Posts Tagged ‘I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids’

“guilty mommy” gets attention

September 19th, 2009

Yesterday’s blog about mommy guilt received the swiftest and most responses (on the blog and on my Facebook page) to anything that I’ve written so far. (I know, I know; baking brownies just doesn’t stir emotions in the same way.)

If you haven’t read the book I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids, I recommend that you do. It’s a super fast read, with lots of insight, humor, and advice packed in. The authors, Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile, start by fessing up to how they feel. See if any of these ring true:

-“As mothers, we put way too much pressure on ourselves.” [agree]
-“We have an unrealistic image of what a ‘good’ mom is.” [agree]
-“We secretly compare ourselves to other moms, who seem to have it all together.” [not so much—I admire and depend on lots of moms]
-We think we need to be perfect all the time. [agree]
-We feel alone. [sometimes]
-Our lives feel out of balance.” [sometimes]

Then the authors interviewed a lot of moms who (surprise!) feel the same way.

Spoiler alert! To summarize, for those who don’t read the book, the authors’ advice boils down to: realign your expectations of yourself as a parent. Consider if your expectations make sense and whether they make you and your family happy. Just doing this, they say, is the key to letting go of guilt and judgment—and to loving being a mom as much as you love your kids.

I think an equally important takeaway is their advice for moms to talk honestly to each other and to support each other.

I wouldn’t have survived motherhood thus far if it weren’t for other moms. It was thanks to my friends and sisters that I was eventually able to breastfeed Carter, after doctors and lactation consultants had long given up on me. (Carter was 9 weeks old the first day I was able to exclusively breastfeed him. He then nursed until he weaned himself at 2 1/2 years old.) When Carter was an infant, I would email my weekly new mommies’ group, which still gets together, in the middle of the night and get a response. Carter broke his leg when he was 3, and a mom I’d never met from the Palo Alto Menlo Park Parents’ Club, which has thousands of members, lent me her copy of Jessica’s X-Ray. I could go on and on. Suffice it to say, I am filled with gratitude for all that other moms have done for me.

In the end, I don’t think “realigning expectations” will ever assuage all my guilt. But support from other moms? Now, that gets results.

Yet another guilty mommy

September 18th, 2009

I just read I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood for book club. Authors Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile interviewed a lot of moms who feel a lot of guilt about a lot of things. It got me to thinking: What do I feel guilty about—aside from never putting together any scrapbooks for Carter?

I don’t feel guilty about working, even though I’m gone from 8 am to 6 pm every weekday. (I don’t know how stay-at-home moms do it—how they have the patience and physical stamina. The most exhausting time of my life was my 20-week maternity leave.) I think it’s good for Carter to see me do what I love. It doesn’t hurt, in his eyes, that my job means I can make a book about airplanes.

I don’t feel guilty about Carter going to daycare. He learns more at Lucy’s than I could ever teach him staying at home. (Did I mention he understands Russian?)

However, I do feel tremendously guilty if I do something, even take a class, when Carter is not in daycare and is awake: weekday mornings, weeknights between coming home and bedtime at 8 pm, and weekends, outside of naptime, until bedtime.

Last fall, I went on two business trips, four days to New York and three days to Florida—the first time and only times I’ve ever left Carter for more than a day.

I also feel guilty when I want to sleep in the morning, but Carter is awake—especially when he bounces in at 6 am, or even 7 am, and says, “Get up, Mommy! I want you to play with me.”

I should be grateful. For years, Carter got up between 5 and 5:30 am—every morning. And that was it. We were both awake. I’d read stacks and stacks of books. I’d take him for walks in our PJs. Sometimes, I got lucky: he’d nurse and then we’d both snooze.

However, I feel like if I were a truly Good Mother, I would spend and savor every possible hour—even when I’d rather be sleeping—with Carter.

Truth is: Carter doesn’t care that much if I’m gone, as long as it’s not an extensive absence and Jeff is around. Carter actually wants me to go to yoga class on Saturday morning because he likes to go to childcare at the Y (they have fun toys). He’s starting to decline to go on errands with me, even to Trader Joe’s (!), to stay home and play. Sometimes, he’d rather watch TV than bake with me (double ouch). If I leave to go somewhere, I get a “ba-bye” for the most part.

Yet. I feel guilty. Welcome to modern motherhood. According to the book, I’m in good company.