It shows up in the most random times.
Like when you’re hiding in the bathroom for getting upset with your preschooler who just will. not. listen.
Or when you’re having a well-deserved girls night out after months of being alone with the kids, only to feel bad that you’re not with them for bedtime.
Or when you’re simply wondering if you’re just doing this whole parenting thing the “right” way.
But now that I’ve added a second child to our family, I’m experiencing a whole new wave of mom guilt: being torn between the needs of my two children.
My little family’s newest addition is Baby Simon, who came along in July. He is really starting to develop and show us his personality. He is calm, laid back and oh-so sweet.
Then I have my 3-year-old, Henry. He is my wild child. My climber. My little hurricane. My sour patch kid. He’s sweet, then he pulls my hair and runs away laughing. But I love that kid so much and he can always bring a smile to my face.
I know that all this new mom guilt I’m feeling is ridiculous, but I can’t make it go away. I think it stems from the fact that now I have children at two completely different stages in life.
I want to snuggle with my baby boy on the couch and sit on the floor with him while he has tummy time. But I also want to play with my 3-year-old and run around with him in the backyard.
I feel like when I focus my attention on one of my children, I'm letting the other one down.
Then a full wave of mom guilt comes over me and I ask myself questions like. . .
- Will the baby develop slower because I let him lay on a blanket while I play with my toddler?
- Will my 3-year-old develop some sort of complex because I can’t sword fight with him while I feed the baby? (I did attempt to do both at one time and it ended badly.)
- Will my children have low ACT scores and not get into the best colleges because I didn’t pay a ton of money for them to go to a special preschool that teaches toddlers to be bilingual? (I know, I know, but it went through my head.)
- Do I need to be reading to my newborn already?
- Should I put him to bed later so he can sit with Henry while I read his bedtime story?
- Should I feel guilty for skipping pages when reading Dr. Seuss at bedtime because his books are SO LONG? He is the equivalent of a novelist for toddlers.
- Am I doing something wrong because my infant shows no interest in rolling over yet?
- Does my oldest think I don’t love him anymore because I spend so much time taking care of his little brother?
- Does he think he has been replaced?
- Am I spending enough one on one time with each of them? I work full time, so they spend five days a week at their sitter’s house.
- I still can’t get my toddler to poop in the potty.
- I use bribery whenever necessary. Is that so bad?
- Should I force my oldest to eat vegetables?
- Is my youngest getting as much skin-to-skin as his big bro?
- And on and on and on...
These guilty feelings make me feel quite bad. But do these things make me a bad mom? Rationally, I know the answer is no.
They make me a normal mom. A good, loving mom that admits she has imperfections. And tries her hardest to be the best she can be. But it’s hard and no one can do it all.
So instead, I’m telling the guilt that. . .
- I’m teaching my children they’re wonderful, but not the center of the universe.
- I’m modeling what taking care of a newborn looks like for my preschooler.
- I’m inculcating patience when I cannot immediately respond to requests, because I’m busy caring for the other child.
- I’m doing the very best that I can and that simply has to be good enough.
I decided that I wouldn’t let this ridiculous mom guilt steal any more space in my already jam-packed brain. Worrying about these things is a waste of time. Time that I could be spending sword fighting with my preschooler or cheering on my infant to roll over.
Now, every time that twinge of mom guilt pops in my head, I change my focus.
I focus on the healthy, beautiful baby boys that I am raising.
I think about how they are developing their own little personalities (even though they aren’t bilingual).
I run and run and run around the backyard with my 3-year-old and don’t feel guilty about not forcing peas down his throat.
I snuggle on the couch with my infant and listen to his baby giggles.
And all that mom guilt melts away.