“Mommy Guilt”

By:  Crissie Miller Kirby

Initially, I thought my friend, Lynne Rauton, was crazy for suggesting that I write about my “Mommy Guilt,” but the more I thought about it – I thought, and why am I afraid to write about it?  Do I really think that DSS might show up at my door?  Am I afraid of being judged by other, more “perfect” mothers out there?  Am I afraid to admit my shortcomings as a parent?  Honestly, I’d have to say, “Yes,” to all of them.

If you are a woman and have children, you know, without me saying anything more, what “Mommy Guilt” is all about.  For those of you who have not been stressed . . . oops, I meant blessed to have children yet, let me explain “Mommy Guilt” in a few short sentences.  “Mommy Guilt” is that feeling that you have where you question every single decision you make in regards to your children.  This feeling begins almost the second you find out you are pregnant (or adopting, as the case may be for some) and intensifies, oh, 100-fold, the second said child takes his/her first breath.  “Mommy Guilt” knows no boundaries.  The guilty feeling can be from something as simple as what socks your child has on to larger decisions about whether or when to go back to work after delivery or what childcare facility to use.

My most recent “Mommy Guilt” episode cropped up yesterday morning when I put my 3 ½ year old in the shower before church.  This was not the first time we’ve done this – he loves to get in the shower and use the handheld sprayer to play, dance, sing and whatever else 3-year-olds do in the shower, besides actually bathe.  For reasons unknown to me, my dear, sweet Smith has decided that showering, alone, is not enough.  Oh no, he has to also pull up the stopper and allow water to fill the tub, as he is continuing to run the shower.  Needless to say, yesterday morning, I was also in the midst of steam cleaning a late night vomiting issue (gross, I know, sorry – more “Mommy Guilt”), and my dear sweet little Smith flooded the bathroom.  I did not handle this well.  Out came 5 beach towels to soak it all up – very small hall/guest bathroom mind you – and I totally lost my cool.

And dear sweet little Smith got a spanking.  Yes.  I said it.  I admit it.  I spanked my child.

Then I proceeded to have a major breakdown of “Mommy Guilt” proportions and cried for 10 minutes.

Worse than buyer’s remorse is “Mommy Guilt,” in those minutes after the spanking, I knew that my little man would forever be emotionally scarred and would spend an eternity in therapy for that transgression on my part.

Wait a minute.  Really?  I’m feeling guilty for teaching my child a lesson about not wasting water (that we do have to pay for) and taking care of our home (my daddy always told me that if you let water sit on linoleum, then it will ruin it).  I’d like to lay the blame for this on being a single mom, but I can’t.  If I were still married, the same exact scenario could have, and probably would have, occurred.  I am a woman; I am a mother and I love it, even when it is hard, lonely, and thankless.  Yes, I would change some things I have done, but, mostly, if I could, I would completely and totally outlaw “Mommy Guilt.”

I must run now and check the weather forecast; otherwise, I might spend all day feeling guilty for not dressing my children warm enough.

So, now that I have confessed my transgressions, what about you?  Have you ever experienced “Mommy Guilt”?  How have you overcome it?

7 thoughts on ““Mommy Guilt”

  1. I feel ya girl. I could beat myself up on a daily basis with the “mommy guilt” if I allowed myself. It ain’t easy – flat out, heaven forbid it be easy! The key for me is knowing I am not alone – being able to release with other moms and folks who truly “get it”, is what helps me get over the guilt and move on. Us mamas are way too busy multi-tasking and keeping the world revolving to waste any of our precious time beating ourselves up! 😉

  2. Well said Shannon and Crissie! I was a single mom at one point in my life when my son was about 3 years old and the “mommy guilt” would occur often if I disciplined him as I was already feeling the pressure of being two parents. I didn’t want to disappoint him and wanted him to be happy. I am so glad us mamas are there to lend a shoulder and remind us that we are not alone 🙂

  3. Some days I end up feeling bad just by having to hear myself fuss. But my mom tells me that is what is so different about being a grandparent…she had the same trials and tribs being the parent, just like us. Now, as a grandparent, she doesn’t have to sweat it because it’s our job to be the disciplinarians. Every parent goes through the same issues. That feeling of “mommy guilt” just means we’re being responsible for and attentive to our kids. 🙂

  4. You are so right Crissie, I have a lot of “mommy guilt” even more since I’ve committed to being home as much as I can with my children and only working a couple days a week. I learned at a marriage conference something that I remind myself of often. Your job as a parent is not to produce a “happy kid” but a “responsible adult”. Your kids are only in your care a certain number of years and making them happy all the time is not the job God intended for us for them to survive in this world. If we don’t correct they will not learn – let’s face it we all know Life can be hard and the “unexpected storms” can come up at any point. I love it when my kids are happy and trying to teach them that happiness comes from within not based on our circumstances is a challenge but one I hope they will get before my age…….. 🙂

  5. Well said Crissie! Not looking forward to those days! Thanks for including adoptive moms. That made me smile!

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