Almost every day I meet a fellow momma struggling with the work/life/family balance and also having a serious internal battle with “mommy guilt.”
We’ve become a culture of mommy guilt. Actually, if you don’t have it, something is wrong with you!
With limitless opportunities for personal and professional growth, and also with more responsibilities at home as we move away from our extended family and other helping hands in pursuit of our passions and dreams, balance can be hard to achieve.
When we are imbalanced, feelings of guilt and shame and fear begin to surface.
Somewhere along the line, I heard the phrase, in guilt, there is no growth.
I recite this line to myself when I am telling my kids to sit down for a few minutes while I write down my thoughts, or when I leave the house to go to teach a class and I see my two small boys with their big brown eyes stare at me as they ask, When will you be back?
Many times I’ve left the house, sat in my car and wondered about going back inside. I’ve almost gone back inside, thinking, By leaving home, somehow I’m abandoning my little ones. I am leaving them in the hands of some unknown, non-blood relative who plays with them for hours, loves them and reads to them.
I could go back inside, but if I did, I would love my children, play with them and read to them, but not be completely present. I’d be thinking about the article I didn’t write or the class I didn’t teach.
That’s not fair to anyone.
So, I leave, and I recite the line, In guilt, there is no growth.
In guilt, there is no book written. Guilt sucks up our creative energy and keeps us in a place where we are unable to move forward—artistically, professionally or personally. In guilt, there is no passion or self-discovery. It is a place of stagnant energy. In guilt, there is no presence—no presence during our personal pursuits, in moments as a parent or when we wear our various hats as a multitasking human being.
Guilt is a stifling, self-inflicted feeling we endure, embrace, cultivate and allow to control our lives.
We should be spending more time with our families. We should be sitting down and having family dinners together every night. We should be somewhere else or doing something more.
If we should, then we would.
The greatest gift I believe I can give my children is a satisfied, happy, guilt-free mother. As I tell my children today to follow their dreams, I must take my own advice and follow mine—free of guilt.
Author: Ashley Martinez
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: London Scout/Unsplash