Ok, fair warning: that title is a bit of a lie. I do occasionally feel bad about things but when I do it’s because I ACTUALLY messed up and I ACTUALLY have a reason to feel bad about something as it pertains to parenting.
Let me explain: “mom guilt” has become a “thing”. It has become something moms (myself included) feel the need to project via social media or to our families or our friends as something negative we are experiencing while also experiencing something that makes us happy, less relaxed or which eases our burden. It takes the “edge” off allowing ourselves an experience or convenience that does not project total devotion to our children.
For example, the “it’s been a crazy day so I ordered pizza for takeout” Instastory–why do we do this? Because inevitably someone from our group of followers will chime in and say “I see you, sister! Good for you!” and this creates a general feeling of acceptance about our parenting choices. But here is the thing: you don’t ACTUALLY feel bad about this. You feel great, as you should. No prep, no dishes, happy kids, happy husband…happy mama. You even supported a local business. This is a total win. So why are we spending so much time justifying these choices?
Please show me the social media account of a father who expresses these sentiments. Do you know what my husband’s instagram account shows? Pictures of his bike. Because he loves his bike, he makes time to ride his bike and he does not feel bad about that, whatsoever. He doesn’t worry about what’s for dinner, what stage the laundry is at, or who is returning library books on time when he is on his bike (okay, he never does but stick with me). And he isn’t looking for justification for his choices. So why am I?
I think its because the era of the Pinterest mom was alive and well when myself and most of my mom peers became parents. We were led to believe that everyone was putting googly eyes on their kid’s juice boxes for Halloween. And while that facade seems to be fading and a new trend of “just getting by” mama is taking over–we are all still hesitant to lift the veil. These posts about our shortcomings, lathered with a thick layer of “mom guilt” have become a way of revealing ourselves, asking for community while also protecting our rep as “perfect mom”–because if you FEEL bad then you can’t BE bad, am I right?
But here is something revolutionary I tried recently: I let myself go do something FOR me– that actually inconvenienced my husband, left my 5 month old without her mother for the day and required me to use an entire tank of gas–and I did not post about it, let myself project any sort of bad feelings on it or regret it. I just ENJOYED it. It was a game changer.
My friend Brooke, who owns Frock Boutique in Asheville, asked if I would like to come model some clothes for her new website. That means I got to drive two hours one way listening to all of my favorite not-safe-for-kids podcasts. I got to drink HOT coffee while someone did my hair AND makeup. I got to wear GORGEOUS clothing in an incredible location. I got to chat with one of my oldest and best girlfriends for HOURS and support her incredible business. I got to ride back blaring loud music. I stopped for the food I wanted and ate it while it was still hot. I cannot stress this enough: IT WAS FANTASTIC.
But here’s the kicker: I came home and felt rejuvenated. I felt relaxed and fulfilled and ready to take on homework, dinner and bedtime. And it changed my perspective in a big way.
It is important to name our feelings and to talk to one another. I am here for community and y’all know that. But lets reserve feeling guilty for things that actually warrant guilt: you forgot to send your kid a snack, you smashed their finger in the van door, you didn’t move their blankie to the dryer before bedtime (my number one mom offense).
But when we are making decisions as mothers that may take a little away from our husband or kids but that build us up in other ways, let’s call those feelings what they are, too: empowerment, relaxation, relief and excitement.
I often feel that the new caricature of motherhood is a lot like Flat Stanley: one-dimensional and only going at the whims of others. You aren’t a tree, as they say. You can move, you can change and you can still be a good mom while spreading your wings a bit. It’s big things like choosing a new career or carving out time for a new exercise routine but it’s also little things like indulging in a manicure or heading out to see a show with friends. I mean, last night my whole family ate frozen chicken Cordon Bleu for dinner. I had time to cook. I had other, healthier options. But I made that choice because it’s freakin’ delicious and everyone eats it with no complaints. I don’t feel the least bit bad about that- #noguiltzone.
I’d love to hear: What have you done for yourself lately?!