Disclaimer: This post contains my opinion on a number of topics, some of which may be controversial to some. You’ve been warned.
Every mom knows what I’m talking about when I use the phrase “mommy guilt.” It’s real and it’s debilitating.
I’m reading a book right now that a good friend recommended to me [there will be a post soon about that book and other mommy/parenting books!] and it has really got me thinking about the expectations that society has for modern mothers and how those expectations have changed over the past few decades.
Social media and our modern world, while fantastic in so many ways, has made mothers feel inadequate and incapable. For instance, society expects ALL women to breastfeed. If a woman chooses to or cannot breastfeed her child, she is thought to be hurting her child and her baby won’t be as smart or as healthy as his/her breastfed peers. Likewise, society sends the message that if you think you “can’t” breastfeed, you’re just not trying hard enough. Similarly, women are sent the message that if they do not make their own [organic] baby food, they are also doing a disservice to their babies. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read things along the lines of “I make all my own baby food. That way I know EXACTLY what’s in it. I don’t want my baby eating store bought food. Ick!” Are all the foods you eat made from scratch? Mine sure as heck aren’t. I love Kraft macaroni and cheese too much.
To some, this may sound a little hypocritical, because I am breastfeeding, and I do hope to be able to make Porter’s baby food. However, I do not think that formula fed babies are inferior to breastfed babies, and if I am not able to make all of Porter’s food and I have to buy some of it at the store, I’m not going to think the world is ending.
So…women are expected to breastfeed. Women are expected to cook and prepare all their own baby food. And on top of this, women are expected to have enough hours in the day to always have a clean “Pinterest worthy” home, cook a nutritious and delicious meal for the rest of the family, shower and look put together every day, come up with educational and stimulating activities for their babies/children to do throughout the day, etc. etc.
Even without all of these expectations, just being a mom (by itself) is hard enough.
Don’t get me wrong: I love it when my home is clean. I’d like to have dinner ready and prepared every night by the time David gets home, and I enjoy being clean and showered just as much as the next gal, but does it happen every day? Nope. Not. Even. Close. Some days the only thing I “accomplished” was being a mom to my beautiful son.
I mean, I try to shower every day, but sometimes I put my pajamas back on. Some days I put my hair up in a bun, put yoga pants on, and if Porter spits up on me, instead of changing, I just rub it in. Some days I’m convinced that if I were to run into Stacy and Clinton from What Not To Wear at Target or the drugstore that they’d ambush me.
Another thing a lot of moms feel guilty about: working outside of the home.
Being on maternity leave was amazing. I loved spending so much time with Porter, and it was fun getting to know this new little person and learn about his personality and the person he was going to become. When I had to return back to work when he was eleven weeks old, I felt like I was going to miss out on a lot, and guess what? I did. However, I do not think I am a bad mom because I went back to work. Do I feel like a bad mom sometimes? Sure. Did I/Do I have feelings like Porter was going to forget who I was? Yes. But I try to remind myself every day that I’m STILL A GOOD MOM. And now it’s summer and I’m home with him until school starts again in the fall. I am so thankful that I have this “extra” time with him that a lot working moms don’t have. Will I feel guilty when I go back in the fall? Probably, but I’ll still consider myself to be a good mom, even if I have to remind myself of that at times.
On top of all this, every mother wonders if she’s “doing it right.” Yes, it’s correct that there is not one right way to raise and parent a child, but that doesn’t stop women (and I’m guilty of this) of questioning every thing they are doing. I have found myself Googling things like “How many naps should my [blank] month old be taking a day?” “What time should my [blank] month old be going to bed?” “Is the cry it out method cruel?” “My baby hasn’t pooped in two days.” etc. etc. Yes, the internet is great, but what did moms do before the internet? They trusted their instincts and their doctors. I have a really hard time NOT Googling my questions and concerns, and I try to just do whatever I feel is right, but sometimes it’s hard not to doubt every little thing. Because let’s face it, like every other mom, I want to make the “right” decisions and do what’s best for my son.
Do men feel these same pressures as fathers? While I don’t know for sure, I don’t think they do.
Being a mom is tough, but please don’t get me wrong. I am NOT complaining about motherhood/being a mom. I LOVE being a mom, and I’m thankful that God gave me the opportunity to be a mom. It provides me with so much joy and fulfillment. My heart is so full of love for Porter–love I didn’t know I was capable of feeling. Yet…I still feel these pressures, and I think it’s okay to admit that.
So, society: forgive me. I haven’t even started putting together Porter’s “baby book,” there are dishes in the sink, my son went to bed with pureed avocado on his forehead, and my husband is going to be home in twenty minutes and I have no plans for dinner.