Dear Moms Suffering From Mommy Guilt,
Hi there. How you doing? You look tired. But not in a bad way! You're still very pretty. Ugh, I hate when people tell me I look tired. Sorry. What I'm trying to get at here (in a rude way, apparently) is: You look like you've been working hard as a parent. And that's a beautiful thing. But also -- it can be stressful.
When I say "stressful", I don't mean you've been running around, all harried, trying to get this one to soccer practice and that one a well-balanced meal (though, yes, that can be stressful, too). I mean stressful in the sense that you've probably been suffering from Mommy Guilt on occasion. And Mommy Guilt, in my humble opinion at least, can be the single most trying thing about parenting.
Am I doing this right? Was I at work too long? Why does that kid seem happier than mine?
Mommy Guilt. Sure, those kinds of questions are natural when you're a parent (and, to be honest, they're questions that should come up now and again). But it's Mommy Guilt nonetheless. And Mommy Guilt sucks. And you don't need it in your life anymore.
Stop. Please. Just stop. You're doing an amazing job. (Even when you feel like you're not.) It's just that damn Mommy Guilt that's got you down. That pointless emotion that seems to affect every parent (even if they're not a mommy) at some point or another.
Nobody's perfect. Not you. Not me. Not the woman everyone's dubbed "Super Mom" in your playgroup. And definitely not the gorgeous, seemingly-flawless mom blogger you religiously follow. (You have heard of PhotoShop, right?) We're all just doing the best we can. Some days we do better than others, but still. We love our children -- tremendously, ferociously, psychotically -- and that's what matters most.
So breastfeeding didn't work out for you. And? Is your child alive? Do they know how loved and cared for they are? All right, then time to move on. So your kid refuses to take a sippy cup or still isn't crawling yet (when you've been told they "should be"). Are they healthy? Are they happy? Okay, then next. A friend or family member makes a salty comment to you on something you're doing "wrong" (there's "right" and "wrong" ways to parent, didn't you know?). Find comfort in the fact that at least you're not judgmental.
You're an awesome mom (or dad). Yes, you! Don't turn around to see if I'm talking to the person standing behind you. It's you. The person who devotes pretty much their entire life to the health and well-being of your child. You're doing a great job! Stop visiting those parenting threads that exist in the seedy underbelly of mom blogs. And stop wondering about the job you're doing. You know if you're doing a good job or not. Stressing yourself out by questioning everything and constantly feeling guilty will do exactly nothing for you or your kids. In fact, it doesn't help in any aspect of your life -- your work, your marriage -- so just stop.
I realize that all this is much easier said than done, and despite being the author of this letter, I admit: I, too, suffer from mommy guilt. (I had a low-grade panic attack last week when I encountered an ungodly amount of traffic on my commute home and realized I wouldn't be able to feed my daughter dinner.) But I will say this: If you're wondering whether or not you're doing a good job -- you are. You're an awesome parent already. You're concerned that your child doesn't have the absolute best. And that alone speaks volumes.
Another Mom Who Thinks You're Great
Image via Vic Handa/Flickr