Dealing with "Mom Guilt"

Mind Fit: Dealing with “Mom Guilt”

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It’s Monday morning and I am awake… a new week of kindergarten chaos, teething baby joys, and evenings filled with clients begins. Between the kids, husband, and work demands, I am constantly trying to find ways to stay grounded, God-focused, sane, and healthy so I can parent some small humans who desperately need it.

It’s now 8am; everyone has been fed and dressed, so I begin to load up the car (let’s be honest, wrestle them into car seats) in order to head off to the gym. I start driving and soon I hear it - that voice. Do you ever hear it? The one that not so gently reminds me I should stay home and let the baby nap so I can keep her on schedule. The one that reminds me that my kindergartener goes to school at 11am, and that if I spend the morning at the gym, that doesn’t give us much time together before school. The one that reminds me of the million other things I have to do to make sure the kids don’t grow up to be delinquents.

The mom guilt has spoken.

For me, the mom guilt comes in many forms, but it always says the same thing: “If you do something for yourself, you are failing as a mom.”

A few weekends ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Women’s Conference at Crosspoint Church. During one of the breakout sessions, I sat in on a talk called “Band Aids of Truth,” which was given by one of my colleagues, Michele Corgait. During the talk, Michele discussed the difference between guilt and shame. She mentioned guilt being related to something we have done, a behavior, while shame is related to who we are. When I think of mom guilt, a daily struggle, I am reminded how often this voice appears related to a behavior, like going to the gym, and is quickly given the power to be a shaming message, speaking to my core and letting me know I am not a good mom.

I will tell you, I wish that voice would say, “Wow, what a great mom you are to take care of yourself.” I wish the voice would remind me that I’m more patient when I exercise, or that going to the gym is a great way to deal with my anxiety, or that taking time for myself helps me to be at my best, whether it’s at home or at work . But it often does not, so it is up to me to overpower that voice and speak truth to myself.

Here’s the good news:

We DO NOT have to be stuck with mom guilt or feel like we are failing. Continue to take time for self care, practice compassion on yourself, and remind yourself that you do your best mothering when you take care of you too.

You ARE a good mom.

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Sarah Andrews is a Get Fit member and a Marriage and Family Therapist who practices in Modesto.

Learn more about Sarah and her work.