As a new mom, there are two emotions that consume me: unconditional love for my daughter, and unending guilt over all the ways I’m probably screwing everything up. That last part may sound dramatic, but that’s how my mom brain works now (or maybe it’s just hormones). There’s something to feel guilty about almost every second of the day. Some examples:
Working. Need I even say more? My baby throws a little shade at me every night when I get home, as if to remind me that she’s not pleased with my absence, and that I better be earmarking a significant portion of my paycheck for toys.
Eating. I always feel a bit like it’s self-indulgent to sit down and actually have a meal, as if all that time spent chewing is time that could be spent playing with my little one.
Sleeping. I can’t really function on anything less than 6 hours a night, but I feel like a huge slacker whenever I actually get that very necessary amount.
Breathing. I came down with a cold recently and I felt terrible about releasing my germs into her airspace.
Not entertaining her every waking minute. I’m pretty sure that she’s actually sick of me constantly waving toys in her face and telling her how cute she is, but I still feel that twinge of guilt whenever I decide to let her do her own thing for a bit.
Wanting a night away. Not actually taking a night away, mind you. Just wanting one.
I know that in actuality, I’m most likely doing a fine job as a mom. My girl is healthy and happy, and as far as I know no one’s ever called the authorities on me. But I think that as parents, our love and our guilt are inextricably linked. We care so deeply about our children’s well-being that everything else is pushed to the back of our minds. Any moment of time or amount of energy expended on anything but our kids can feel wasted.
But the thing I’ve come to realize (though I’m still trying to internalize it) is that time spent feeling guilty doesn’t make me a better parent. It doesn’t balance out any of my faults, and it doesn’t motivate me. It’s the opposite of all that, and it’s completely unproductive.
Most importantly, feeling guilty takes me away from living in the moment and distracts me from appreciating just how quickly kids grow up. It would be a shame to let these days slip away without relishing them simply because I was too busy lamenting my imperfections. So I’m going to make a greater effort to stop doing that, because I don’t want the best time of my life to be mired in negativity. Letting that happen would be something to really feel guilty about.
About the Author
Kristina Johnson is a new mom, writer, and TV producer living in New York City. She loves her little girl madly but can admit that she wouldn’t mind if babies came with an off button. Her interests include, Netflix, books, and fending off awkward questions about when she’s having baby number 2. You can check out her blog at thatmommylady.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.