By: Veronica Cisneros
Mrs. Cisneros, a wife, mother of three and Licensed Marriage and Family therapist, is the founder of Empowered & Unapologetic, a program to help women identify who they are outside of all the roles they play.
It seems as though every mom is going through the same thing. “I really don’t want to do date night because that’s time spent away from the kids.” “I can’t take time out, so I can’t go out on a girls’ night.” “I feel so guilty spending time on my own because I’m thinking about my kids.” “I felt bad when I left and my daughter was hugging me and crying at the door.” Mom guilt is real…incredibly real! We can’t seem to escape this feeling of guilt because we’ve stretched ourselves so thin trying to tend to our families and still keep up with work life.
As a therapist, I often hear moms talking about their struggles. I come across moms every day who feel the intense guilt that comes along with motherhood. In my private practice, I always try to put myself in their shoes. While listening to each mom speak, it dawned on me…I experience this too! How can this be?! I’m the professional. I’m the one they’re going to for help, yet I’m experiencing it too.
To all my mommas: I understand how defeating it can be at times. I want you to know that you’re NOT alone! I used to feel a lot of mom guilt during my undergrad. My husband was deployed in Iraq. I remember staying up late trying to finish papers after a long day at work. I would pick up Aaliyah after work, make her dinner, and talk. Then, I would get her to bed. I remember vividly a time when I was in the playroom typing a paper and here comes Aaliyah with her blanket. She laid right next to me as I was typing away late at night. I’m typing and typing and looking at her. I felt like the worst mom ever. Here is my daughter laying on the floor because she just wants to spend more time with me. I felt intense guilt not being able to snuggle up with her in bed. She was only four years old at the time. It was at this moment that I just wanted to say “SCREW IT!” and lay in bed with her. But I knew if I did that, I wouldn’t be able to handle work or school the next day. My days were jam-packed! I did everything in my power to show Aaliyah that I loved her while I was with her, but wow…that mom guilt haunted me.
Mom guilt: the feeling of guilt, doubt, anxiousness, or uncertainty experienced by mothers when they’re worried they’re failing or falling short of expectations in some way.
This worry consumes us in so many ways…ways we can’t even imagine! Moms, you’re not alone!! I came across an article that stated 94% of moms in a baby center survey fessed up to feeling the shame over issues ranging from the amount of time they spend with their kids to the kind of diapers they use. Yes, you read that right. DIAPERS!
If so many moms are experiencing mom guilt, why isn’t it being talked about more? Why are we pushed into isolation and shame? Momma, I see you and you’re not alone! I understand we’re afraid of judgement. We want to look as though we have it all together. But the truth is, we don’t…and we don’t always have to either! We’re overworked, we feel underappreciated, and we’re constantly stressed. I’m going to help you resolve this! Here are the steps that help me address my mom guilt!
First step: Identify where the guilt is coming from.
Is it something someone said? Was it their reaction? How can you give yourself grace? I want you to think about that chick that gave you the side eye when you said you spent the weekend with your husband. Did they ever compliment you on just spending time with your husband? Or did they judge you and ask where your kids were? She represents judgement.
Step 2: Stop comparing yourself.
Comparison is the thief of joy! Think about how often you compare yourself to others, it happens so much more than we would like to admit. There will always be a Mom that looks like she has it altogether. You know, that one mom in our circle that seemingly has her life together. She works out every day and still somehow has the time to make dinner for her family. Women think they are falling short because the other mom seems to have it all together. Let me ask you this…do you know her pain? No. We don’t! Stop looking at her as a goddess! We’re so busy comparing ourselves to our friends, neighbors and women on social media without knowing what’s happening behind closed doors. Stop comparing!
Step 3: Unleash the mom guilt!
Be present on purpose! I used to think that if I skipped one night of bedtime stories that I was the worst mom in the world! That’s it, I failed! But when you look back at your childhood, what do you remember? Moms, your kids won’t remember every little thing you did. They will remember memories! So be present for your children! Be Mindful!
Let me show you how:
Right now, take a look around you. What’s right in front of you? Take a moment to identify what’s around you. Then close your eyes. What do you hear? Is it complete silence? With your eyes still closed, what do you smell? What do you feel? I want you to describe it in detail. Lastly, I want you to identify what you taste. If you have gum or chocolate around you, chew it. Describe it as though someone has never heard of chocolate or gum before! By following these steps, you are practicing mindfulness. Using your five senses will help you be present on purpose!
Step 4: Schedule a friend or husband date!
Schedule a date this week! No, seriously! Schedule a mommy date with a friend or a date night with your husband. NO EXCUSES! Pay attention to your emotions as you schedule this date. What emotions come up for you? How does that play a role in all of this? It’s important to identify your feelings.
To the mom that is so filled with guilt because she doesn’t have all the answers and is afraid to admit it: I know it’s hard and uncomfortable. I see you. You’re not alone. By following these four steps, you will begin on the path of addressing the mom guilt in your life! I’m here with you and so is our girl gang!
I will end by asking you a question…
What is your intent for today? Let’s strive to be present in the moment!
If you liked these tips, sign up for my Be Empowered course! In this course, I’ll address what’s holding us back to reduce the guilt and shame, and live empowered and unapologetically! Sign up today!