Monday, February 11, 2013

Mommy guilt, it sucks, and it will continue to suck the longer you nurse it.

...and therefore I don't engage in it.  I said as much in a recent comment on Danielle L. Vermeer's article, Being A Mom Is Not A Job, But It Is Hard Work for Role/Reboot.

Have you ever googled "mommy guilt"?  Helpful and well educated experts are willing to give you hundreds upon thousands of tips on how to rid yourself of mommy guilt. 

I remember the first time I felt real guilt over my parenting abilities.  Except for a couple blinks in my subconcious, it was also the last. 

My oldest child was four years old.  We were renting the basement of a house and another couple lived up on the top floor.  They had bought an expensive shiny new barbecue and put it out under the large covered patio we shared.  They hadn't even had a chance to use it yet when my son went outside to play and promptly filled the bottom of cooker with dirt, covering the gas burners.  My boy hadn't even been out more than ten minutes!  Our neighbor came to my door angry and my heart dropped down through my guts and ran out from between my toes.  Lucky for us it was an easy clean up and there was no damage, but what kind of mother was I?  Not watching him more closely when he played?  Not telling him not to touch it?  Not reiterating where to play in the dirt and not play in the dirt? 

Then I realized that I'm the kind of mother that has a kid that has done something wrong, did the utmost to fix that wrong along with my child to the best of his abilities, disciplined my child because he knew what he'd done was naughty, and the kind of mom that made my son apologize for his actions.  I'm the kind of mom that showed my son I was disappointed and angry and then was firmly compassionate when it came time to take care of business.  I was the kind of mom that warned of what would happen if he did it again and then followed through on just that when he did it again.

In other words, normal kid, normal mom.  This was the business of raising my kid to adulthood.

So I put the guilt to bed.  You could close up kids in a padded room, with the cleanest clothes, the most educational toys, the healthiest foods and the most predictable of schedules and what you will still have is kids being kids and you being you being their mom, with guilt or without.

Ever wonder why you suffer from that guilt?  Or a better question, why you don't put that guilt to bed?

Ever consider that suffering from mommy guilt is fashionable?  As fashionable as those awful baby leg warmers?  What was wrong with warming baby's legs with pants I ask?    It's not enough that baby socks just fall off but now you've got whole leg thingamabobs drooping and then falling off.  No one blinks at a baby wearing one sock but a baby wearing one leg warmer looks injured.  Nosy women in the grocery store are going to ask what happened to your baby.

Oh, and if you are a mommy that likes leg warmers, and you've purchased several pair, and you think my opinion is ridiculous...well good!  Your baby, your right to put leg warmers on it.  My opinion shouldn't make you second guess yourself in any way.  Nor should the weird look the grocery store woman gives you.   Besides, I just covered my babies in Crisco and dryer lint to keep them warm and I felt fine about it.

Yes, mommy guilt is in style and like I said in my comment on the article, it's fed by religion, politics and commercialism.  In the coming days I'd like to explore mommy guilt a little bit and why I came to the conclusion that when it comes to me and my family, it's an emotional response about as useful as snail trained to play fetch.

Or as useful as a barbecue full of dirt.

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