GMS: Guilty Mom Syndrome

The anomaly of “Mom Guilt” is something a non-parent could never understand.  I can’t speak for dads, as all parents have their own dynamic, but for this mom, right here, it’s real AF. We spend so much time plotting and planning for our brood… only to find out that no amount of planning helps you hit curve balls. Every mom that I know suffers from this scourge in some form or another. It’s almost as if it’s a chemical reaction to having a child… your milk comes in and so does your guilt.

“…your milk comes in and so does your guilt.”

 Right now I’m struggling with this move. You know, the one where I plucked my kids straight out of their California comfort zones and dropped them smack dab into a Tennessee tornado. My young son is only six and aside from missing the brood of boys in our old neighborhood, he’s doing just fine. Excelling in school, making friends and happy by all accounts. My eleven year old is struggling, though. This fact is why I’m writing this with puffy eyes. I thought it would be great for him to jump directly into football. He’s played a number of years and was shaping up to be a fine player. If I could get him into a sport right away, he’d make some friends and stay active. This has been the case, to an extent. The program he’s in has been pretty rigorous as far as scheduling and since he’s new to the team and not a “super star” he hasn’t been given the attention he needs to grow to his potential. I see it and he does too. Unfortunately, I think the effects of such a taxing schedule coupled with some hits to the self esteem has seeped into his academic performance as well. He’s gained some weight and is struggling with maintaining a cheerful attitude. Some say that he’ll be fine once he adjusts. Others say it’s pre-teen angst and will pass. Of course, I say “it’s my fault”. Life is rough, man. These struggles will be a blip on his lifetime radar in no time! My brain knows this… my mom guilt, not so much! What if’s infect my thoughts like a virus. “Maybe I should have waited on football” and “What if I’d chosen a different team?”. I find myself accusingly thinking “Why didn’t you stay more closely connected to his assignments from the beginning of the year!?!” All of these finger wagging sentences pop into my head over the course of the day… everyday. Here’s the reality, sometimes coaches/teachers/bosses/ aren’t at their best and it can’t be avoided. This is life. I know that he will be ok, because we will make sure he has the tools needed to get there. The road to “there” is rough sometimes.

These struggles will be a blip on his lifetime radar in no time! My brain knows this… my mom guilt, not so much!

Any mom worth her salt has cried over something she “should have done” that was out of her control. From “My baby won’t latch on! I can’t even breast feed, I’m a terrible mother!” to “I should have been more involved with his homework! I’m a terrible mother!”. Listen, moms… this is unearned guilt. We can’t get everything right no matter how badass we are. I tell myself that we will buckle down and he’ll figure it out. I try very hard to believe myself too… but, the mom guilt seeps in through the cracks. My brain has a great way of jumping to the worst case scenario when it comes to nearly any negative possible outcome. Like, for reals… I jump to him becoming a homeless junkie/teen father of triplets which is, of course, directly related to the fact that I didn’t teach him to tie his shoes until he was seven and his self-esteem suffered. I’d like to say that we should all abandon our individual cases of mom guilt post-haste, but I think that might not be sound advice. Maybe this unearned guilt or feeling excessively guilty of small things, may be a chemical response to the things that could possibly cause harm, be it physically or emotionally, to our babes in the long run. What if our physiological responses to danger just haven’t quite adapted to the relatively safe world that we now live in? The mothers of old, no doubt, obsessed over a neighboring tribe coming in the dark of night and annihilating the entire village. Maybe she had to consider the possibility of wild animals snatching her baby! (The dingo ate your baby!) When I say we live in a safe world now, I mean SAFE. I know it doesn’t seem that way because our flow of information allows us to know about every attrocity around the globe within minutes of it’s occurance, but we are more safe than we have EVER been. It seems plausible that these instinctual concerns may be manifesting themselves now through our desire to raise well adjusted kiddos and not just physically safe ones. As one of my girlfriends used to say, “just don’t let ‘em die!” These are our natural responses and I think I might be onto something when I say that those of us who allow our mom guilt to exist, might actually raise some fine children! When you start to feel the guilt encroach, pull yourselves up by your boob straps and pat yourself on the back, mama! You’re doing your best! I say feel it… feel it all. Be cautious and forgive yourself, because even though we aren’t going to get it all right, it’s gonna be alright. 

Swearing Mom out.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Jodi Fleishman says:

    this was an especially good column, Jenny!Glad to see you’re back at it..keep em coming.Thinking of you and hoping all is good with the familyMissing you bigly!  ha haJodi

    1. Hahaha I miss you YUGE!

  2. You are a great mom. I loved this.

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