Mom guilt seems to be the buzzword of our times, and we’ve all had our fair share of it as parents.
It is a feeling of not doing enough as a parent, and collectively, we’ve done a great job of creating a monster out of it.
It’s relentless and cruel, I admit, but it does have a different side—a side that no one is talking about. We are so caught up with its cruelties that we dare not see what lays beyond; I am no exception.
But now, as I have evolved as a parent, I see it differently. I have been fortunate to see the other face of mom guilt. I notice that it has offered me nuggets of wisdom along my parenting journey.
On the outside, it looks and feels ugly like a feeling or emotion that makes us feel bad and guilty. But if you dare to investigate deeper, you will find an invitation to change. It is like a signal, an intuition within us, that something needs changing, that we are going on the wrong path or something is amiss.
Matt Licata, psychotherapist and author of the book, The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Hidden Jewels Within You, talks about all feelings as invitations to be explored. He says that all feelings are intrinsic and essential parts of the human experience.
They come not to harm but to reveal. They are not obstacles to the path, but the path itself.
In society, we label these things as wrong and hence resist interacting with them. He suggests opening a line of communication and having an open dialogue with the emotion. We don’t have to do whatever it says (fuse with it), nor should we resist it and treat it like an ogre who wants to have us for lunch.
We can engage with our feelings by journaling or talking to them as a friend and asking what they want from us—what they have to say.
It may come out harsh initially, for we’ve been treating our emotions like an underdog for a long time. As we begin to rekindle the relationship, we allow a pathway for wisdom to come to us . We can give ourselves a listening ear and do what feels right for us as much as possible, honoring ourselves in the process.
With time, as we develop a healthy relationship with ourselves, with boundaries in place, we will know faster what is right and what needs to be done and when. It is like a muscle that gets honed with regular use and is best used without brute force.
If we treat our emotions with respect, love, and kindness, we will enjoy the results that we gain in return. It may be difficult at first because most suggestions invite us to change, rock the boat, ruffle feathers, change the status quo, and threaten the reptilian part of our brain that loves safety.
Here are nine transformations that mom guilt has brought me:
Gaining Clarity: It gave me clarity on what I wanted to be as a parent. It made me realize that I did not want to be a zombie mom trying to be superwoman and exhaust myself. I wanted to spend time with my children and enjoy them. Working with a corporate lifestyle was impossible. It made me realize that I did not want to be a machine and work on autopilot.
Gaining Courage: It gave me the courage to take chances, draw the line with employers, and quit when it was time to let go.
Making Better Career Choices: It helped me switch careers from banking to teaching and allowed me to enjoy the best of both worlds. It taught me to think outside the box and seek work that suited my needs, rather than the other way around.
Being Human: It taught me to be a human and that I don’t have to be a superhero. I don’t have to stretch myself thin and overdo everything and burn out. It’s okay if I goof up in motherhood. I can apologize and forgive myself.
Accepting Help: I’ve learned that it’s okay to ask for help.
Making Time for Rest: I made time for myself for rest and rejuvenation. A happy mom is a more present mom and hence a more accepting person.
The Power of Influence as a Parent: I became a role model and a powerful influence in my children’s lives, and they subconsciously learned from me, so my choices taught them more than other forms of learning (when they were old enough, I gave up teaching and went back to the career I loved).
Improving the Quality of Life: I made time for the things that I loved and that nurtured me. I currently enjoy writing blogs for myself and for publication. I also read, journal, exercise, and many other activities that continue to nourish me.
Accepting the Kids as they Are: I’ve allowed my children to be themselves and not what I want them to be.
So, the next time you want to put the blame on mom guilt, I invite you to look with an open heart and mind, befriend it, and make it your ally. Ask for the underlying and innate wisdom.
Try not to treat it as the gospel truth or the big bad wolf out to devour grandma, but an inner middle that is part of who we are.
Please take its helpful guidance.