Mommy Guilt!

BY MOMWISE CHINONYE ONWUNLI

Mommy guilt is something that I struggled with for a while. Weeks ago, while I was in a rush to work, my son kept trying to whisper something to me. I ignored him several times.  I finally responded slightly annoyed because, I was in such a rush to drop him off at school, which was admittedly a frequent occurrence.  However, this day I had a very important meeting first thing in the morning and I had been up late preparing the night before.  “ I have a surprise for you, Mommy” my boy said. What is it? He did not respond, anticipating that I would join in his guessing game. I did not.  I am in a rush! We hurried to the car.  When he left my car for school he never mentioned it again and looked a little disappointed.  It was when I finally sat down for my meeting, a minute before it was about to start, I pulled out my portfolio from my bag and his two favorite toy cars slide across the meeting table in front of my fellow employees and my boss. These were things I knew were important to my little boy and he likely was hoping to make me smile. And I would have, if I’d only given him a minute.

It’s certainly a challenge to manage all our tasks along with raising a child. More importantly, it is really, really, hard to get everything right. When I first became a mother, I felt embarrassed and guilty about everything!  I would cower in a corner in a department store to breastfeed my child even though I covered him with a cloth.  I was meticulous about not only pumping and storing my breast milk but also making my own baby food when my son moved to solids. But I could never wash all his bottles timely and would frequently replace them because they were filthy.  With each attempt to be a great mother I would have to contend with the possibility that I was in fact not-so-great. I have left his bottles on the roof of my car. When he was a toddler, I needed to finish our grocery shopping but had to wake him to bring him into the store.  He cried relentlessly the entire time.  I can distinctively recall a fellow shopper shouting out  “Hold that baby!”  He was almost 3 and we were out of cereal and eggs. I was not going to hold him. Most recently, I mistakenly took his lunch with me to work. Yes, I am still the mother who insists on making his food even though he is of school age… and of course, I was in a rush to work for another “important meeting”.  The school principal paid for his cafeteria meal. My heart was heavy with a little embarrassment but endless guilt.

We encourage ourselves and each other, to go after our dreams and our personal goals. We want to take time out to take care of ourselves, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  We also need to take time to nurture our adult relationships. But with these are very important trade offs. I have the privilege of having a few friends that are homemakers and they too feel mommy guilt.  Whether it is putting their children to sleep early to fold the heap of clothes or the romantic evenings out and they hate that they are away from their children. There will be moments that won’t be the way we want to… the perfect way we hope to, for our children. And this hurts. Although many moms try to hide it, I have learned to embrace that I won’t get it right all the time.

Romans 8:28 says… “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” With much prayer and love, I make decisions and find peace whenever pangs of guilt arise.  Lastly, I choose to let other moms know, “I’ve been there!”  just as many moms did for me when I was ducking in a corner to breastfeed, pulling a screaming fussy toddler out of the street, or writing with a jumbo-sized kindergarten pencil in yet another important meeting at work.  No one is perfect and you don’t have to be…in order to be a great Mom.

Have you had instances where you have felt guilty? What did you do to restitute?

How did you overcome it? We would love to hear from you.

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