Mom guilt is one of those things that hits us hard in the early days, and as the Duchess of Cambridge explains, it's also something that doesn't necessarily go away once your kids are school-age.
In a new interview on the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast with Giovanna Fletcher, the former Kate Middleton was asked if she ever feels "mom guilt." The mom of the future king replied, "All the time."
"I think anyone who doesn't ... is actually lying," the Duchess said, explaining that on that very morning Prince George and Princess Charlotte were disappointed that she wasn't able to be the one to drop them off at school that day.
Her experience proves that even mothers who seem to have everything going for them often don't feel like they're the "perfect" mom everyone else sees from the outside.
"You're always sort of questioning your own decisions and your own judgments and things like that. And I think that starts from the moment you have a baby," shared the Duchess.
That's, unfortunately, the truth for so many of us.
According to a 2013 survey of 2,000 moms in the United Kingdom by NUK, 87% of us feel guilty at some point, with 21% feeling this way most or all of the time. Sixty-nine percent of moms feel guilt over the ratio of their work-life balance, and 40% worry they're not devoting enough time to their children, also according to Nuk.
Stateside, American moms "seem to feel more pressure than moms in the other countries surveyed based on a higher level of agreement with statements reflecting parental confidence," according to a 2015 survey by Fisher-Price. In that survey,42% of U.S. moms polled felt that "properly caring for baby while taking care of myself and my responsibilities is a big challenge."
So many of us are feeling mom guilt, and it is time to ask ourselves why. If someone with all the privilege the Duchess of Cambridge can feel the guilt, then how can a mom who is feeling guilty for working overtime or having to buy the store-brand baby formula possibly not feel it?
Well, experts say it starts with accepting that you are doing the best you can, and channeling that guilt into something productive.
"We have all had our fair share of fails as parents. Whether we are running on three hours of sleep and literally can't stop the "Just go to sleep!" rant before it pops out, or we accidentally bonk little one on the head while lifting him from the car seat, I know we feel those moments even more than our precious babes," writes Dr. Holly Ruhl, a Developmental Psychologist.
"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?" Ruhl asks guilt-ridden mamas.
She continues: "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."
Whether you are mom to the future King of England or a mom who works at Burger King, please know that you can only do so much and that your children will know how hard you worked for them.
As mama Rebecca Eanes once wrote, "You don't deserve all that guilt, mama." We feel all that underserved guilt in part because society's expectations for moms are unrealistic (if the Duchess can't live up to them, they definitely are). You can't be perfect all the time and you shouldn't feel guilty all the time for that. Even Kate is human.
A little bit of mom guilt is normal—we totally get how Kate's heartstrings would be pulled by an adorable Prince and Princess asking mama to do the school run—but overdosing on it isn't good for anybody. We're glad Kate sees that, and hope the world can, too.