It creeps up on you like heartburn during pregnancy. Mom guilt is an annoying, burning feeling we'd be better off without, but so many of us suffer from it. Unfortunately, getting rid of it isn't quite as easy as popping an antacid. It takes some practice.
New mom Mindy Kaling knows what we're talking about. Since welcoming daughter Katherine in December the first-time parent has felt guilty—and she's teaching herself to let it go. "I've had to learn to release myself from mom guilt at least a couple times a day," Kaling recently told InStyle.
We're happy to see Kaling talking about how mom guilt impacts her on a daily basis, because talking about why we feel mom guilt might help take some of this pressure off.
According to a 2013 survey of 2,000 moms 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.
Adding to that, according to a 2015 survey by Fisher Price, is that 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." 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."
Because it is. And that's okay to admit—no guilt, necessary.
Kaling isn't letting her guilt take her hostage. Her new comments suggest this pumping, working, mama is fighting back and recognizing that she is doing what's best for herself and her daughter.
Being a mom can be as challenging as it is amazing, and on the days when it feels like you need to grow a pair of extra hands just to make it through, it's okay to say you can't do it all. That's another thing Kaling is teaching herself. "I'm also learning to feel better about asking for help, whether it's from family or hiring help," she says.
In Kaling's case, asking for and accepting help is helping her feel less guilty about time that she spends away from Katherine. "It's not profound, but I love my career and I don't want to make myself feel bad about pursuing both," says Kaling.
And she shouldn't. No working mother should be beating herself up about having a career as there's plenty of research indicating having a working moms is good for kids. (In Kaling's case, having a working mom means her daughter gets gifts from Oprah, so it's definitely a good thing).
We're glad to hear things are looking a little more balanced for Kaling these days. Back in March she described motherhood as "a constant state of worry," noting that she was "anxious constantly," and was hoping that would change quickly. Weeks later, it's clear that change has come. "Just cutting myself some slack has been very helpful for me," Kaling says.
Mamas who want to cut the mom guilt might do well to follow suit. Be kind to yourself, the way Kaling is, accept that there are hard days, and accept help wherever you can get it.
And know this: You're doing a great job, mama. Let that guilt go.