I don’t know for sure, but I feel like most moms deal with guilt from time to time. For me, it’s a daily battle. Until recently, I didn’t realize just how much happiness this “guilt” was stealing from me.
This past weekend I came down with a bad cold and thankfully my husband was there to watch our daughter while I got some rest in bed. I noticed a few things my husband did that made me realize how much pressure I put on myself as a mom. That day, my husband and daughter had a bowl of Froot Loops* for breakfast. Instantly I thought to myself, I would NEVER EVER give my toddler a bowl of Froot Loops* for breakfast. My goodness, that would make me a bad mom. All the sugar that stuff has in it and with the lack of nutrients, I might as well have given her a bowl of ice cream! Ice cream would have had more protein! No, I could never do that without feeling like a horrible, horrible mother. Instead, I make her eggs in the morning with toast and fruit. Sometimes I will give her some cottage cheese and yogurt on the side, if she’s feeling really hungry. I carefully plan out nutritious meals and snacks, and hunt for recipes on Pinterest if I feel we need to change things up a bit. I can’t give my daughter cookies or chocolate without feeling as though someone will take her away from me. I am always making sure she’s being fed nutritious food at perfect intervals throughout the day, and the stress of it all can become exhausting.
I also noticed my husband sitting down on the couch and watching Netflix. He did this while watching my daughter and occasionally playing and colouring with her. I became SO jealous! When I’m alone with her during the week, not only do I not have time to watch TV because there’s a million things to do around the house, but I can’t get through 10 minutes of a show without feeling super guilty about not paying enough attention to my daughter. Then I start worrying about screen time, and how I shouldn’t be watching TV during the day because that’s not good for my daughter’s development. She needs me to be there giving her activities to do that will help her to develop socially, cognitively, physically and emotionally and… did we read enough books today? Did we sing fun, educational songs? Is she well hydrated? When was the last time she had water? Does she need a diaper change? Why haven’t I started potty training yet? Does she need to get outside more? Am I being too nice and always giving in? Am I being too mean and unfair? Has she had enough sleep? Am I bathing her too much…or maybe not enough? How much sugar has she had today? Am I being a helicopter mom? Maybe I need to be more like a helicopter mom? A thousand thoughts run through my mind everyday about whether I am being a good mom or not. 9 times out of 10 I lose that battle and end up feeling inadequate.
Parenting is not for the faint of heart. It takes everything out of you! What makes parenting even more challenging these days is Facebook and Instagram. Social media makes it so easy to compare yourself to others. Not to mention all the opinions and views of the world being thrown in your face every time you swipe through your newsfeed. If you really want to feel mom guilt, just go on Facebook and look at those mothers who appear to have it all together: those mothers who look so perfect and presentable, like they actually have time to take care of themselves. Meanwhile, I’m lucky if I can shower once a day and remember to brush my hair. They have these beautiful children who are always well-behaved, perfectly dressed, and only eat home-made, sugar-free food.
I have no idea if I’m doing this whole parenting thing right. But I need to remind myself to relax and stop putting so much pressure on myself to be the perfect mom. Does giving your child a bowl of Froot Loops* for breakfast make you a bad parent? No, some kids don’t even get fed breakfast and besides, it IS okay to have a treat once in a while. Does watching your favourite TV show make you a horrible parent? No, as long as you are still keeping an eye on your kid and they aren’t off cutting their hair with a pair of scissors in the bathroom or giving their dolls bath time in the toilet….
Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a perfectionist, maybe I have too high expectations, or maybe because I only have one child I have too much time to obsess over all the little things. Or maybe it’s just because I’m a mom.
I don’t really know the answer. But what I do know is that I love my daughter with everything I have, and I want the world to be hers. I want to give her the best life I possibly can. However, I am human and I need to loosen the reigns a little bit and just be happy that I’ve kept this tiny human alive for over 2 years. And hey, she’s pretty great. She’s got some killer dance moves and one heck of a personality… so I must have done something right, right?
Feeling guilty over being a “less than perfect” mother is going to destroy your happiness. We all need to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves. We can’t be perfect and we can’t do everything (even though people think we can). And besides, as I’ve heard a million times, “they grow up so fast, so enjoy it while you can”. I think there’s a lot of truth to that statement. So let’s put our to-do lists and perfect expectations to the side, and JUST ENJOY IT! 🙂
(She may be 2, but I’m never going to stop holding her like a baby!)
*Froot Loops are not spelled properly (i.e. Fruit Loops). If you don’t believe me, go check your cereal boxes, or google it 🙂
The OCD Mommy