There are a lot of things that no one tells us before we become a mom.
Things that we really wish someone would have mentioned.
Some of these things probably go unsaid because they are simply inexplicable.
Like, the way that our hearts crack wide open to uncover new depths of love that
we never dreamt we would be capable of feeling.
While other things probably go unsaid because the already-moms know that new-moms
would never join them on this crazy journey if they told the truth about certain things.
Like, the way we’ll try to catch our child’s throw up or poop in our own hands at some point.
Or, how humiliating it feels to apologize to the neighbors when your child is caught peeing in their yard.
The really big secret, though, the whopper that no one prepares us for is ‘Mommy Guilt’.
‘Mommy Guilt’ is the most intense, nerve wracking, sanity-eating guilt that a person can experience.‘
Mommy Guilt’ is the gnawing fear that lives in the back of each mother’s brain that constantly taunts us:
“Do you even know what you’re doing?”
“How do you know that was the best decision?”
“You’re screwing up your kid. Look! She has your worst qualities.”
“There is going to be some serious therapy happening in their future.”
“Life isn’t about you! Who cares if you’re tired and you haven’t peed in
three days. You’ll have plenty of time to pee 18 years from now.”
‘Mommy Guilt’ is our Kryptonite. No one warns us about it, but we learn all about it pretty quickly.
I was schooled particularly fast. The moment I found out that there was a baby growing inside me,
I felt guilty that I had put her there. You see, I was eighteen. Fresh out of high school. I didn’t even
have a home of my own, let alone a life that was in order.
The ‘Mommy Guilt’ screamed at me:
“How can YOU give her the home and the life she deserves?”
“What have you done to this child who isn’t even here yet?”
“She deserves better than you.”
Then the day came. My baby arrived!
The ‘Mommy Guilt’ grew more and more each day because the reality set in that I really didn’t know
what I was doing. Plus, the decisions. They ask you to make about a million and one decisions within
the first few hours and days of your child’s life. Most of which they make you feel will be life-altering
decisions for your child. The kind of decisions that will determine the difference between raising a
Doogie Houser or a Bevis or Butt Head.
Fast forward a few years to when I’m 23. I give birth to my second daughter. Four and a half years of
mommy experience means that this should be a piece of cake by now. No. The ‘Mommy Guilt’ compounds.
Because, I am still flying by the seat of my pants and I now have two human beings to potentially screw up.
It was at 23 that I realized something, though. I was the same age that my mother was when she had me.
She might have been just as young, but she knew exactly what she was doing, didn’t she? Of course, she did!
Because she has always been my rock. The person who has helped me make decisions and know what is best.
She has always had all the answers. Hasn’t she?
I noticed something interesting. My daughters look at me the same way I always looked at my mother…The wise,
all-knowing oracle that I could always depend on for guidance. The one who gave me peace and comfort.
Was it possible? Yes, even she, my wonderful mother, felt the pain of mommy guilt gnawing at her.
Even she doubted and questioned herself all the time, hoping she was doing the right thing for her kids.
But, I never saw it. I never even knew.
There is something incredible in realizing that my kids don’t see my guilt and insecurities either.
They just see their mom, busy doing things for them and making decisions out of love.
They just see me. Wanting the very best for them.
One day, they might become mothers themselves. Then they’ll know my secret. They’ll know that
I’ve just been making all of this up as I go along. They’ll discover what ‘Mommy Guilt’ is and they’ll
feel that nerve-wracking pressure. But, I hope that they’ll know that the guilt is simply a sign of love.
A sign that they love their children so much, that they will never stop trying to be better and do better
for them. Even if they are just making it all up as they go along.