Let’s talk about mom guilt

Guilt - I am assuming all of us moms we have all felt it at some point. Some moms feel it more than others. But I am sure - if you are a mom - you know what I am talking about.

This creepy feeling that is in your stomach and in the back of your head and sometimes brings tears into your eyes. This feeling you should do something that you don’t want to do. Or that you actually want to do but you can’t right now. The feeling of not doing the right thing. This feeling of not knowing what is right. The feeling of being torn in two directions, by others, by our kids but also by ourselves. The feeling of not knowing what to change or how to change it. The feeling of helplessness. This feeling of not being enough. The feeling of not having enough time.

Mom guilt - how to get rid of it | Emilia Ohrtmann

We can feel guilty for something we have done, for something we didn’t do, for something we think or for something we did not think about.

Mom guilt comes to all of us, working moms, stay at home moms, moms who have their own business, single moms, married moms, moms with one child and moms with multiple children.

I certainly have it a lot. Sometimes I manage it better, sometimes not so well. Overall I am getting better at it every day.

If you are a working mom you might feel guilty that you don’t spend so much time with your child.
Stay at home moms might feel guilty that they don’t earn money.
But we all have felt this need to be perfect at some point, to be present everywhere, to do all these great things with our kids, to do the best birthday cakes and parties and and and - the list goes on.

Moms of one child feel guilty that the child is growing up without siblings. Moms of multiple children feel guilty that they don’t spend enough time with each child individually.

There is this guilt if you don’t do something for or with your own child when everyone else seems to be doing all of it - and more - and their lives seem perfect.

My feeling of mom guilt

Being self employed and wanting to be there for my kids more often was one of the reasons I started my own business. And now, many times I have felt totally guilty when that doesn’t work out. When I have to work in the afternoons.

I’ve also felt guilty when I am working and not enough money is coming in. After all we have help at home and my husband is supporting all of this so that I can work - and earn money.

I’ve felt guilty when I can not (or don’t want to) come to school for a reading class or a celebration.

I’ve felt guilty when I am not dropping my daughter to school but my husband does so that I can go for a run and she screams as she wants me. I feel guilty not only for my daughter but also for my husband. I feel guilty that I am so selfish of wanting to go for a run.

I try and tuck my kids to bed every night. There is the occasional day where I don’t and, you guessed it, although they have me all the time, I still feel guilty. They are with their dad and I still feel guilty, just because...

I forget my son’s homework at home and I feel guilty.

I forget to send money for the bake sale at school and feel guilty.

I have to ask someone else to take my son to a football match or to hockey practice and I feel guilty, for my kids that I am not there and for the other mom who seems to be helping me all the time.

I don’t have time to make our weekend morning pancakes, the kids are disappointed, and I feel guilty.

The other day my son fell of his bike while cycling alone to tennis lessons and apparently it was quite a bad crash. Luckily one of my friends saw it and helped him. And oh, I felt so guilty (or sorry?) that I was not there.

And a big one of course: I lose my temper with my innocent kids because there is so much going on, or because I am tired or just because I am human and - feel sooo guilty.

I am not as patient with them as I ‘should’ or want to be and I feel guilty. Why I am taking so much on that I can’t stay calm with my kids? Why did I even have so many kids and now I lose my temper and snap at them?

These are just some of the times I have felt guilty towards my kids, there are so many more examples. I am sure you can relate with one or the other. I don’t feel guilty all the time for these things and I have learned that all these things are part of being a human being. I have learned to flip it around and see the positive side rather than the negative. But for sure I have felt all of this guilt at some point.

You might think now, oh she is not raising her kids to be independent if she feels guilty that her son forgets his homework. No, I am raising my kids to be independent, or I am trying my best. But I still feel guilty. Even if he doesn’t care that much.

Mom guilt towards other people

And then there is the guilt towards my husband. The guilt that I am not spending enough time with him. I am working too much, there is always a child who comes first. The guilt that I snap at him when I feel he doesn’t help enough or when I am just tired or for no reason at all.

And if we do something together, just the two of us, something out of the norm, like spending a rare morning or day away, the guilt is there again. This time towards the kids again, that I am not there, or towards the nanny that she has to handle everything alone. I know the kids don’t even mind that we are gone and the nanny is super efficient and able to handle everything perfectly. But the guilt is still there.

Oh and I forgot the guilt that I also sometimes have - or had - the guilt of wanting four kids….. My husband was happy with two and here I was always asking for four. He is a great dad to all of them and a great support for me but still, whenever we have to pay a fortune for six seats on a plane or when there is another crazy, packed and loud weekend instead of a quiet restful day, or when I ask for his help because I just can’t support with homework for all of them, or when he needs to get up the occasional time at night, because I am just so exhausted. Yes, you might think it’s crazy and while I am writing this, I feel it is too. But nevertheless, the guilt is there. I know you can’t have a child on your own, it takes two people, and still I feel number four (and may be number 3) is my responsibility and the guilt is there whenever it gets a bit too much.

Or when he applied for a new job recently and felt it was harder as a dad of four kids.. I felt guilty! Did I make this so hard for him?

The guilt towards other moms with less kids whose help I often need when I can’t drive all my kids somewhere at the same time.

The guilt towards my parents, family and friends that I don’t call enough or am too tired to meet up in the evenings. The guilt that I snapped at my mom because I was tired.

Oh and I forgot the guilt of the long summer break. Here comes the guilt that I am actually taking these 8 weeks to spend in Germany with the kids so they get to be Germans and learn about their home country. The guilt of not doing enough for my business during that time. The guilt towards my parents when I leave all four of them with them for 2 hours so I can work. The guilt that I try and use every minute I can to do some work, although I am actually on ‘holiday’ with the kids.

I love these long summers in Europe, but the guilt is also often there.

Once we are back I am relieved that school and our normal routine starts again so I can work in peace while the kids are at school. And once again this small feeling of guilt creeps up for even having this thought, when it was such a special time we all spend together. Time seems to fly by and the kids grow up so quickly. How can I not wish that the summer holidays go on forever?

Well, rationally this all is nonsense. But irrationally it creeps up from time to time. I guess, from looking at my mom, it never goes away. And also it is nobody’s fault. It is all up to me. Nobody is making me feel guilty. I make myself feel guilty.

I know that I put this pressure on myself. It is this perfectionist side in me. It is me!

I’ve heard many times that mom guilt comes through other people and their expectations of us. Partners, parents, friends and so on. And I do believe that is true in some cases but not in all of them. I believe that at the end of the day it is us. If we know we are doing our best and are doing what is not only good for our family but also for ourselves and still feel guilty, then it is on us to handle that. There is actually nobody else to blame. Yes, I totally agree that sometimes people make it difficult and make us feel guilty, intentionally or unintentionally, but overall I still believe that it is on us to work with that.

We can’t change other people we can just change our own reaction to other people’s behavior.

What I do to minimize mom guilt

Mom guilt won’t go away completely. I know that.

However I am working on myself every day. To be a better person, a better mom, wife, daughter and sister.

  • By accepting and forgiving myself.

  • By not comparing myself - or my kids, or my family - to others.

  • By realizing that I was chosen to be the mother of my kids. I am the right person for them.

  • By realizing that I am not perfect, nobody is. And that is what makes us all interesting and human.

  • By realizing that I am doing the best I can so that it is good for all of us.

  • By realizing that little things count as well.

  • By realizing that I don’t have to give up myself completely to be a mom or a wife.

  • By trying to see the other side of the story as often as possible. The positive side instead of the negative one.

  • And by doing practical things like being prepared and plan ahead so that situations don’t surprise me and make me lose my temper.

By doing all that, my mom guilt is coming less.

I hope that this post tells you that you are not alone. And that there are ways to stop mom guilt!

What are you doing to hold mom guilt at check?

xoxo Emilia