Mommy-guilt isn’t a new concept to anyone. If you’ve been a mother, you’ve experienced Mom-guilt. If you know a mother, you know about Mom-guilt. It is pretty much understood that by having the extraordinary responsibility to raise exceptional human beings, a parent is going to feel less than suitable for the position every once in a while.
But, I have to tell you, my Mom-guilt has been on overdrive since having a second kid.
I have been saying “One minute, sweetie” and “Just wait, please” to the toddler far too many times.
I have left the baby crying for much longer than I ever did his big brother.
I have reacted harshly to the slightest infractions.
My normal tone of voice has changed from a positive disposition to constant exasperation.
My time has been divided between two kids.
I put the kids to bed in the evening and take a deep breath and realize that I was not the Mom I wanted to be that day.
I was impatient. I was frustrated. I was stressed. I was frazzled. I was short. I was exasperated. I was selfish. I was angry.
I wasn’t patient. I wasn’t gentle. I wasn’t calm. I wasn’t peaceful. I wasn’t kind. I wasn’t self-less. I wasn’t positive.
I wasn’t as loving as I wanted to be.
I have this image of the perfect Mother. It is the woman I strive to be. She is primarily devoted to her husband. She ensures he feels completely loved while together they care for their children and their home. She somehow finds time to make each of her children feel special while simultaneously keeping up with chores, maintaining her spiritual duties, and contributing to the household income. She even looks lovely all the time.
She is perfect. She is beautiful. She is superwoman.
She is what my family deserves.
She is completely unattainable.
The other day I was getting ready to take the boys to the grocery store. I looked in the mirror and sighed. The woman reflected wasn’t one I was proud to show off in public. But it would have to do. I put a headband over my day-old-hair and turned to my two-year-old to get him out the door.
He took one look at me and exclaimed “Mama’s a princess!”
His little eyes took in his Mommy in a headband and didn’t see 45 unwanted pounds, unwashed hair, and clothes that didn’t fit. He saw his Mommy with flowers in her hair. He saw royalty. He saw beauty.
I set myself such a high bar. I have such immeasurable love for these people in my life and I just want to be all that they deserve. But my unrealistic expectations for myself simply lead to failure. And guilt.
But what if I looked at myself through the eyes of my boys? What if instead of a mother who can’t do everything all at once, I see the Mama who makes the baby smile as soon as she looks at him? What if I see the Mama who shares tickles with the toddler? What if I see the Mama who tells expressive stories and sings multiple lullabies before bed? What if I see the Mama who wakes up hour upon hour in the night to comfort and sustain a little growing person?
If I look through their eyes, I see a good woman who does whatever she can for her boys. I see a good Mom. I see love.
I see nothing to feel guilty about.
I see a princess.
I see the Mom I want to be.
And it only took a toddler’s fairy tale imagination to teach me this.