Breaking Free of Mommy Guilt

It seems like in the age of social media, the pressures to be the perfect parent are even heavier, and the help to achieve said perfection is more scarce.

Everywhere you click, there are articles about how you’re messing up your baby, reasons why you are a terrible person for not using cloth diapers, pressures to go to 100% organic and home-made food, guilt-trips to make you feel like you have to be a stay at home parent and home school your child if you want them to have any chance for success in life. It’s exhausting, and frankly, impossible to be the do-it-all parent.

I don’t use cloth diapers. Shame on me.

I feed my baby formula instead of breastmilk. How dare I?

I send my son to daycare so my husband and I can work full time. We’re so neglectful!

In an age of social media, I believe moms feel more pressure, more guilt, and more shaming than ever before. I’ve put a lot of guilt and pressures on myself since becoming a mother, and it needs to stop.

I don’t mean to sound like it’s not wonderful to be able to do these things, because it is!

Cloth diapers make a huge impact on the earth in cutting down on disposable diapers. I don’t really have a reason for not doing this other than my own laziness, so this one is on me. My bad.

Organic/home-made is wonderful because you know exactly what’s going in your child’s body! As you know, I’ve tried breastfeeding my son and I can’t, but I do want to try and make homemade baby food for him once he starts eating solids.

I wish I could be a stay at home mom and be with my son all day! Unfortunately, my husband and I have a mortgage, car payment, insurance, and several other bills that require us both to have full time jobs. Maybe in the future I can cut back to part time, but that’s just not in the cards for us right now.

Even knowing logically that I can’t possibly do it all, I feel guilty every time I have to say “no” to something, or can’t add another mommy task to my plate.

I think even mothers of full-term babies can relate to this; mommy guilt is real!

Mommin’ aint easy already, so why are we adding more pressures to ourselves and piling on the guilt?

This was a rough month for me and my little man.

I try to avoid blanket statements, but I’m going to throw one out there now. Every preemie/NICU parent gets anxious around this time of year, because this is when the germs come out to play.

I went back to work in August, and I wasn’t happy about putting my son in a daycare. The teachers have all bee fantastic, and they use this wonderful app where they post pictures of him and log when he eats, sleeps, has a diaper change, or does something noteworthy.

They’re wonderful, but there’s only so much they can do to cut back on the spread of germs.

After a couple of weeks at daycare, Kaden came home with a stomach bug and ended up having diarrhea for a week. I felt so guilty, because after all, it was my fault he was in daycare.

After his stomach virus cleared out, he caught a cold and became so congested that he had mucus coming out of his eyes and he would cough so hard that he would turn red and couldn’t catch his breath.

We ended up taking him to the emergency room, because his cough scared me and we thought he had pink eye. On the drive to the emergency room, I was crying because I was terrified that Kaden would be admitted with some serious illness, and I would have to relive his NICU days all over again in the PICU. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t stop crying, the guilt was overwhelming.

In my mind, if I could have just stayed home, this never would have happened. I could have kept him safe from all the nasty germs and he never would have had to deal with any of this.

Luckily, it was just a cold. Unfortunately, there was nothing to give him and he would have to ride it out on his own.

Kaden and I spent a lot of time in the bathroom with the hot water on full blast in the shower and the sink to try and clear up his sinuses enough for him to breathe. We snuggled, and he slept many hours on my chest because he couldn’t breathe on his back.

I felt like a terrible mother every time I dropped him off at daycare, and wondered what new germ would attack my baby that day.

When I thought surely things would start clearing out, Kaden got hit with a double ear infection from the drainage in his sinuses. My poor, sweet baby boy just could not catch a break.

Now, two weeks later, Kaden still has some congestion but his appetite is back with a vengeance, and his ears look great (according to the doctor today at his check-up).

I still feel guilty, like I should be somehow protecting him from the evil germs, because I am his mother. Talk about an impossible pressure I’m putting on myself!

Recently, my sister in California told me that her daughter also has a cold. My sister is a stay at home mother, and even still, she could not protect her precious cargo from the big bad germs.

The news from my sister was bittersweet in a sense.

On the one hand, I knew what my son had been going through and I hated that my sweet niece was dealing with it as well. On the other hand, it was proof that being a stay at home parent does not mean that your baby is safe from sickness.

As much as I hated that my darling niece was sick, it was as if a weight was lifted from my chest. I had always logically known that Kaden being sick was not my fault, but I still blamed myself for being a working mother. It was as if I was given proof that I wasn’t a bad mother, and that no matter what, there are things in this world we cannot shield our babies from, no matter how hard we try.

Mommy guilt is illogical.

When people ask me if I work, and I confirm that I work full time, I feel guilty. I feel like they’re judging me.

Logically, I know they’re not but mommy guilt does not abide by the rules of logic.

When people comment on the fact that I’m not breastfeeding, I feel like a failure.

Logically, I know I did everything I could and that I am not a bad mother because of my inability to breastfeed, but mommy guilt doesn’t care and sets up shop anyway.

It’s hard to fight free of the pressures and break out of the crippling guilt.

In a world of social media where everyone portrays a perfect little family, just remember that is just one snapshot in one second of time, and it’s probably not even all that accurate.

Moms that appear to have it all together, do everything by the book, stay at home with their babies, make all of their food and soaps and cleaners by hand, and seem like they have the perfect family are struggling just as much as the moms that are a more obvious hot mess, trying to throw together a PB&J on their way out the door to drop the kids off at daycare as they try to figure out if the stain on their pants is spit up, poop, or some other bodily fluid.

We’re all doing the best we can, and really, isn’t that all we should be striving for?


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