I feel guilty for not feeling guilty

Maybe mamas will never really be able to escape guilt—maybe we’ll always wonder if we’re doing this right.

I feel guilty for not feeling guilty

It’s actually a pretty great time to be a mama.

The Mommy Wars have negotiated a peace treaty. Empowering resources like Motherly exist (holla!). America finally seems to be getting on board with paid maternity leave. Random grandmas at the grocery store have stopped telling us what to feed our kids. (Just kidding, that still happens. But, hey, win some lose some, right?)

But in general, mamas are surrounded by support more than ever before—encouragement to make their own choices, to learn their own way (even if that means failing), and to do whatever will help themselves and their families to thrive.


Basically, this is the mama moment we’ve all been waiting for.

So…why do I feel so bad about it?

Because mama guilt is still definitely a thing for most women. When other moms huddle together, whispering furtively about the balls they’re dropping and the ways they are probably “screwing up” their kids, I go a little wide-eyed. Because, well, I just don’t feel that way. Almost ever.

I truly believe all those Pinterest memes that tell me that the very fact that I worry about being a good mom means that I already am one. That I should strive for grace—not perfection.

When I find myself queuing up Zootopia on Netflix so I can sneak in a solid hour of work...I remind myself that I’m setting an example that my daughter can be a mother and find fulfillment in a creative career.

When I give in to her moments of picky eating and agree to a “bread dinner”...I remind myself that while this won’t result in any boast-worthy palate development, it does mean she’ll sleep better at night than she would if she had gone to bed hungry (and that she ate kale quinoa with shrimp the night before, so she can’t be totally ruined).

When I plan a night out with my girlfriends and let my husband put her to bed alone...I remind myself that I can’t pour from an empty cup, and these moments when I can feel like my old self recharge me to return and pour my energy into being a full-time mama.

When my patience breaks and I snap at my fussy two-year-old...I remind myself that, well, it happens. And I take a deep breath, meditate for a moment on the lesson, and resolve to do better—to be better—next time.

In short, I let myself off that pesky hook that seems to love to scratch at our mama consciences.

And yet…it’s those moments of pride-instead-of-shame, of patting myself on my tired mama back, that the doubts creep in. Am I too complacent about the way I parent? Overconfident even? Does my lack of guilt make me more likely to make mistakes? Is it possible to feel too empowered?

Am I screwing up, just in a different way, without even realizing it?

It’s a cruel irony, this feeling guilty for not feeling guilty. It makes me wonder if maybe there is no way to escape it as a mom. (And/or if I’m a little insane...)

I’m also fully aware that my confidence stems out of privilege. I’m able to stay home with my daughter and work as much as I want to, a gift of balance not everyone can strike. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not grateful for the situation I’m in.

Maybe mamas will never really be able to escape guilt. One way or another, we’ll always worry about whether or not we’re doing this whole thing right.

But I’ve got a Pinterest board full of memes that confirm that means we’re all pretty awesome mamas.

In This Article

    The one thing your family needs to practice gratitude

    And a tradition you'll want to keep for years.

    Gracious Gobbler

    I think I can speak for well, basically everyone on planet earth when I say things have been a bit stressful lately. Juggling virtual school, work and the weight of worry about all the things, it's increasingly difficult to take even a moment to be grateful and positive these days. It's far easier to fall into a grump cycle, nagging my kids for all the things they didn't do (after being asked nine times), snapping at their bickering and never really acknowledging the good stuff.

    But the truth is, gratitude and appreciation is the kind of medicine we need now more than ever—and not just because the season is upon us. For one thing, practicing gratitude is a scientifically proven way to boost our happiness, health and relationships. More importantly, we need to ensure we're cultivating it in our children even when things are challenging. Especially when things are challenging.

    I'm ready to crank the thankfulness up a few dozen notches and reboot our family's gratitude game so we can usher out 2020 on a fresh note. So, I've called in some reinforcements.

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    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

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    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


    100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

    From Adelia to Ziggy.

    Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

    Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

    Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.

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