There's this underlying world within motherhood that lives in the minds of most mothers. Many pretend it doesn't exist. Some know others are thinking about it but say nothing. And still others may talk about it openly and compete for the title of "supermom" amongst their group of friends. It doesn't matter the approach. The result is the same. A whole boatload of guilt on top of the guilt they already inherently feel all by themselves from day one of motherhood. If you are supermom and you don't feel mommy guilt pat yourself on the back and stop reading.
I have been thinking a lot lately about the choices I make, the type of mother I am, and the mothers I am surrounded by. Women spend a great deal of time comparing themselves to other women. We do it our entire lives. Then motherhood comes and it's like the motherload (ha, ha) of exhausting comparisons. It begins the instant pregnancy occurs. Should I stop drinking caffeine? My best friend stopped and her kid is brilliant. Should I register for the $300 monitor? My house isn't that big but I'm sure I need it because all of my neighbors with kids have it. Should I have a natural childbirth? It's causing me immense amounts of anxiety just thinking about it. But it's what I should do right?
Then the baby comes and for a while there isn't necessarily the time or energy to care. But when the fog clears and the sleep gets wiped away what do you see? I suppose it depends on your view. If you are looking at a desk instead of a baby most of the time your heart may be aching while your guilt grows as things are missed. A first step here or a new word there can be like daggers in your heart. You count the hours that you spend with your child like they are little nuggets of gold. If even one is taken away you feel like it has to be replaced somewhere. You believe working and helping to support your goals and your family is the ideal for you. However, somewhere over the course of the day the guilt still creeps in.
If you are looking at that sweet angel face all day instead the guilt is a little different. It's hidden in the things you forget to do or the way you discipline your child. It sneaks up on you and then hits you across the face. You realize more frequently how much you have to learn. You hear others judge the working mom yet sometimes, in the depths of your subconscious, you envy her...and then you feel guilty for that too. You chose to stay home because you feel like it's what's best for your child. Or maybe you chose to stay home because you couldn't handle that working mom's kind of guilt.
One day maybe the image starts to change a little. The view becomes that of motherhood as a whole instead of this kind of mother or that kind of mother. You no longer see that she works or doesn't work. You see that she's just like you no matter what the circumstance. Guilt is guilt no matter how much you get paid, how often you see your child(ren), or how many times you are PTA president. You learn supermom doesn't exist. Even if she did you wouldn't want to be her. That's just too much pressure.
Instead you want to be the best version of yourself that is now mommy. And you want that for the other mommies as well. You lean on the lawyer, doctor, or teacher who goes in late at night to kiss the baby just as often as you do. You count on the ones who have been there and done that because they won't judge. You look to them as examples, as co-workers, and as confidants. But most of all you look to them as a way to believe in yourself more.
So to all you mommies out there who feel the guilt and maybe compare yourself a little too often take a step back and take a long loving look. You gave birth to that child. You do the most with the smallest amount of hours. You deserve a medal...or at the very least a reprieve from your own criticism once in a while. In my eyes you are supermom. Every. Single. One. Of. You.