Whether you snapped at your kid or made a mistake, there is mom guilt. Little things, big things, things in or out of our control, there is always mom guilt. Earlier this month, my daughter broke her arm and it took me an hour to notice! I felt so guilty that she got hurt and that it took me so long to notice, I cried. She was standing on the furniture and when I told her to get down, she lost her footing and fell on our deck. She cried, of course, and I thoroughly checked her over to make sure she wasn’t actually hurt. She stayed fussy for the next hour and I thought she was just scared, tired, or hungry. Though she stopped crying, she whimpered and whined. As we sat down to dinner, she said her arm hurt and refused to eat.
I took one look at her arm and my heart fell to my stomach — it was definitely broken!
My husband took her to the ER while I scrambled to find insurance cards because they were buried in paperwork in my office. More guilt! As I talked with friends and medical staff who shared stories similar to mine, I realized I was not a bad parent — these things happen. One of the x-ray techs shared that a coworker from the hospital had taken a full week to recognize a broken bone in her own child. While I have to believe the child’s broken bone had to be less severe and less noticeable than my daughter’s poor crooked arm, I started feeling a little better. Heck, I broke my wrist in second grade and it took my mom half a day to notice. Accidents happen and things go unnoticed; life is not predictable. You can be darn sure you will feel the disgusting pressure of guilt as a parent at some point.
To reassure you that you are not alone in your mom guilt, I’m sharing quotes from fellow moms. I hope they make you feel a little better; they definitely helped me.
“My daughter had an elbow that came out of the socket twice. Once as a baby and once as a toddler. I felt horrible even though I didn’t do anything (wrong). I still had to listen to doctors and nurses tell me I shouldn’t lift my daughter by the arms…which I would never do!”
“When I was freshly divorced and my life was a maze, I sometimes looked forward to the weekends my daughter went with her dad. It’s not that I looked forward to her being gone. Not at all! It’s that I got a little room to be a broken adult without fearing my daughter would see how scared I was.”
“Not giving my kids enough attention when working on my school work. For getting upset at them. For having a messy house. For not making good dinners.”
“Counting down the last couple hours until bedtime. It’s not often, but between working, schooling, house wrangling, some days I just want to sit in a dark, quiet room and have nothing be asked of me.”
“Losing my patience with them when all they are doing is learning life skills with everyday tasks. Being annoyed that I’m just a perfectionist and routine person that I sometimes forget to let them be kids…”
“Not following through. Telling my 11-year-old she needs to read and literally watching her on the iPad instead, but I don’t want to fight that battle so I don’t say anything.”
“…when I have asked something of my children or even at times demanded them to do something that I in fact wasn’t capable of at the time. Example: Make your bed in the morning before school. Most days I’m not even able to get my bed made with all the morning crazy. Even keep your clothes picked up off the floor. If I pause and look at my habits, are they that much different than my kids’? Some totally are but others are not. I try to no longer ask things of my kids that I am not capable of doing either. Very circumstantial and changes daily.”
“I locked my daughter in the car when she was just over a year old. I was freaking out, and my mom and the sheriff were laughing as my daughter was having the time of her life taking off her shoes and socks throwing them around in the Jeep.”
“Laughing when they said something they shouldn’t have.”
“Being too tired to play or entertain them.”
“Letting my six-month-old dictate the sleep schedule…we sleep all day and party all night. She also co-slept with me. We both get better sleep. We send daddy upstairs during the work week.”
“Last night I said I wish there were three of me…one to pay attention to my husband; one to do household tasks and tend to my kids’ needs (both teens, btw); and one to work and do what I really enjoy.”
“With my daughter I felt guilty that I was working and not able to spend all the special quality one on one bonding time with her. Then I felt guilty when I quit my job to stay home with her because she was missing out on all the socializing.”
“I felt guilty when in the first meeting with the speech therapist we were told that the pacifier probably gave her the low muscle tone in her mouth. Immediately, I dropped the paci and four years later she still has the low muscle tone. It wasn’t the paci, it was just a part of who she is.”
“I felt guilty every time I left him at the NICU, but also felt guilty every time I went to spend time with him for leaving the other two.”
“With my son and daughter, I felt guilty when I’d bring them places and they would have sensory meltdowns. Guilty for bothering other people, but also guilty like ‘Is it that important to go to the grocery store if it completely overwhelms my kids like this?'”
“When I had my miscarriage I felt guilty for everything – did I run too far? Not drink enough water? Eat the wrong thing? But miscarriages just happen, and then I felt guilty because there was nothing I could have done. Then I felt guilty for loving my rainbow, because he wouldn’t be here if she were.”
“With my little pandemic isolation baby, I feel guilty that he doesn’t even know what a store looks like. Hasn’t been to library story time or to the aquarium. Doesn’t know anyone outside of our family, when all his older siblings had so much more interaction with the world by now.”
When I asked for stories of guilt, I had no idea that there would be so many willing moms to share their stories. If you’re feeling mom guilt, I hope this helps you to see that we all feel it. You are not alone and you never will be. So go ahead and let it wash over you for a moment and then remember we have all been there, sweet mama.