Menu

When mom guilt whispers, ‘You’re a bad mom’

What if I decided to accept the presence of mom guilt, instead of fighting it?

When mom guilt whispers, ‘You’re a bad mom’

Working-mom guilt.

I'm a firm believer that it is truly a useless and unhelpful emotion.


It drives me crazy that hardworking, capable, and loving women who are both amazing mothers and amazing colleagues spend so much time and energy feeling like they (rather, we) are “not enough." And I'm usually chanting “Just say no to guilt!" as loudly as anyone.

But an experience I had this weekend changed my mind about how to treat that heretofore unwelcome friend.

Last Saturday, I attended a one-day conference entitled Achieving Optimal Health in Washington, D.C. (Note: it was Saturday, a day I'm normally home with my family.) The conference featured the inimitable Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of mindfulness-based stress reduction. During his one-hour talk, Kabat-Zinn managed to spell-bind me into awareness—if such a thing is possible. His state of being was pure calm, and his execution was so brilliant that at any given point, I wasn't sure whether I was meditating or listening to a lecture.

FEATURED VIDEO

I was also fighting the “G" word. Big, bad Guilt. It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday. I'd been at work all week, and my kids had been at school. I wasn't home with them running around outside. Instead, I was in an auditorium doing something for me. For my life. For my business.

“You should leave," Guilt whispered. “Bad mom!" she cried out.

And I told her to go away. That's ridiculous. The kids are happily playing with their dad.

Yet she kept coming back. Again. And again. Unpersuaded that she should leave me the heck alone.

Then, Jon Kabat-Zinn recited “The Guest House" by the 13th-century poet Rumi, and I starting to think maybe, just maybe, I had it all backwards.

Here's the poem:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

She may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.

Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi

What if I stopped kicking her out, I wondered? What if I took Rumi's still-relevant if rather ancient advice, and invited Working-Mom Guilt in as a visitor? Told her to have a seat and make herself comfortable a while? Invited her to hang out and listen to this great lecture with me?

“You are the house," said Kabat-Zinn. “You are not the visitors."

When Guilt knocked again, I smiled and imagined myself inviting her in. She sat down in a “harumph" and glared. But she was quiet.

Didn't pester me anymore.

And we simply sat there. Together.

Intellectually, we can understand how little those feelings of guilt serve us. We know that beating ourselves up over not working or “parenting" enough doesn't change us for the better. But that understanding doesn't necessarily make the guilt any less likely to show up in daily life.

Perhaps if we brought the feeling into the fold—like all the other uncomfortable feelings we know we need to sit with and breathe through—guilt, too, would lose its sting.

Do you experience working mom guilt? What are some of the ways you've addressed it? Any ways you've found effective in letting it go? Please leave thoughts below in comments.

This column is re-published with permission from Mindful Return.

Join Motherly

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

$159.99

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

$29.99

Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

$14.99

Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

$8.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

$7.99


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

FEATURED VIDEO

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

Keep reading Show less
Life
Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

FEATURED VIDEO

"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

Keep reading Show less
News