Have you ever experienced mom guilt – that feeling that you aren’t quite good enough and that you are failing your children? Have you ever felt like you are losing yourself in motherhood because of it? I’ve felt like that, and it nearly crushed me.
I’ve been the mom lost in her own thoughts wondering if she was good enough, was doing enough, was qualified enough, and was doing a good enough job as a mom. The thought of failing my children terrified me. The thought of my children for even a second wondering if they were loved, because they were being raised by a single parent. Thoughts that kept me hostage and, at times, unable to move forward. These feelings of guilt and shame were mentally exhausting and also impacted me financially. I felt like I had to love my children times two, buy them gifts times two, and give them amazing experiences times two. I did this because I didn’t believe that I was enough, so I desired to prove to them that they were loved.
For about three years, I stopped working because I wanted to pour into my children to prove to them just how much I loved them. Plus, I needed to finally give myself the much-needed relief from pretending like I was okay on my blog and on social media with smiling pictures and empowering messages when I was drowning in feelings of unworthiness, shame, and financial stress. I needed time to breathe and to figure out who I was –Aisha the woman – and not just the Aisha defined by her resume, or Aisha the mom.
For a while, I felt so guilty saying it out loud. I felt so guilty saying that I needed to rediscover myself, because to me, saying that meant I didn’t love my children. In my mind, saying that I wanted to be me as well as a phenomenal mom felt like another form of abandonment.
Messages of guilt and condemnation ran through my mind that reinforced that rediscovering me meant I didn’t love my children and that my children would have two parents who didn’t want them. So instead, I constantly felt torn apart – in one sense desiring to be me and to have my own dreams that also included being an amazing mother to my children, while at the same time believing that motherhood meant martyrdom. The only way to be a good mom was to martyr myself, losing my own name to be known only as the mom of my children, martyr my dreams, martyr wearing clean clothes or to shower, or martyr my dreams, because anything less than being 100% present for my children, in my mind, meant I didn’t love my children and I would fail them.
Even as I began to realize that being an amazing mom meant caring for myself and loving myself, and showing my children that they could achieve their dreams and be anything they wanted to be because they saw me doing it, I still felt bad. Even as I realized caring for myself well would give my children permission to care for themselves well, I still felt bad. Even though I knew loving myself would show my children how to love themselves well and how to never settle for less than true love from another person, I still felt bad.
However, one day, I collapsed after I put my twins to bed and I was preparing for the next day. That moment was a wake-up call to me that something needed to change. I couldn’t continue to operate the way I was going. Loving me and caring for me meant I was loving my children. My children needed to see a healthy me. Therefore, I gave myself permission to pour into myself and to rediscover who I was. After I did that, I grew stronger and also healthier. It allowed me to show up for my children more fully.
Therefore, if you are suffering over the burden of mom guilt, then let this be the day that you give yourself permission to let it go. Love yourself and your children enough to heal and to let the guilt and shame go, and if necessary rediscover who you are. Know that you are an amazing mom and pouring into you so you can be healthy will never change that.
Please leave a comment to let me know how this helps you.