Mom Guilt is a Liar

I have friends that grow, cook, and make almost everything from scratch that their kids eat. They are amazing. I salute them while I rip open a box of macaroni and cheese and add an extra few tablespoons of butter. It’s Annie’s Organic on a good day…otherwise we are not above the 19-cent variety.

A friend of mine researches every health related issue, and spends her extra change on the supplements she reads about. It is her passion, and it’s how she loves her family and friends so well. I spend that money on lattes and stretch pants.

I look at the “Wait Until 8th” pledge and think, hell-if-my-kids-will-have-smart-phones- before-they’re-sixteen-atleast. I know, my oldest is 10, and I may eat my words, but I just don’t want the internet in the back pocket of my teens. I have friends that give their kids phones as soon as they start playing sports. I totally get it. We both gotta do what we feel is best for our kids.

I have a friend that rarely (if ever) raises her voice or loses her cool. I DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT. I would call my parenting style “fiery with lots of fire”. If I’m mad, or sad, or scared…my kids know it, but they also know that I love them fiercely.

I have a friend who keeps life simple so they can afford to send their kids to private school. She makes daily sacrifices to continue their education. Her love and dedication to her kids is amazing, and I’m humbled when I think about it, but I don’t blink twice when I drop my kids by the flagpole at our local elementary.

We are all good parents.

I choose babysitters like I’m recruiting for the FBI. It is a strenuous process. My friend will knock on the neighbor’s door and ask if the nearest tween would be willing to pop over for a minute while she runs to the grocery store. She high-fives the youth as she sprints out the door.

I am outnumbered by sisters who homeschool. They are good at it, and I can tell that it has had a healthy impact on their kids. I tried homeschooling once. I want my kids to still like me (and also know how to read), so I stopped. It’s not for me; I’m not good at it.

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I have friends who baby-wised, who co-slept, and who attachment parented. I have friends who nursed and who bottle fed. I have friends that feed their kids snacks after dinner, and those who don’t. I’ve got friends who are working moms and stay-at-home-moms.

We are all over the map.

We are all good parents.

We need to trust ourselves more.

Each of us makes different decisions for our kids, but we are all fantastic moms. Do you know how I know that? Because we love them. We love them with our whole hearts and we do our best. Each of us would stand in front of an oncoming bus to protect them.

We would walk through fire for them, and sometimes we do.

The internet is a liar; there’s no “one-way” to do this well. WE DO OUR BEST…and guess what? OUR BEST IS ENOUGH, and even if it isn’t…that’s all we can offer.

There are a thousand, million, opinions out there about the “right” way to parent.

Sometimes we gotta let that shit go, and trust our gut.

There are some things that are out of our control, but as Jack from This is Us said,

We’re their parents,

we do the best we can,

but at the end of the day…

what happens to them?

It’s bigger than us.

Why is it so hard to trust ourselves when it comes to parenting?

Is it because we’re scared? Is it because parenthood has become more like an Olympic sport than an organic process? Is it because we look back at the mistakes our parents made and are scared to make the same ones?  Is it because we’ve realized that the standard we judged our parents by was actually pretty unfair and even impossible?

Is it because we think the preschool we choose might be the actual difference between raising a humanitarian or a drug dealer? Is it because we doubt that our love is enough? Is it because we long for a futuristic thanksgiving table full of friendship and laughter…not one we saw once on a SNL sketch?

Yes, I think so.

A word to my generation of moms…

We’ve got this. Mom guilt is a liar and the internet is a liar. No one can do it all. Trust your gut and do the best you can…we are in this together.

The kids are going to be fine.

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These photos are compliments of the amazing @isaacjohnston at isaacjohnston.co.

For more like this you can follow me here, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

33 thoughts on “Mom Guilt is a Liar

  1. Maren DeGraff

    Thank you for this: “If I’m mad, or sad, or scared…my kids know it, but they also know that I love them fiercely.”

    I so needed this today. We were camping in Tahoe this weekend and a bear came into our camp – like actually into our camp, while we were all there – and I got scared. And my daughter saw it. And then she got scared, because I did. I felt awful afterwards, and had other people tell me that I didn’t handle it as well I could have. Okay, probably true. But it was a freaking bear. And I grew up in South Florida. #nobears. Thank you for the reminder that even though sometimes we don’t handle every situation with the most grace possible, they still know we love them fiercely. Kinda like bears 🙂

  2. wonderoak

    Oh man I would be freaked too! Confession: I actually don’t take my kids to get immunized (my husband does) because of that exact thing. I get nervous and it freaks them out…oh well, haha.

  3. Gregg

    Awesome post. Even for a 66 year old bloke. I will never be a mom but I totally agree. Very inspiring. Go moms!

  4. Brittney • Peck

    Adore your words of wisdom, your true blue approach to motherhood is precious. Keep Writing, many would be lost without you.

  5. Sary

    Omg thank you Soooo much for this article!
    You made me cry…. mommy guilt is a strong guilt a feeling I hate feeling when I feel guilty. However, I have to tell myself I LOVE my son like a momma bear and I’m trying and doing my Best for him. I hope he knows I’m trying or at least know one day since he’s only 3 🙂

  6. Kari

    I battle this every. single. day. I parents wildly differently than the other moms in my life and get a lot of flack from my family for doing too much or trying too hard, then I see my better-paid colleagues provide things for their children that I couldn’t do if I gave up my car, my cell phone, and ate only pasta and I feel like I will never do enough.

    Every day this week, my son has cried at day care drop off because, as he puts it, “I love you guys.” And every night at bedtime, as I stroke his hair and try to find a comfortable spot on our floor and get feeling back into my feet so that I can stand up and head downstairs for 30 minute of time with my husband, he has cried and said, “But mommy, I need you.” Every day I have felt like a terrible mother for not being home with him. And I have felt like a terrible mother for enjoying going to work. And I have felt like a terrible mother for holding his hand until he falls asleep instead of teaching him to sleep alone. I have sent him off with lunches packed full of organic fruit and vegetables, only to have hot dogs and take out Chinese food for dinner.

    I worry so much that I’m failing him, but then I remember that he’s fed and clothed and clean (mostly), and that he knows he’s loved. He crawls into my lap without asking, because he knows he’s always welcome there. He plays with my hair and kisses my wedding ring to say he loves me.

    It’s been a hard week. Mom guilt is real, but mom guilt is a liar. I’m not failing my son because his daycare doesn’t have a water feature. Thank you for the reminder. I just hope I can hold on to that.

  7. stomperdad

    There are as many parenting styles as there are people in the world. We all do our own thing and do what we think is best for ourselves and our kids. My wife started sorting the boys Lego by color one day. Turns out that wasn’t good for her. So we find other ways to help that is good for everyone. Like making sure they don’t go to school wearing nothing but underwear.

  8. Eldon Gaw, Ottawa, Canada

    Ok Greg, You and I have a few things in common… 1. we’re never going to be moms, 2. We are both past our ‘Best Before” date, (albeit I’m 4 years farther than you!) and, 3. we guys read this chicks writings, and obviously hold her pretty high in our “good stuff” score. Personally, I don’t know how she manages to put such high octane in every single post. Never ever thought I would read such wisdom on an internet posting. I hope someday she gets her own TV show… an amazing writer, an amazing story teller, and without a doubt, an amazing mom.. I bow my head to you Jess, and wish you over experienced adventures on your upcoming world wide tour. eld.

  9. Tara Leslie

    Oh, hell, yes to all of the above! The whole “Mom guilt” thing is horrific, and we need to stop putting ourselves through it!

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  12. deepasthoughts

    very well captured.. Mom guilt is a slow killer for so many of us moms.
    Read just today in another blog ” If an adult does not have the ability to stand up to peer pressure, how can we expect a child to stand up to peer pressure?”
    It is all about standing for what you believe is the best for your child..
    Thanks for the article and reinstating the fact that the internet is a liar.. 🙂

  13. Margaret Sky

    Yes! I totally bought into believing there was a “right” way to do things when my daughter was first born, and I berated myself for things like failing at sleep training. (I am just not one of those organized, consistent moms who can take a deep breath and tell myself “it’s okay for them to cry.” Thus, a daughter who started sleeping through the night around 18 months. But I digress…) What a gift to learn to love and accept the moms we are and realize that “good enough” parenting is just right. I, too, now have friends with very diverse parenting styles and it is clear to me all their children are turning out just fine and all of their children know they are loved and safe.

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