I've heard too much lately about moms feeling that well known "Mama Guilt." Feeling not good enough, striving for impossible perfection, trying to always do more, be more, say more, offer more, etc. for their kids. It's a never-ending battle it seems. We feel guilty for not nursing, for using formula, for not having what others have, etc. I think it's time we gain some confidence and be comfortable in our own skin. This summer I'll post a series about just HOW you can be a Super Momma who is happy with what you are doing instead of always feeling judged or comparing yourself to other moms. Stay tuned, more in July on this topic.
But first, I thought before moms can move to a place of genuine comfort with one's skin, you have to accept, talk about, move on and forgive yourself about those things you have felt most guilty for in your mom adventure.
Thus, these Mommy Stories, as our June Mama Guilt Confessions Series! I've asked for moms in the Facebook group to share their experiences with the Mama Guilt.The purpose is twofold - 1) I hope that by sharing your stories you will feel better yourself. Sometimes talking about it helps you clear things up, feel better saying it out loud, and 2) I KNOW someone else will read these stories and think, "Thank goodness, someone else knows how it feels. I feel better already knowing I'm not alone."
So stay tuned the rest of this month for more moms sharing their stories. If you are interested in sharing, please message me at the FB group or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to Amanda Carr for being the first to share her experience. I greatly admire her raw honesty. I know someone will relate to this (I definitely do!).
She is one S-T-R-O-N-G mother!
(all photos from Amanda Carr)
1. When is the first time you recall feeling this Mama Guilt of feeling like you failed, did not do something right, or like others were judging you?
The first time I remember feeling the guilt/failure is with the breastfeeding. It kind of spans from the day Mason was born until I decided to go to formula, and still pops up every now and then when I see a woman nursing or if it comes up in conversation. I just assumed nursing would come naturally, and when we had problems from the very first day with latching is when I started feeling like I wasn't going to be a good mom if I couldn't even figure out how to nurse. It's supposed to just happen naturally on baby's end and my end right?! Wrong! After a few months of struggling/pumping/going back to work part time, we went to formula.
2. Before you became a mom, what type of mom did you think you'd be? Give at least 5 words to describe the mom you imagined yourself being.
What kind of mom did I think I'd be? Loving, Nurturing, Patient, Creative, In-Control. I again, just assumed that all of these things would come naturally, or a switch would turn on once the baby came out and I would be all of those things and more...but I honestly hadn't even put that much thought into it. It took over 7 years for me to get pregnant. After that much time went by, I forgot to focus on what kind of mom I'd be, my main focus for SO long was just getting pregnant. So when everything else didn't just fall into place, I was definitely caught off guard.
3. Look at the words you mentioned in #2... are you those words now? Would you call yourself those words now in describing how you are as a mom? Would others use those words to describe you?
I'd say I am loving and nurturing every day. Patience, creativity and in-control are things I have to work on DAILY. I honestly have no idea how other people view me and the kind of mom I am!
4. If breastfeeding didn't work -- What happened ? What did you try to make it work? Why didn't it work, what got in the way? Why did you want it to work so badly? Who or what was in your head when you were trying to nurse? How did it feel when the breastfeeding didn't work? You mentioned you have come to peace with this now... how did you reach that point of being OK with breastfeeding not working out for you?
Breastfeeding didn't work for long x2. I was able to do it for around 3 months with my first and 1 month with my second. The first time we had latching problems. Used the shield for a long time and by the time I went back to work part time was just about when he got the hang of it and I stopped producing enough! My husband was not all that supportive of the whole struggle that went along with breastfeeding and we'd end up arguing over it.
A huge part of my mommy guilt is that I don't think I tried hard enough to stick with it. I knew the formula was there and I knew he was a happy baby with it, so I pretty much switched right to it (nursing only at night for a couple weeks before stopping completely) There was no pain involved for me because I was barely making any milk. I wanted it to work so badly because it's all I'd ever really known or seen friends/family do.
I didn't want people to judge me and think I wasn't giving my baby all that I could/the best. I came to peace with switching over to formula after a conversation I had with my dad. He said "You can't look at a group of people and tell which ones were formula fed and which ones were breastfed can you? Do what's best for your family and don't worry what everyone else thinks."
Also, seeing how much happier Mason was after each feeding from the bottle/formula compared to nursing, and seeing that he was growing and healthy.
5. How do you know you are a good mom? If you don't feel like you are one now, when will you know you are? What needs to happen to make you feel like a good mom?
I know I am a good mom because I am doing all that I can and my kids are happy, healthy, growing, thriving people. They are 2 and 3 and they tell me all the time that they love me (yes, I do put a ton of value in that).
I can recognize that I am not perfect and I hardly ever have it all together, but the fact that I try and try every day to be better than I was the day before means I am moving in the right direction.
6. What was your birth experience like with your baby?
I pretty much had the exact births that I'd hoped for! 2 natural/unmedicated/vaginal births. My labors were short 10.5 hours for #1 and 3 hours for #2.
7. What is your advice to another mom who experiences this Mama Guilt over breastfeeding? What would you have wanted someone to say to you back during that difficult time?
I think my advice would be to have a more flexible idea of what is right because what's right is what works for YOU and YOUR baby, not everyone else. And even when you put the 'perfect' plan together, things change in an instant with kids and so will your idea of perfection and what is right. Be a ball of clay, strong in substance, but mold-able, movable.
And remember that most things don't seem as bad after you've had a chance to SLEEP!
8. If you could go back, what would you tell that version of yourself you were when you went through that tough time?
I'd tell myself to stop being so uptight. One other area that's been very difficult is the relationship with my husband. Often times we are not on the same page. I wish we had talked more about parenting, or knew how/what to talk about it. I've spent too much time thinking about how he could change to make the situation better and in looking inward, I wonder if I just lightened up a bit and let him figure out the kind of dad he wants to be, rather than tell him the kind of dad I want him to be, we could avoid certain arguments. Anyways, this is a WHOLE different subject, probably for a different day
Hope my thoughts will be helpful!
Seriously LOVE this picture below!
What a sweet family. Thanks, Amanda, for sharing! :)