Oh, did you not have a perfectly natural birth in a stream, with a wild deer in attendance, and a bodhran player providing the life rhythm that would guide your baby out into the world? What a shame.
Did you not breastfeed for the first seven years? That's too bad.
Did you not make your own organic food from the vegetables you grew in your organic hydroponic garden? That's really the best you know.
Did you cloth diaper? Only provide wooden toys, blessed by a shaman in the himalayas? Did you work? Did you stay home? Did you shout? Did you never shout? Did you use time out? Did you never do anything?
No matter what choices you've made as a mother, there is someone to judge them, and sometimes, the harshest judge we have, is ourselves.
We judge ourselves over the big things, sure. But the guilt that really slows us down is over the little things. Did we say the right thing? Did we handle things the right way?
Of course we want to do the best job possible. We wouldn't have this guilt if we didn't deeply feel the need to get this job done right.
But it's not doing me any good. Sure, it's fair to evaluate whether or not my methods are working for my kids. But instead of feeling guilty, which I know leads me to go far in the other direction and makes me feel bad, it's time for me to give up the guilt.
I've done things I'm proud of as a mom (breastfeeding, babywearing, communication). And I've done things that I'd do differently if I had the chance again (spanking, and yelling). But I know how to say I'm sorry from my mistakes, and I know how to learn from them. That's most I could ask for from my kids. I don't see why I'd expect more from myself.
So, from now on, when I start to feel guilty, I'm going to ask myself two things:
How would I handle that differently in the future?
What did I learn?
They didn't come with instructions, and really, the best any of us can hope for is that we keep trying our best.
Mom guilt is not our friend. It's a waste of our time, it's a waste of our energy, and we don't deserve it.
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