How To Let Go Of Mommy Guilt
We all struggle with feelings of inadequacy, but in the postpartum period, the sudden transition to motherhood can amplify these experiences. Intensified by physical and emotional change, our vulnerabilities and shortcomings seem to be laid bare for the entire world to see.
Influence of Social Media
When you add social media to the mix, this creates a dangerous recipe for disaster. As a new mom, you may find it difficult to get out of bed everyday, let alone shower, do your make-up, prepare something decent to eat, or even run a quick errand. All too easily to we get trapped in cycle of comparing ourselves to what others are doing, then feeling inadequate when we don’t measure up to this artificial standard we’ve imposed on ourselves. We see other mothers who seem much more put together or who are happily playing with their children or enjoying motherhood seemingly carefree. As a new mother who may feel like you are in the trenches, this can trigger the mom guilt, causing you to question, “Why can’t I be like that?”, “I’m not good enough”, “I must be a terrible mom”, etc.
The reality is that social media creates an unrealistic portrayal of life, and sometime we get so caught up in other people’s lives that we forget about living in the present and for the ones we love. Having the “if-then” attitude can only further perpetuate feelings of guilt or inadequacy, such as, “If I only had [blank], I would be happy”. This is a dangerous form of thinking that can quickly bury us in a hole of discontent for the life we have been give.
It’s also important to remember that most people will put forward their best food on social media to give a perception that may not be entirely true. So be mindful of how much time you are spending on your social platforms as well as how your attitude changes. If you find yourself feeling more negative about yourself and your circumstances after being on social media, this is likely a good indicator that this is not a healthy thing for you at this time. You might even consider taking a small hiatus from social media and investing more time in yourself, your family, and the real life friendships you currently have. These types of steps can be helpful in building your self-esteem, confidence, and the overall skill of practicing gratitude where you are today.
Adjusting Your Expectations
Another source of overwhelming mom guilt is unrealistic expectations. Holding ourselves to unreasonable standards inevitability causes us to feel guilty. For example, if you’ve told yourself you will bounce back to that pre-baby body within a few months, and when a few months have gone by without meeting this goal you’ve set in your mind, you will start to feel guilty about a perceived lack of progress. Cue the negative feelings like regret, shame, and frustration.
Remember, the process of becoming a mother is a life-altering experience, for which you are likely not totally prepared. The reality is that NO ONE is completely prepared for this change, and there are many things you will go through that you could not have anticipated. Be willing to give yourself grace and openness to the idea that you are learning through this process. Going through your experiences in early motherhood with the perception that you are learning can change your mindset to one that is more positive in nature. Mistakes are not shortcomings or reflective of you as a bad mom. These are experiences from which we learn, grow wiser, and mature as parents and adults.
Finding the Positive
Feeling overwhelmed, both physically and emotionally, can quickly send you through a downward spiral at the slightest of triggers. Be cognizant of this and realize that certain things may make you feel more vulnerable to guilt, like being sleep-deprived, hungry, or feeling isolated. When you better understand your potential triggers, you can better rationalize through an episode of intense mom guilt and learn to let go of circumstances that you might not necessarily be able to control.
At the end of the day, we are all moms who love our children more than anything in the world. We are all trying our best, and this looks different for everyone. Keeping your eyes on your path while encouraging those in the lanes next to you can help support you through days where you may feel inadequate, isolated, or guilt. Let go and breathe in freedom that comes with grace for today.