You may or may not have heard of this before or never paid too much attention to it. And why would you? Unless you've experienced it personally, there's really no need to care too much about it. As a new mom, everything is a new experience. Even things you've done your whole life are completely different now that you're a mom. And inevitably, someone, anyone, will try and make you feel guilty about the way you do things.
My goal in writing this is not to put anyone down but merely to educate and give others a different perspective about this sensitive issue.
So let's first go through the types of mom guilt that I've come across. Now when I say "guilt", I'm referring to other people voicing their comments to in turn try to make you feel guilty for your actions. You moms out there know what I mean…
1. The stay at home guilt– whether you decide to stay home permanently, a year or a few months, you should never, I repeat, never feel guilty for it. It's a decision to be made by you and your spouse, if you have one, and no one else. I have a hard time with this one since I'm currently staying home with my baby, who's about to turn one next week. I have definitely felt the guilt for this one. Whether it's someone saying "wow you got to stay home that long! I had to go back to work after 6 weeks!" Or "what do you do all day? I mean babies sleep a lot right?" Or even your spouse who may not entirely understand everything that goes into being a stay at home mom. Add in the "wife" duties like dinner and laundry and cleaning….it can take your sanity and throw it right out the window. In fact, I find myself so delirious at times that I become easily aggravated and short tempered. I can't help it. I can't control it. It just bubbles out of me. Every other day I feel like what I'm doing doesn't matter to anyone, when in reality it's one of the hardest and most important jobs anyone can have. Raising a child is hard and not just raising any child but a well adjusted, decent and nice human being. I'm not throwing shade on working moms. I'll be one soon and we all know them and love them (see #2 below 👇🏽) and I know not everyone is able to stay home. Lots of moms have to go back to work sooner because of the enormous financial impact having kids puts on families. I consider myself and others who were able to stay home extremely lucky and I think we all know it. That doesn't, however, give others the right to project their jealousy onto the stay at home mom. I think if it came down to it, given the choice, all mothers would pick staying home with their babies for an extended amount of time over going back to work. Every. Single. Time. So until we have a health care system that enables family leave as a necessity versus a luxury, let's uplift and support our stay at home moms rather than tear them down because they can do what others can't.
2. The working mom guilt– on the flip side I know there are moms out there who feel like they should be at home with their babies. For whatever reason they can't be and they feel like they're missing out. I applaud those who juggle both, because it's hard to even get out of the house to run to the store much less get up and have to look presentable for work. Moms who work are no better or worse than those who don't. It's a choice that not everyone gets to make and it has to work for your situation. We also shouldn't feel bad for those that have to work. Lots of people don't want to stay home. They feel bored (I don't see how that's possible) or they miss their work. Whatever the reason, supporting the decision of moms and their rights to pick either option should be the only thing we talk about.
3. The breastfeeding vs. formula guilt– ok this one seems to be one that lots of moms are facing these days. I think about 50% is how you were raised and the other is random circumstances that happen once you try to nurse i.e. once you try to nurse the baby has trouble latching or there's some medical reason that hinders the natural ease of breastfeeding right at birth. In my situation, I was breastfed until I was 2, my sister nursed both her boys until they were 2 and 3 so I just assumed it would be super easy for me. Well it wasn't, and it was way more challenging than I thought and in the early days, that first week, I had to supplement with formula and I felt like the worse person in the world. Why? I have no idea. As long as your baby is eating it shouldn't matter. Well the guilt rears it's ugly head again. I abandoned my preconceived notions about formula vs. breastfeeding and came to the realization that as long as you're doing your best to make sure your baby is getting the nutrients he or she needs, don't listen to anyone else. No one should feel guilty for breastfeeding and no one should feel guilty for using formula. It's easier said than done. I know.
As a mom you do what you have to do. And I've found that things almost never go the way you planned when it comes to pregnancy and beyond.
What challenges have you faced with having a newborn? I would love to know I'm not the only one out there!