A mom and a dad are on the plane with their children seated between them. The flight attendant reminds passengers that, “In the event of a loss in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will fall…please put on your oxygen mask first before assisting others.” Dad most likely is pointing out all the cool things outside the window or setting up the iPad, giving no second thought to the instructions. Mom on the other hand is distracted by the internal conflict created by the instructions. These instructions come in direct opposition to shame’s subtle nudge that it is “selfish” to take care of yourself before you take care of your kid. Why is this?It's the dreaded, “Mom guilt.”
As a mom you are either currently battling it, conquering it, or avoiding it. It has the spontaneous ability to creep up on you at the worst time (i.e. running an extra errand while dad’s watching kids, getting your nails done, having lunch with a girlfriend, soaking in the tub, sleeping in, etc.) When you are debating if you should succumb to the enticing pressure of mom guilt and self-loathing, here are a few reasons to help reinforce your need to just say no and press on.
Model healthy self-care- Deep down moms all want the best for their kids and sometimes the best is showing them that is is ok to say no as well as take care of your own emotional, physical, mental and spiritual needs so they aren’t dependent on someone else to do that for them.
Mom with a life does not mean absent mom- Kids are not deprived or developmentally inept if mom works outside the home, has a hobby, actively involved in an organization or goes to exercise classes at the gym. Chances are those kids are more well rounded because mom has modeled being a healthy, contributing member of society and squashed the notion her world revolves around a kid.
Remove unhealthy expectations and resentment put on kids- If being the “best mom in the world” becomes your life’s mission, there can be an unhealthy amount of pressure put on the kids to be perfect so mom feels good about herself. You owe it to yourself and your relationship with them in the long run to let them be their own person and be ok with their many mistakes, bad moods, or what you deem the wrong choices for hobbies, interests, friends, careers, life partners, etc.
Mothering is a role, not an identity- Pregnancy prepares moms for a seemingly new self-less purpose (i.e. everything you eat, say, drink, do affects the baby). While this is true to some degree, mother is a role you play in life, not your full identity just like being a daughter, sister, wife, employee, boss, friend, etc. A healthy dose of attention given to all roles in life will lead to a more level headed reaction when you inevitably make a #momfail.
All the cool moms are doing it- You want your kids to have fun, maintain friends and enjoy their gifts and talents. They are more likely to do this if they see you doing it rather than just hearing you talk about it. The cool moms growing up were always the ones that did something outside the of the norm!