Something that I have never really understood is when the Brethren are talking to women they often tell them to quit being so hard on themselves. And then I experienced mom guilt. And now it all makes perfect sense.
Now that I am immersed in this world of motherhood I have been quite shocked by some of the things and feelings I have encountered. There is so much pressure out there. I say out there because honestly I cannot pinpoint where this pressure is coming from. Sure we can say the pressure is from social media or from culture or peers or even just from ourselves... but really it's not just one place, one person, one statement. There is just a lot of freaking pressure.
And this pressure brings on a lot of guilt.
Knowing I would be a working mom, I knew I would feel guilt. But the crazy thing is the guilt I feel is very different than what I expected. I expected feeling guilty for leaving my baby to go to work. What I didn't expect is the relief I feel every time I get to go to work. Going back to my normal life was easier than I expected. And that made me feel extremely guilty. But I hesitate even writing that going back to work was easy because I feel like I am betraying my team - the working moms team. I feel like there is this underlying competition between the stay at home moms vs. the working moms. Each side trying to convince the world that their lot is harder. And me saying that going back to work was easier than I expected suggests that it is easier than being at home. But how ridiculous!!!! How ridiculous that either party needs to prove to the world that being a mom is hard. But anyway that brings guilt. Guilt that I have enjoyed going back to my normal life. Probably the second happiest moment of 2016 so far was walking back into the gym and my workout class on an early Tuesday morning. (Obviously number 1 was seeing Brad for the first time.) But still.... I feel guilty that I like having my life back. That my whole identity doesn't revolve around Brad like it did for those 6 weeks. And that brings the guilt. I feel like Brad is our new pet that we keep around when we want him and we send him away when he's inconvenient. (Obviously that's not completely true or else I would have got a heck of a lot more sleep last night....) But still I feel guilt.
Then I see cute professional photo sessions done with new borns and feel guilty I didn't do that. Or I read that newborns are supposed to get at least 3 5 minute sessions of tummy time every day and I haven't done that!!! Or I don't even have a cute outfit for Brad to wear at his baby blessing on Saturday! What kind of mother am I? (I kinda am kidding.... but seriously, this guilt! It can eat you alive.)
I should have known this pressure was coming back when I was pregnant. I found it quite odd when people started asking me about my "birth plan". I quickly learned that means whether I am going to have an epidural or not. It is a really peculiar thing when you think about it. Why in the world does it matter if a woman receives an epidural during labor to anyone else besides the mother and possibly her poor husband if she chooses not to? It's not like we ask someone before knee surgery, "What kind of pain meds will be prescribed and how often will you take them?" Once again there are two very opinionated camps when it comes to epidurals. There are the victorious heros that act like they won the super bowl by not using any pain meds during labor and the guilty "wimpy" moms that feel the need to justify why they had an epidural. WHY DOES IT FREAKING MATTER??? But I have learned this is the beginning of the mom guilt...
(Obviously I am in the wimpy mom club so I feel the need to suggest there is no need to talk about it. If I was in the victorious hero club I would want to tell everyone)
When I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago, this was the main guilt I had felt. But now as I am sitting on my couch holding my RSV and pink eye stricken baby at 3:30 in the morning, I have new guilt - the sick baby guilt. In the 10 days of being in a daycare my poor little 6 week old came down with both pink eye and RSV. What kind of mother doesn't at least find a day care that wouldn't give her infant pink eye???? Clearly not this one.
Then there is the nursed baby vs. the formula fed baby. The disposable diapers vs. the cloth diapers. The only chemical free soaps vs. the cheapest soaps we can find. The 21 day fix moms vs. the just trying to get through the day with some chocolate moms. The list goes on and on and on and on. I am sorry if I am giving any woman out there anxiety just talking about all the pressure moms feel.
But it's just nuts the pressure. And obviously the answer is easy. Just let it go. Don't care. Don't let the pressure eat you alive. But that my friends is a lot easier said than done.