Like many moms, I struggle with mommy guilt and anxiety. It seems that now matter what I do, I always end up in some way feeling inadequate or like I did not do enough. These feelings creep up before, during, or after almost anything I do. It is a vicious cycle.
The way I second guessed every little thing was ridiculous. After years of this type of behavior, I really had to check myself. This type of mommy guilt, second guessing my every effort, the anxiety it would give me started to affect every aspect of my life. It was not just about me, but it was about my marriage, my parenting, all of my abilities. I know now that second guessing myself, was me feeling inadequate. As if my all was not enough.
Once I learned to stop making everything “perfect”, stop obsessing about themed dress-up days at school, the perfect pumpkin contest entry, or who has the latest and greatest of everything; my life, our life, became more fulfilling and simple. In fact I love this version of myself and my family the best. It is just us, in all of its glory, chaos, and simplicity. It is beautiful.
This is no easy task to come by. It took years of anxiety, anxiety attacks, mommy guilt that felt like it was crushing my soul and my mind in order for me to wake up to the irrational things I was feeling and giving my energy to. My mommy guilt and anxiety tried to convince me I was not enough. I felt like a failure. After some deep soul searching, I figured it out. I can not live like this anymore.
I am still a work in progress. I still battle within myself. I still struggle with boundaries and being a people pleaser to the point that I forget about what my needs are and how to go about receiving them. I struggle the most with mommy guilt and anxiety in regards to my kids. I struggle with saying NO. I am learning to say no more regularly and not falling prey to feeling like I have to say yes to everything and to everyone in my life.
Now that our children are getting older, they have real social lives. They want to go to their friends’ homes every day after school, frequent the mall, trampoline parks, and movies. Guess what; that requires mom or dad to partake in these activities, and on top of that, we have three kids. So if two want to do something, that requires driving to and from, money, time management, and taking others into consideration. I have been the “yes” mom until I explode; then mommy guilt sets in. I feel bad for a multitude of reasons and that feeling lingers all night long.
We need to say no. A child being told no is a necessary part of life. You do not always get what you want or ask for. Everything is not always about you. It is about me, your dad, your siblings as well; all of us need to be taken into consideration. This is life. My children do their fair share socially but we had to draw a line; a limit, otherwise it would be go go go all day long. When you are a mom like me, this was very hard to implement. I felt bad. I felt selfish. In fact, I was being none of those things. We are to teach our children boundaries, consideration for others, how to compromise, and also how to accept hearing “no” and not getting what they always want.
After we started to implement these changes within our household, my mommy guilt started to simmer down. Mommy guilt and anxiety are joy thieves. They come in and leave you feeling empty. Stop those joy thieves in their tracks. Believe in your abilities as a mom, provider, partner, and do not second guess yourself. We do the best with what we have, while we can. Knowing my children were watching me doubt myself, my abilities, always think my efforts were subpar was my game changer.
I learned my children like when things are not so complicated and so “perfect”. They have seen a much happier version of me. I have learned to take long, deep breaths when my mind starts to race. I have learned to focus on our reality, not all the things that could and even might go wrong. I am just grateful for the chance to do what I can for them.
We moms can be control freaks, and we need to stop. Just let things be. Do what you can and if you cannot then so be it. We all need to understand, that’s what a family is about. Do no let your mommy guilt, your anxiety, or the need to say no but are scared to, steal your happiness. Your children will forgive and forget; it is time for you to forgive and forget as well.