Do you know what, Mama? If you didn’t care so much, it wouldn’t bother you.
The fact that you care so much speaks volumes of the love you have for your children and your desire to mother them well. So, we need to talk about this heavy guilt that you’re carrying.
You feel guilty because you yelled.
You feel guilty because you fed them mac and cheese.
You feel guilty because they’re not in bed yet.
Guilt for having a baby.
Guilt for not having a baby.
Guilt for not breastfeeding at all or for long enough or maybe for too long (according to other people.)
Guilt for sleep training.
Guilt for co-sleeping.
Guilt for getting angry.
Guilt for feeling resentful.
For being tired. For not calling your friends. There are a million reasons why mamas feel guilty but there’s one good reason to stop.
It’s not helping you.
Sure, guilt in small doses helps keep us in check, but most of us are overdosing on guilt, and this actually keeps us from moving forward. Studies have found that concentration, productivity, creativity, and efficiency go way down when you’re stuck in guilt.
That heavy load is fogging up your brain, making it difficult to think straight. It’s making you stressed out and unhealthy. It’s giving the bully in your head free reign. The negative self-talk is sucking away your joy and producing anxiety. It’s keeping you from enjoying your life.
We all make choices we wish we could change.
I’ve condemned myself for months over a 10-second mistake but never praised myself for months over a 10-second achievement. I tend to be brutally hard on myself, and I have a feeling many of you reading this can relate. You can only hear so many “you’re screwing this up” messages before you start believing you’re a screw-up, and those messages are everywhere these days, aren’t they?
So, can I tell you that you are not a screw-up?
That no matter how many times you’ve made the same mistake, this is a new day and anything is possible.
Can I remind you of all the times you’ve kissed the boo-boo and made it better, sat up with a sick child through the night, rocked a crying baby even though your eyes and your heart were heavy, fed your kids first to make sure there was enough before you ate, passed up what you wanted so you could buy that thing for your little one, loitered outside the halls of the school to make sure your kid was going to be okay, braved through tough conversations, and comforted an upset child?
If there’s a million reasons to feel guilt, there’s a million more reasons to feel like a rock star.
Your kids aren’t holding your mistakes against you. They love you—and more than anything—they want to see you smile. You’re not a screw-up to them, you’re their whole world.
So, apologize if you need to and change your behavior if it’s required and then let it go. Guilt stops by to teach us a lesson but we invite it in for tea and give it a place in our bed. Listen to what it’s telling you and then let it wash away like the dirt from the day and get on with living and loving.
Just don’t hold on to it for dear life, because there are so many better things worth holding on to.