War on Guilt

It's been a while since I wrote a blog post about anything of substance, and I'll just warn you now: I'm running on fatigued, emotionally unbalanced pregnant brain.  (Case in point: I bought tickets to Wicked at 3:00 a.m. a couple weeks ago when I couldn't sleep.  Thought I was putting them on a credit card.  Found out later that I made the purchase with a debit card without enough money in the account........three more purchases, a few phone calls and hefty fees later, I fixed it.  ARGHHH.)
Actually, I've been more emotionally unstable the last couple months than ever before.  I'm thinking it's a combination of hormones and the weather that forces me to stay cooped up inside with two little ones for days on end.  We see less of Slice now, although his workweek is now five days long instead of eight, and I haven't left the Basin in two months.  Thanks for asking.

Anyway, the topic of discourse this evening is something I've mulled over for at least a year now:  Mom Guilt.  The all-pervasive, inevitable plague that falls upon a woman the instant she conceives, supposedly determining every choice she makes from then on.
Keyword "supposedly."

Here's the thing - I don't suffer from it.  And I don't understand why so many women do.

I read posts about women choosing to stay home with children despite pressure to work; women working despite pressure to stay home; women "being brave enough" to say that they have a hard time staying home; moms exercising/not exercising to keep their figures/sanity; parents saying they don't love parenting all the time; people saying "you don't have to be perfect!" and I think ..... well, duh.  You didn't need to tell me that.

I know I'm a good mom; I don't feel pressure to be perfect.  I know what I am doing is worthwhile.  Hard and exhausting, brain-sucking, menial, occasionally infuriating, yes.  But still worthwhile.
I let my babies cry it out.  I feed them cow's milk before a year old.  I don't keep their carseats rear-facing for two years.  Sometimes I yell at them.  Sometimes I let them have too much screen time.  Sometimes I let them drink pop.  Sometimes I say "no" just to say it.  I don't feel guilty about any of these things, and I don't need anyone to tell me not to feel guilty about them.  Also, go ahead and try the opposite approach!

Have you noticed that the people feeling judged most are usually the ones doing the most judging? Women can be so dramatic.  Not me, though.  You actually have to try to offend me.  Just like Eleanor Roosevelt said "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent," I submit that no one can make you feel guilty without your consent.

So, mothers (and everyone else), STOP giving your consent!  If you feel guilty about what you're doing, stop doing it!  But if the worst thing you're doing is feeding your kids boxed mac & cheese for dinner, then you're doing fine so stop feeling guilty about it.  Your guilty feelings are contributing to their future unhappiness because they've grown up in a perfect world with impossible expectations.  And because, as we all know, parents are to blame for all their kids' failures.

All of this is to say Stop the Guilt. Stop taking offense when no offense was intended.  The so-called Mommy Wars would be over if we all stopped adding fuel to the fire.  Let's love each other and love our decisions, and sing Kumbaya in a big circle while holding hands.  Seriously.


Linnea said...

I love this so much. " I don't feel guilty about any of these things, and I don't need anyone to tell me not to feel guilty about them." and " I submit that no one can make you feel guilty without your consent." are perfect.

And not just with mommy issues - I think it is something that is pushed on all women. Getting married, not getting married, getting married young, having children young, not having children, having children later in life, etc. etc. etc. Have you seen the speech the college student makes where she says something about how she asked 5 questions in class today, and everyone of them started with the word, "Sorry," ?? That struck such a cord with me - we are sort of conditioned to apologize for our choices, for our lack of knowledge, etc.

I could go on and on. But I'll stop now.

Jean said...

YES!! That video! Perfectly encapsulated what it feels like to be a woman in the modern world, second-guessing every step we take. The worst part is that (I think) women do it to each other more than anything. Mothers, non-mothers, every type of woman.
It just all needs to end.

Sarah Garcia said...

SUCH a good article! You make such a good point. I definitely needed to be reminded of this :)

now-self said...

You had me at "Mom Guilt - I don't have it."

I don't have it either. Yes, I'm constantly being judged by other women (including my mother and sisters, bah!) and no, it doesn't bother me.