Here comes another "deep thoughts" entry...
The topic of guilt has risen in my mind a few times lately.
Guilt can stop us in our tracks. For many moms, it's a quiet monster that can easily be awakened.
Yesterday, I remembered that I actually felt guilty during my first pregnancy, because I wasn't sure I was talking or singing enough to my unborn child. I was also afraid that I might not have a strong enough connection with him, because I'd read that many moms feel strong connections to their unborn children.
Now, I can see how much unnecessary torture I put myself though from day one. I think I tried to force myself to feel this way or that about my son, because I was being a bad mom if I didn't. It was especially tough right after he was born, because I experienced the baby blues for about a month. I also had extremely high expectations of myself, which wasn't fair, because I had not been around a lot of babies before him. I thought I should have it all down, shouldn't feel stressed, and should be able to embrace, absorb, and seize the moment. I was exhausted and felt crazy. I remember having people over to visit, and wondering if they could see how big of a mess I was. One of my dad's friends told me something that really helped me get by in those first three months. "Katie, until you get to month four, it is really hard. You're a new mom, and that's like being alone with your baby on an island sometimes." Thank you! Sometimes it's really good to hear things that you can relate to. Many new moms' guilt levels are amplified by the expectation that everything is supposed to be beautiful and perfect once you lay eyes on your baby.
Comparisons are the worst! Sometimes when I look at other moms, I wonder if I'm building a strong enough learning environment for my son, if I'm feeding him the wrong foods, or if I'm playing on the floor with him enough.
I feel guilty for being on the computer if he's awake. I wonder if we play outside enough. Am I writing in his baby book enough, taking enough pictures/videos, or reading him enough books. Worst of all: I sometimes question whether or not someone else could do a better job at mothering my son than I. I am pretty sure he'd say, "no way, mom!"...if he could.
Slowly, but surely, I'm adjusting to life as a mother, and finding more freedom and confidence in our relationship and routines. Experience builds confidence.
I do believe that guilt can be a tool to propel us to be more active, loving, and nurturing moms, but it's such a defeating tool. It does more damage than good. I believe that's the truth in all aspects of our lives, not just mothering. I know that if I can free myself of guilt, then I'll have a clearer perspective of the organic love I have for my son and unborn child. I will be able to move forward each day without the pressures of being the perfect mom, because...
...there will always be that mom out there that seems to have it all together without flinching...a mom who might give me the temptation to feel envious or guilty over my lack of organization, messy house, temper tantrum throwing child, or my family's sometimes non-existent schedule. I realize that many moms, including myself, will mostly portray the happy moments of motherhood, but each one of us experiences tough days, weeks, and months!
My plan is to forgive myself daily of anything I begin to feel guilty about...then to move forward, because I LOVE my son and unborn child. That's all that matters.
"Guilt is anger directed at ourselves." Peter McWilliams
I think kids are more loving to us and forgiving of us than we are to ourselves.