The Curse of the Mom-Guilt
It hit me like a train, the minute I became a mother.
I’d been in labor for 24 hours, I’d pushed for two hours until her big head came out of a place that seemed impossible. I was exhausted and the drugs wore off so fast. So very fast. I know why they call it “high,” because I came down from that high at a break-neck speed.
I don’t want to talk about it now, but there were chills like I’d never known before.
Anyway, they placed my daughter in my arms. I was quite taken with her, immediately falling in love. I kissed her nose and snuggled with her.
And then I asked someone to take her from me.
I felt, and I still feel, terribly guilty for that.
I was so very, very tired. I couldn’t hold her. My head was swimming and the nurses wanted me to feed her and I tried. She latched, it was perfect. But I couldn’t hold her. I handed her off to my husband and I dosed off, unsure of what was happening.
And then my family entered and they passed her around. I’d hardly gotten to see her. And the guilt stacked on. I was horrible. I was going to wreck this whole thing. Thirty minutes into it and I was failing.
The guilt didn’t go away. I remember the first time I yelled at my daughter.
And the first time I swatted her.
And when I let one of them tumble down the rock stairs.
And when I forgot to buckle one of them.
And when I gave one a sippy cup with old milk.
And when I sent one to school in pjs and it wasn’t pj day.
And when I couldn’t breastfeed my oldest.
And when I chose not to breastfeed my others.
And when gave (give) them an iPad on (each) Saturday morning so I can sleep longer.
And the many (oh…so many) times I have forgotten share-day.
The list goes on and on.
But here’s the rub.
That’s the devil doing his job.
Cause I know, in my heart and in my head, that I am rocking this motherhood thing. I am, like, a really good mom.
I read to my kids.
And I teach them about God.
And I take them to the doctor.
And I help them with homework.
And I laugh with them.
Our family has dinner ’round the table and popsicles on the deck. We have game nights and movie nights and messed-up vacations. We help each other out with chores and we sing outrageously loud and have amazing dance parties in our pjs.
We go to the library, the park, the swimming pool. We have picnics and birthday parties. We walk the toy aisles of Target and name all the things they’d love to have. We have blanket forts and pillow-pools.
We talk about the poor and our responsibility to society.
We talk about the moon and the sun and the Earth and how it all works.
We ask questions and we give answers and we wonder.
I am a much better mother than my guilt would allow me to think.
And I know you are, too. We fail and we succeed.
What matters, what really matters, is that our children are loved and cared for, supported, and duly prepared for the life that will face them.
That guilt, that devil doing his job, is only going to stand in the way from me doing mine