As a parent, do you ever feel guilty for the choices you make? (Cue chirpy Sally Struthers voice: Sure, we all do!) But do you ever feel guilty about NOT feeling guilty as a parent? It sounds silly -- like a waste of time and energy, and also like some sort of useless glitch in the motherhood Matrix -- but reverse Mom guilt is an actual thing now.
Reverse Mom guilt, as described by this article on Today.com, is triggered by the fact that good mothers are supposed to feel guilty about almost everything in our pursuit of parental perfection ... but there are times when we relish our supposedly guilt-inducing decisions without feeling bad about it.
Instead, we feel a little bad about, you know, NOT feeling bad.
I'm not unfamiliar with this phenomenon. I remember when I was getting ready to go back to work after my second son was born, and people would ask if I was dreading the end of my maternity leave. Because of course I was, right? Who could possibly look forward to leaving a life of staying home with a 3-month-old baby in favor of putting on heels and going to meetings and writing bone-dry press releases?
Uh, me, that's who. I'm not saying the transition to daycare wasn't challenging, but having experienced two maternity leaves, I was eager to get back to work. And I felt sort of guilty about not feeling more guilty.
I sometimes still feel that way about food. My kids aren't the healthiest eaters in the world, and I wonder if I should feel worse about it, and work harder to get them to break out of their macaroni-and-cheese rut. I decided a long time ago that food wasn't the hill I was going to die on, but occasionally I wonder: shouldn't I be more guilty about the fact that my kids' meals mostly come from boxes?
One mom who's a clinical psychologist and a nanny consultant says that guilt and reverse guilt are both common among mothers these days. She gives the same advice to moms who are burdened by guilt -- for being away from their families in order to work, say -- and those who feel bad for not feeling more guilt:
Identify that it’s OK to feel the emotion, whatever it is. But then here's the tricky part: work on letting it go, so you can be present in the moment.
Whether you're at the office, getting some time for yourself, or just choosing your TV/food/whatever battles, we all have different needs and different situations. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting, despite what many Internet comment sections would have you believe.
For most moms, I don't think there's any way to escape guilty feelings. It just seems to be part of the job, regardless of how unhelpful and unpleasant it is. But there's often comfort to be found in the fact that we all deal with the same burdens, don't you think? I'm glad to know that reverse Mom guilt exists, because it means I'm not the only dumbass who sometimes worries that she's not worrying ENOUGH.
Do you get 'reverse Mom guilt' sometimes -- and if so, what's it typically about?
Image via Linda Sharps