My journey through mom-guilt started during pregnancy and it hasn’t stopped. As a mother, so far this one incident has been the worst case of mom-guilt. Here is what happened and the three lessons I learned about mom-guilt from this experience.
Early in December 2019, I was coming home from my parent’s place with my daughter, when she had quite the large blowout in her car seat. It was one of those where you had to wash the car seat too… When I opened up her diaper, I felt that it would be better to wash her in the tub than to clean her up using the wipes.
I have bathed her alone before, but it proved to be much harder now as she was bigger and heavier. I wrapped her up in her towel and was turning to leave the tub when my foot caught our bathroom rug and I started to fall forward with my daughter in my arms.
Instinctively, I twisted my body to the right, jerking my daughter and landing on the side of the bathtub where my left side broke my fall. I was completely winded from the fall, frightened as I was unable to catch my breath and my poor daughter crying, I crawled to the other room to grab my phone.
My initial thought was to call 911 but I couldn’t speak properly or even catch my breath so I called my husband first. My husband answered the phone, with staggered breath I tried to explain to him that I fell in the bathroom. He rushed home.
Twenty minutes passed and finally able to breathe normally, I examined my daughter checking for any bruises, bumps and other possible injuries. Thank Jesus, she was fine. The big smile on her face told me she was unharmed.
I came down pretty hard on myself.
Thoughts like, “What the hell was I thinking?” “Why did I think I could do this alone?” “What if I had hit my head and blacked out?” “What if Madison hit the tub instead of me?”
It was wave upon wave of guilt and it wasn’t just for that day, but it lasted weeks. (The pain of broken ribs also lasted weeks.)
So far this has been my worst experience with the infamous mom-guilt. Here’s what I learned:
1. Every mom in the entire world has felt mom-guilt
Lesson number one from my worst mom-guilt experience.
Mama, don’t allow yourself to wallow in the guilt. The important thing is your baby is safe. You’re not the only one to feel this guilt. This gut-wrenching, mind-numbing guilt that you might have made a bad decision regarding the care of your dear babe.
When I was going through this, I confided in my mom-tribe. This amazing group of mamas told me that they have felt the same and that I am not alone in these feelings. Not only that, but they also reminded that I am a good mom. While I was disappointed in myself for my poor judgment and mom skills, they told me I am a super-mom. “You instinctively turned my body to protect her! You saved Madison.”
I never thought of it like that.
Remind yourself every day. You are a good mom, you made the right decision based on your assessment of what is best for you and best for your baby in that situation. Accidents happen no matter how careful you are or how well you plan. Every parent that loves their children has felt this. You love your child with an amazing love.
Daddies, this applies to you too. And, if your partner is the primary caregiver, spending her days with the kids, tell her every single day, what an amazing mom she is.
2. Having mom-guilt does not make you a bad mom
I would actually say the opposite! Having mom-guilt makes you an amazing mom! The fact that you’re always thinking you could have done better, should have done better, will do better next time for your baby. I think that is the foundation of good parenting.
Being a bad parent means not feeling that you need to do better, can do better or should do better.
It is the desire to be better that brings about mom-guilt and the disappointment that you could have done better. Let that encourage you next time you’re feeling the mom guilt. It did for me.
When my daughter was young and going through some sleep transitions and I was mind-numbingly tired, I couldn’t get her to stop crying and go to sleep. In my frustration, I yelled at her. “MADISON, STOP”
Oh boy, was that a mistake. She did not stop… she actually started crying harder and louder. I felt terrible. Here is my babe, just two months into the world. Having a hard time adjusting to life outside the womb and I yelled at her for expressing herself the only way she knows how. Cue the mom guilt… since then I always bite my tongue when I feel frustrated. I remind myself that I know better and have self-control. (Having an issue with baby sleep? Check out this link.)
It’s where I learned number one in my post on 5 things I learned during my first week as a mom. These lessons really helped me and still help me today.
Each moment is a learning opportunity to change and grow into the parent you want to be for your child. Remember, parenthood is a life-long learning experience.
I also want to add, that sometimes I feel mom-guilt for wanting time for myself but I feel this also makes you a good mom. Us moms are people too, a friend, a daughter, a wife, a woman, and we need that me time. To be a good mom, you need to also take care of yourself. Fill your tank before you can pour out from that tank the love and care your little one needs.
3. There will always be mom-guilt in your parenting journey
No matter how long you’ve been a parent or if you have two, three or even five children, the mom-guilt will be there. I’m sure for experienced parents, they’re thinking “… it’s still there”
As terrible as it is to have mom-guilt, I am thankful for the experience and for the many other experiences I will have.
Well, at least that’s the mindset I am trying to have as I head into my motherhood journey. I want to be thankful for the opportunity to learn how and when to respond better and react differently to my child. I think the mom-guilt will always be present because throughout your motherhood journey you will always strive to be a better mom than you were. Even as you learn from your experiences, your child is always changing and not to mention each child is different so new lessons are learned. Each child and each new stage of development has a learning curve.
Remember mama, you’re doing a great job. Give yourself grace as you navigate through mom-life. Every mom has felt and will continue to feel that mom-guilt, don’t let it bring you down, you’re not alone. Having mom-guilt is a sign that you’re a good mom and on the right track. And finally, mom-guilt will always be there, so let it be a learning opportunity each time you face it. Let’s encourage each other.