Just When I Thought There Could Be No More Guilt

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Modern mothers hold themselves accountable for a lot: the kids, the career, the dishes. We feel responsible for a lot as well. The kids are acting out;work is piling up; the laundry is piling up just as much as work. Not only do we hold ourselves responsible for our own actions and our own bodies, but we also feel at least partly responsible for the actions of our children (especially the younger ones). You may even feel partly responsible for your husband, too.

I have a not so fond memory of leaving a photography family mini session and passing by the next family, all wearing perfectly color-coordinated fall-themed outfits. I felt guilty that we weren’t so put together (and by not put together I mean there was Cheeto dust on my daughter’s cheek). I had not even considered matching our outfits as a family…I was just happy my outfit matched and we all had on clean clothes. I had not considered the timing of the photography session and with fall just around the corner, we would be getting the photos back just in time for a perfectly paired Pumpkin Spice themed family outfit. I felt guilty I didn’t have the same color coordinated theme or a plaid scarf.

Just When I Thought There Could Be No More GuiltJust when you think there couldn’t be any more guilt…

This isn’t an article about mom-shaming each other; that mom just walked past me on her way to beautiful fall family photos. It’s about piling the unnecessary guilt onto ourselves just so we can then have guilt about not doing enough self-care. And just when you think you don’t have enough guilt, cue Covid.

Pressure mounts once you don’t just feel guilty for being late to pre-k class, but now there is no class, no school…just you and the homeschool tools you found on the internet. Now you carry the weight of homeschool guilt. I partner it with guilt that my child is not gaining the social skills she needs at her age. Work is still piling up, more now than ever without childcare, so guilt mounts on the professional side as well. The house is a mess, so add on all the associated guilt trips: laundry guilt, dishes guilt, dust guilt. I’ve almost completely killed my patio ferns, so now we can add in fern guilt.

I try to battle the guilt trips first by refusing to buy into them in the first place. I didn’t need to have scarf guilt when our family photos were not in a fall theme. That doesn’t always work, so I try to simplify things and prioritize things and accomplish things, but that doesn’t always work either. A recent blog I listened to gave the best advice so far and that is to reframe how you think about things. Instead of, “Why did this happen to me?” think “This happened for me.” 

Maybe I shouldn’t feel guilt for having my daughter with me almost all the time now. Maybe this happened for me. Maybe I will look back and be grateful for all the extra time I get to spend with her. Maybe I shouldn’t feel guilt that I didn’t shop for fall outfits for our family photos. Maybe that happened for me because I was too stressed at the time and wouldn’t have been able to make the shopping trip happen. Maybe I shouldn’t feel guilty that I accidentally killed my ferns…no wait, I still feel badly about that.

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