to share my great life, too. But do I think about who is on the other end of that phone, computer, or tablet? The mom on the other end who is struggling with her kids, husband or family? Or the woman who can’t have kids at all who sees my children plastered all over my page? Yes, they can unfollow me and I can unfollow those moms who drive me crazy with their posts but that just hides things. It is still there, just hidden from my view or until a different person posts about their perfect life.

I don’t think we can run from it. We all strive for perfection and want others to look at us and see how wonderful our life is. We don’t want our real struggles to show so we post pictures of our husband and kids and dog and dinner. Once I saw someone post the information about the new $450,000 house they were going to buy! And, surely,  you agree that pinterest adds to mommy guilt, too?? Now I have a place to store all the unnecessary ideas that ill never have time to accomplish!! Pinterest birthday parties are crazy! Our posts (and I’m to blame myself!) show everyone our picture perfect life.  But let’s call it what it is – fake. Other moms look at our best photos and think we don’t have the worst pictures to go with it! The worst pictures that show our kids fighting with each other. Kids that don’t listen (ever!) or boxed macaroni and cheese for supper. Or, how about pictures of that dreadful laundry that has piled up to the ceiling in the laundry room??  Or pictures of the floors that need to be mopped (because they haven’t been done since Christmas!) Or, a picture of that temper tantrum that the kids had this morning that caused World War III and now everyone is grounded from EVERYTHING for the rest of their lives!!! Or, dare I say, the fit I had this morning myself because I didn’t give myself enough time to get ready so I was impatient and fussed at my kids for no reason. Our posts don’t show the fights with our husbands or hurt feelings we experienced in our friendships. It doesn’t show the real life battles.

What it does show is highlights of a fairy tale world. The world we want everyone to see. I know how I feel when I see everyone’s best life thrown around on social media but I still post my best, too. I think if moms were honest with each other about how we really feel sometimes or how hard being a mom really is, then maybe we wouldn’t feel so guilty. If I knew that I was not alone with how I felt, maybe I’d  break free from some of my guilt. I have an awesome life with awesome kids and and an awesome husband, but I don’t need a million likes to prove it. Once I start believing that my life IS as awesome as I want it to be, maybe the mommy guilt from the unawesomeness  (is that a word?)  will go away.

I’m not saying that we should stop posting our pictures, but what I am saying is that we need to remember that we ALL have the worst photos to go with the best ones. I don’t want to contribute to another mom’s guilt and I don’t want to compare myself to others and feel like I’m failing, either. All I can do each day is try to be the best mom and wife I can and show my husband and kids the love they deserve with my actions…not with my posts. Today, share with your mom friends about some of your struggles. I bet they have some to share, too. Some days are better than others. All I can do is try. The guilt thing, I’m working on.

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