Mom Guilt: It’s like having an annoying roommate

I don’t think I ever understood what “mom guilt” meant until I experienced it for myself. Before I had Milo, I thought mom guilt was the kind of thing a mom would experience if their child got hurt while under their supervision, or, feeling upset when their child was ill, etc. Oh how silly I was. Now, don’t get me wrong, those situations SUCK, and you will feel horrible. But, if I’m being honest, mom guilt is almost a constant nagging in your mind. Like, if there is a little angel on one shoulder and a little devil on the other shoulder, mom guilt is like a god damn leech attached to your brain. There is ALWAYS something that you SHOULD be doing or doing BETTER. Meanwhile, your child is happy as a pig in shit, and you know you’re doing an awesome job but, the leech wants you to know that you COULD be doing better.

…mom guilt is like a god damn leech attached to your brain

Above I gave the examples of feeling guilty if your child gets hurt or when they are sick. But, I wanted to give some examples of the kind of mom guilt that I have noticed in myself. And while I may rationally know it’s all bullshit and I shouldn’t feel guilt… it doesn’t matter. It’s kind of like when you feel anxious even though you know everything is fine. Sometimes it’s out of your control. Perhaps you will relate to these guilt examples…

  • Example #1: The other day my husband came home from work and decided he wanted to cut the grass. I could care less if the grass was cut, but out he went. Milo had dinner while he was outside. The dogs barked at him the whole time. Kind of stressful. So, he comes inside and now it’s bath time for Milo. My husband brought Milo up to have a bath and I sat on the couch for maybe two minutes before the leech started sucking at my brain. Now I felt guilty for sitting on the couch while my husband brought Milo up for a bath because my husband hadn’t eaten dinner yet. But, he chose to cut the grass. He didn’t say he was hungry. He could have eaten before bringing Milo up, etc. But no. I couldn’t sit on the couch for five minutes because the leech is an asshole.

  • Example #2: Now that the weather is consistently nice, I always feel guilty if I don’t take Milo outside to play. Even on days where he is happy playing inside. I still feel like a piece of shit. No matter what we do inside, I cannot stop thinking to myself that we should be outside. And, we all know what a clusterfuck going outside can be with a toddler. I usually end up taking him out but, OMG, it’s exhausting. And don’t even get me started on the sun. Going outside means that I am constantly thinking about sunscreen. “When did I put on his sunscreen?” “I wonder if I should reapply?” “OMG the sun is directly on his neck!” “I should move his water table into the shade.” “He needs a bigger hat!” When did the sun become public enemy #1?

  • Example #3: Since we realized Milo is behind in the number of words he is saying, I feel like I should constantly be working on words with him. Rationally I know I can’t and shouldn’t be doing that, but that doesn’t matter. Mom guilt is not a rational thing. If I’m checking my email while he’s eating breakfast, I feel like garbage because I’m not interacting as much as I COULD be. If I’m trying to get the house somewhat tidy, I feel bad that he’s playing by himself. I certainly don’t think to myself “damn Renee, good job getting the house tidied up!” And, I know that independent play is important for children. I know this! But again, it doesn’t matter.

We’re just watching Toy Story on a sunny afternoon. We aren’t robbing a god damn bank.

Sometimes I wonder if mom guilt was a big deal “back in the day”. And by back in the day I mean, before social media. I would bet that the time spent looking at perfectly curated Instagram accounts is significantly (and positively – I’m a nerd) related to the degree of mom guilt one has. Friggin’ Karen is outside loving her life with her kids every day! Or at least that’s what her perfectly staged photos appear to be saying.

We are also inundated with information in today’s world. Your kids shouldn’t eat this. Your kids should eat this. Your kids should get this much structured play time. Your kids should get this much sleep. Your kids should get this much screen time. Your kids should BLAH BLAH BLAH. It’s information overload.

I am really trying to recognize when it is this useless emotion that is making me feel a certain way. It becomes a problem when it is keeping you from enjoying a moment with your babe or even a moment alone. Instead of focusing what I “SHOULD” be doing or not doing, I’m trying to focus on the positives. Like, no, we didn’t go outside today but, we read some more books and FaceTimed grandma. Yes, I am going to go for a long walk alone right now, but, Milo is going to play with Dad, and I’m going to get some much needed exercise.

The definition of “feeling guilty” is something along the lines of “a negative feeling because you think you have done or are doing something wrong.” Which, is crazy if you think about it. We’re just watching Toy Story on a sunny afternoon. We aren’t robbing a god damn bank.

XOXO Renee Reina

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  • Carmen
    June 22, 2020

    Thank you for putting into words EXACTLY how I feel all the time!

  • Kerri
    June 22, 2020

    The sun is so annoying! Lmao

  • Susan Grenon
    June 22, 2020

    Great blog! And as a Mom of adult children and a Grandma to the cutest little boy on earth 🙂 , the Mom guilt never seems to go away.

  • Alison
    June 23, 2020

    Yesssss! So true – I constantly feel like this.

  • Anna
    February 5, 2021

    Yes! it’s constant and about everything. I truly believe a big part of it is because of the abundance of information/advice out there. It makes us feel like everything has to be perfect or we’re screwing up our kids when in reality a lot of little things don’t really matter. But for me no matter how much I tell myself that I will still feel guilty about every single thing.

  • Sophia
    February 6, 2021

    Your analogy of the leach is spot on. It is always there!

Announcing when you’re going to go pee… and other things related to being the “default parent”
Mom Guilt: It’s like having an annoying roommate