The Game of Guilt

I have an unpopular opinion. I might get some flak for this one but I kind of don’t care. That’s what I’m here for.

I’m tired of this “mom guilt” business. In my opinion, guilt should be reserved for those who committed crimes or wrong doings; maybe someone who didn’t do enough or contribute enough. I don’t feel any guilt at all as a mom- for taking breaks, asking for help, doing things my own way.

I do understand why moms tend to fall into this entrapment because, quite honestly, the overall messaging we receive constantly is that we should feel guilty (directly and indirectly). We are made to feel like what we do is never enough, never good enough and there’s always a better way to do something. Even if you’re doing everything perfectly, feeling good about that is also not enough. No, we must always feel like we could have done better. And because we could have done better, guilt should come naturally.

Moms are eternally held to an impossibly high standard. Moms get judged by new moms, old moms, non-moms, husbands, dads, etc. Very rarely are men held to the same standards, I find. Even the term “mom guilt” is evidence of the societal trappings of this mindset. Why doesn’t “dad guilt” exist? Why isn’t it called “parental guilt?” No one ever talks about that. In fact, we tend to praise dads for just showing up (they get a slow clap from me). Why is it that when dads do something required of them they get standing ovations but moms usually get:
That’s it?
Why’d you do it that way?
You couldn’t have done more?

I have no doubt men are held to different standards elsewhere but rarely are they held to the same yardstick in the realm of parenting and that’s what I’m tired of.

I love my kid. I love her to the moon and back. I love her so much I believe no other parent loves their child as much as I love her. Of course, this is not true but that’s how much I love her. I think she’s quirky, funny, unique, beautiful, witty and smart. But I also think she’s nuts most days. Could she be unstable between the hours of 7:30pm and 8:00pm? YES! Is my soul the happiest when I close her bedroom door at the end of the night? Also, YES!! And I think that’s perfectly acceptable! She won’t be like that forever. She’s a wild toddler; it’s kind of her job to test the waters and drive her parents crazy. We don’t have to magically be in love with our children 24/7. I want this to be normalized. I don’t want to feel guilty that I countdown to her naps or bedtime and that I wake up feeling relieved on Mondays because she goes to daycare and I get to go to work for 8 hours (seriously, I wake up happy most Mondays because of this).

I know I’m a dedicated mother and a wonderful homemaker but that’s not all that I am. I have a right to live outside this box. I feel like our culture makes it taboo for mothers to have alternate identities. We need to allow moms the freedom and space to be passionate about other things too. Men are rarely asked how they’re able to balance family life and work life, or what their strategies for work-life balance are. They are just asked how work is. Can we start mixing it up a bit? Let’s start asking women about their passions and asking men how fatherhood is treating them.

So, this game of guilt, are there any real winners?

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28 thoughts on “The Game of Guilt

  1. there’s no doubt in my mind that moms take on more than their fair share of parenting duties compared to dads. I don’t know what the solution is to such unfairness and the guilt it leads to, except for getting dads aware of the situation, and then having them do something about it…

    hopefully the day will come when you dread going in to work on Monday morning…

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh my!! I feel your pain!! It’s one huge reason I’ve never wanted to have kids! What I pick up on is this attitude that women are supposed to sacrifice EVERYTHING for their kids. You’re not allowed to buy yourself a book to read or to get your hair done. Your kids are entitled to all of that money! How dare you buy yourself something nice? And I’ve also picked up on mom-shaming. Like, if I had kids, for several different reasons (which may or may not be medically justifiable) I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. Shame, shame, shame, you bad, bad mommy. [Groan.] And how dare you have a life outside of your child? You should spend every waking moment nurturing your kid’s personality. AAUGH!! I hear ya!! I wish I could help!! I think you’re a great mommy!! Keep up the good work!! Don’t defenestrate little Charlotte!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mom’s get the MVP as far as I’m concerned. My wife is the best mother, wife, and friend. I’m so appreciative of all she does, and I try to never take her for granted. I don’t think guys typically judge other women (moms) how I hear some women judge other women. Guys have plenty of faults, but they don’t typically judge one another the way women do. As far as a double standard, I do see that. Men get away with being called distinguished as we go gray, but that doesn’t happen to women.

    As far as appreciating breaks from our kids, I think all parents feel this at times if they’re honest. It doesn’t mean we love them any less. Parenting is hard work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think some parents are reluctant to be honest about how they really feel for fear of judgment… Maybe? And without transparency, other parents who feel the same (tired, strained, exhausted, bored, overwhelmed, etc) then feel guilty for feeling like they’re the only ones who want breaks from their kids 🤷‍♀️ bad cycle..

      Liked by 1 person

      • Parenting is tough and rewarding. It doesn’t make any of us less of a person because we admit that sometimes our kids drive us nuts. The funny thing about life is that there will be plenty of times when the shoe is on the other foot when we’re driving them crazy.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am not a parent but I am a man, and I love this post! I come across other posts here and there (dating websites, for instance) from women that say “My children are my world” and I cringe. I mean, sure it’s great to be a loving parent, but ya know, have some life outside of “mom” or “dad”. I’m not sure this is related, but I sometimes think of animals in the wild. Often times the mom and dad will be (by our definition) rough with the babies (whether it’s birds, or four-legged creatures) but I kinda love that the parents aren’t soft and coddling the young ones. They protect them fiercely, but will also do what it takes to prepare that little one for life in the wild.

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  5. Even though I am not a mom – I relate with this post SO much by just seeing my mum struggle. My mum had a full time job and managed me and my sister. She used to get so much flak from my dad or the rest of the family if she didn’t do something perfectly or if we didn’t behave perfectly and it is so unfair. She was forced to choose taking us to our different hobby classes after her work day instead of get time off and just go out with her friends. I feel so guilty about that now as a grown up. She hardly travelled or did anything fun because raising us plus a full time job was a handful. Once I was in high school, I realized how crappy this arrangement was for her. So I encouraged her to reconnect with her childhood friends. And the 4 of them came up with a plan to take a 4 day annual vacation together – to get away from the family and to get a break. Barring last year – they’ve done this every year for the last 13 years. 🙂
    It is totally normal to want a break from being a mother – it is a full time job! If you were around, I would have bought a bottle of wine over and chilled with you – while gossiping about the blogging world. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, your mom sounds like an amazing woman who sacrificed a great deal for her family! That’s so admirable and I love that you’re able to witness that and give her due credit!

      Oh yea, I’d totally have you over and your favourite bottle of wine ready in the beer fridge! 😜🤭😘


  6. Omg I LOVE this post, you have worded it absolutely perfectly. I hate the immense pressure that is put on mums as it’s so not fair when we are doing everything to the best of our ability. Thank you so much for your honesty, bed time and cracking open a alcoholic bev keeps me sane!! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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  9. I remember your pain, even though I went through that stage 25+ years ago. I used to refer to my younger child as the devil child and the velcro child. My older child was much more angelic but when they were both toddlers I actually paid someone to watch them in her house just so I could clean my house in peace! I also used to say that going to work, in an office, was like a vacation.

    Do not despair, however. I am now closer to the devil child than I am to the angel child aka mini-me, probably because the latter is a relatively settled married lady while the other one is working her way through med school. I stayed away from her while she was an undergrad, though, because even in her 20s she still wanted me to tell her what to do and then give me a big argument as to why she didn’t want to do it!

    Liked by 1 person

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