Monday, September 15, 2008

Mom Guilt

A little while back we spent some time with my parents in Michigan. Morning Star Cafe (Grand Haven, MI) is one of my favorite breakfast spots. It's full of local flavor, has a very down-to-earth type of feel, and amazing food. It is usually a special treat for me to go. One of the last days we were there, my mom, Evee and I went for breakfast.

Evee is usually okay at restaurants (and by "okay" I mean normal - has her moments and wants to get up and run around, but isn't having a complete meltdown). This particular morning, though, she sat just for a minute with the color stuff I'd brought for her, but then wanted to roam around. My mom and I, on the other hand, wanted to enjoy our time together and the food. I took her outside a couple of times as we waited for our food, but eventually thought, this is silly - I'd like to be talking with my mom. When the food arrived I put her in the highchair, but she was getting pretty upset and there were a lot of people there. I kept chickening out and finally my mom said that it would be fine if we just got to go boxes and ate it at home. As pathetic as it sounds, in the moment it felt like the best option. When you feel like you're losing it with your child, but there are a ton of people, you just start getting nervous and think about how to get out of the situation.

We asked our server for to go boxes, but she and another server (who were so nice) just told us to stay and that people would deal with a crying child for a bit and one explained that her son always screamed for a bit and then was fine. The owner brought over some potatoes and fruit specifically for her. So...we put Evee into her seat and I was thinking, yeah, this is how it should be...I'm the mom after all and we wanted to enjoy breakfast here. Well, at least 10 minutes and a lot of dirty looks later she seemed to be settling down. She ate a bit but I don't even know if she wanted to. In the end, I did feel that it was the better decision and a learning experience for both her and I.

By the time we got home it was time for her nap. She took a surprising long nap. As I went to get her, I smelled something in the hallway. As I opened the door, the sweet girl is standing in her pack 'n play with her blanket, pointing to the mattress and there was puke all over her bed and some on the floor. I'm wondering if she even throw up at the beginning of her nap and just slept in it because she felt so sick. She ended up being sick for about a week. Needless to say, all my okay feelings of us having learned lessons that morning totally went out the door. Instead, I felt like a terrible mom who made her kid sit still and eat when she really felt sick.

To save this post from being much longer than it already is, I'll just finish with saying that I've been thinking a lot about mom guilt this past summer. By mom guilt I mean feeling like you should be doing something different or better or like someone else. I think if we all could relax a bit with mothering, go with some of our natural instincts and encouragement from friends while realizing that we are all in the journey together, we'd feel a lot less guilt.

My desire is to post a series of interviews in the next weeks and months. I'm hoping to interview moms at the many stages of life - new moms, stay at home moms (SAHM), working at home moms (WAHM), moms that work outside of the home full or part time, moms that home school, and maybe even women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant. I thought it would be great to hear from different perspectives and maybe realize that no matter how we chose to run our homes and no matter what our families look like, there is a lot behind it all that is the same. I'll also interview moms on practical helps in areas like organizing and meal planning, but this is not to make anyone to feel like they aren't doing something good enough, but to just to help make life simpler. I'm excited and hope that we all learn a lot, judge less, and be freed up in the choices we make!


  1. Guilt? I have no idea what you're talking about. He he he!

    Yeah, mom guilt can be pretty intense. I find that I experience it more when I'm placing the needs (or what I think are the needs) of others before my family or myself at times.

    I can't wait for your future posts on this topic!


  2. Thanks! Yeah, I'm excited. I've connected with some women on the organizing, meal planning, and working out of the home areas. I'm trying to space it out before I contact more women, but am obviously excited to get answers from them in the different areas:). Everyone has been super nice so far and very willing to answer questions that would be helpful to other women! I love that we can learn from one another and hopefully become more gracious with each other and ourselves. And, thanks for processing all this with me since the summer :).

  3. If I could count the times as a young mom that I heard this phrase run through my head, "I'm not a good mom!"... actually I wouldn't want to know. Unfortunately, I think the mom guilt you speak of is universal. We have this inner desire to care for and nurture our children, yet the pull to achieve, do "greater things," have a career, keep our own interests going, have value outside of the home, all seem to collide with one another. It's all good things, just knowing what to set on the shelf for later and what to pull off for now.

    As a mom who is done raising her kids (4 of them), I'm discovering that there is lots of life left after children :).

  4. I too have had the "babe barf" in the restaurant, the failure to notice that "this time was different," the myriad of times where I (the adult) lost my temper and had the child with a "broken spirit" moment - all of this, and so much more has made me consistently fight another wave of nausea of the motherhood rollercoaster that comes when you wonder if you're "in over your head" (regardless of how often the thrill of the ride still trumps in the end...!)
    So in those moments, I simply amuse myself with a phrase that has always been helpful to have heard a friend long ago say, "that will be (fill in the blank) session(s) of therapy I'll have to pay for...!" and I try once again to remind myself not to take it all too seriously so that I lose sight of the most important method for actually avoiding the need for my child to ever have therapy sessions at my expense - and that is to recover the moment well (after all, what our kids really want from us is to just "fix it and make it all better"...right?)

    because it matters,