If there is a constant in a mother's life – apart from sleep deprivation and constant fatigue – it is the mom guilt. Every mom will tell you about a time when she thought she was a horrible mother. Maybe she said no to extra TV time or she gave away her son’s favourite toy to charity. Or maybe she rues over a joke that went too far and made her child cry….20 years ago! Mom’s guilt is a real thing and boy is it persistent! On Mother’s Day 2019, here’s what every mum should know about maternal guilt.
What is Mom Guilt?
Dr Era Dutta, Consultant Neuropsychiatrist and therapist at Mind Wellness explains: “New mothers and even the seasoned ones at some point or the other are plagued by ‘mom’s guilt.’ Moms feel it when they prioritise their own needs before their children’s.” Reduced Cancer Risk and Longer Life! Health Benefits of Motherhood You Didn't Know About.
A common example is moms who go back to work after having a baby often feel guilty about it. "Similarly, when mothers choose to exercise, spend extra time with their friends or go to the salon instead of playing with the child, they may face pangs of sudden mom guilt."
NUK, a babycare product company reported that 87 percent of all moms feel mothers guilt and 21 percent feel it almost all the time.
A Pew Research Center says that the number of moms who work full-time is dwindling, indicating that mom guilt is real.
Why Do Mothers Feel Mom Guilt?
The answer lies in maternal instinct. It's part of a mother's design to choose her child's comforts over her own or at least that's what the society propagates. This self-sacrificial behaviour is often eulogised and perpetuated as a quality that makes a mother.
No wonder women feel inadequate no matter how much they dote on their children. "The inability to meet such a build-up leads to mom's guilt," says Dr Dutta. Mother’s Day 2019: Funny Memes, Jokes and GIFs to Celebrate the Day for Moms, ROFLing Hard Together!
"Sadly sometimes we as passersby are contributory to this mom guilt with judgemental statements like – 'Oh! You are here. Where is the baby?' and 'Who takes care of the baby while you are away?' and worse – 'Why do you have to go back to work so soon. Stay with the baby.'"
Is Mom Guilt Justified?
"Yes and no," says the doctor. "Feeling a little guilt shows the strong bond you feel for the wonderful creature you have created and feel responsible for."
Mom guilt is ok as long as it is in small doses. Trouble starts when it starts getting unmanageable or unhealthy. Mom guilt can lead to lack of productivity or even depression.
"Many mothers say that the mom's guilt has stopped them from getting back to their own lives. And some even state that they don’t even recognise themselves anymore," adds Dr Dutta.
How to Overcome Mom Guilt
Mom guilt can be draining and overcome it you must. And the only way to counter it is by self-love.
Moms are made to feel guilty about prioritising their needs. That should change. A woman doesn't stop having needs of her own when she has a child.
"Know that putting yourself first and taking care of yourself doesn’t make you a bad mother. In fact, if it makes you a happy mother, make time for it. After all, it’s the happy mothers who raise happy children," says Dr Dutta.
"Self-love means dedicating some times each day to pursue your passions, love (other than the child) and interests. Even if it means taking a little longer shower to relax, it’s ok. Practise self-love daily!" she adds.
"Be the best version of you and that is more than enough for your child, your partner, your family, and more importantly, you!" Dr Dutta states.
So let's instead strive to be a happy mother instead of the perfect one. Wishing all the moms out there a very Happy Mother's Day.