Mama Guilt

I’ve heard that phrase a thousand times before. Mama guilt. I never really knew what it meant though. Surprisingly, it means exactly what it sounds like it means. Go figure, eh?

Lately, I’ve been a little focused in this whole ‘wedding’ ordeal. I’ve been penny-pinching to the nth degree, and spending the majority of my time stressing over/thinking about the wedding. At the end of May, I had knee surgery. Then Matt’s truck broke down and I was without a car for nearly a month. And then there was the whole “I’m the better mommy” drama from a few weeks back when a couple of girls tried to tell me how to parent, and thus scared me away from my regular schedule of taking Nolan to play group. I didn’t want to see them, because the whole situation pissed me off and when I get pissed off I kind of shut down. I felt judged, I felt as if they were playing the better mommy game and that I was ‘losing’ in their books. I don’t like feeling that way.

I know, it’s horrible. I need to find out how I stop shutting down when I’m pissed off. I’ve sorta been pissed off about a lot of things lately for a while now, and I suppose it’s been affecting my parenting. I haven’t felt like going anywhere. I haven’t felt like doing anything. I’ve been frustrated and angry with my situation and instead of trying to come up with a solution I prefered to hide inside myself and mope about it, then proceeded to withdraw.

Needless to say, for the past little while Nolan and I haven’t really been able to get out of the house for any significant amount of time. Some of it has been beyond my control {knee surgery, no car} but a lot of it has been my fault {the whole withdrawing into myself and being pissed off and shutting down bit}.

Someone {I’m not going to say who, because it really doesn’t matter} told me that they have been annoyed with me because they feel I’m not ‘stimulating’ Nolan enough. I play with him during basically his every waking hour, I try to teach him and I read to him and we do all those lovely things. But, this person? They feel that I’m not doing enough. I don’t take him out enough, he never gets to hang out with other kids his age & this is why he is such a ‘hell raiser’ {which I don’t think is true at all; he’s curious like any other baby, but whatever}, and so on and so forth.

This conversation, needless to say, stung me. Really bad. I know I haven’t been my best lately {on account of I’ve been so withdrawn, depressed and angry not to mention busy trying to plan this wedding without an actual clue on how to plan a wedding}, and we don’t actually know many people and therefore arranging play dates with children Nolan’s age is a little difficult {lordy I wish the two people with kids his age that I knew weren’t so self-righteous…} but I never meant to starve Nolan of ‘stimulation’. {I didn’t know I was doing this; he’s always happy so…yeah?}

This summer was supposed to go a lot better than it is. Yes, I’m getting married and that’s wonderful and exciting and I’m totally stoked and happy about that, don’t get me wrong. But…I’ve just been so frustrated with a few things that I’m trying to work on changing {in my home situation, and my relationships with some of my in-laws}. Not to mention, the shadflies sort of put a major delay on our beach trips {when they are around you can get The Itch from swimming…something I’m obviously wary of…plus they are NASTY}.

But it all is ‘just excuses’, right? The bottom line is I suck. Or, at least, I feel like I suck…especially after that conversation with that person {who isn’t Matt, for the record. He thinks I’m doing an amazing job}.

And thus, the mama guilt is finally here. I feel guilty that I {apparently} haven’t been providing a stimulating-enough environment for Nolan. I feel guilty that I am not more fearless and energetic. I feel guilty that I’m not the mother I thought I’d be. I thought I’d have endless bouts of energy and be able to accomplish everything and more. I thought I’d be planning weekend trips every weekend and going on adventures and just rockin’ this whole parenting business.

Also, as a result of this conversation {and some of the other mini-dramas in my life} I feel more guarded and insecure. Today when we went to play group, I was asked if he’s talking yet, and he isn’t. Someone made a comment about how usually they start talking around this age {15 months}. Total kick to my already low mama-self-esteem. I started thinking {and admittedly, still am thinking} that I’m doing something wrong. Maybe it’s because I don’t take him to the beach enough, or because he doesn’t play with other kids enough, or because I just suck as a parent and didn’t even know it until now.

Sigh. Needless to say I hate mama guilt.

And I know: I shouldn’t let these things get to me. I’m working on that; it’s easier said than done. I want to be the best parent, I really do. I love my boy more than anything in this world and I tell him a thousand times a day. We play together all the time, and yes…I don’t often take him places and I know I need to start, but I thought I was doing a pretty decent job all things considered. I’m still not 100% back on my feet since the surgery, I’ve got less energy lately thanks to other draining matters. And to go out every weekend on those fun weekend trips? Ya it costs money, money that we aren’t exactly rolling in right now.

So ya: post summary: I’ve been feeling like the worst mama in the world as of late, thanks to certain comments being made in my general direction.

I know I’ll feel much better after this weekend; after the wedding. The wedding has been a significant cause of stress in my life, and I’ll be happy to just have it done with and be married {again; I AM excited about getting married, I’m just not enjoying this stressful wedding process}.

And I have plans to get myself out of this rut and out of the house with Nolan:

  • After the wedding, I will be getting Nolan a membership to the YMCA and enrolling him in swimming lessons!
  • In August I have finally talked Matt into a little camping trip. It will just be one night, since it’s our first family camping trip, but still!
  • Also in August: I want to take Nolan to the Toronto Zoo. I know I might be over-reaching with this goal {the zoo is pretty pricey, as are trips down ‘South’}.
  • We’ll be taking more day trips to the waterfront to ride the miniature train and carousel.
  • Add to Nolan’s nursery. I wanted to make some special decorations for it, and get a collage of all his great grandparents and grandparents. I also wanted to find a better solution to the letter issue I’ve been having {his name won’t stay on the wall}. I think I’ve found it; we’re going to mount the letters onto a white antique looking piece of wood and then hang it on the wall like a picture.

And then, there are some things I’m going to do for the greater good of myself {even though I kinda feel like I’ve been thinking about myself entirely too much…sigh}:

  • Get a part or full-time job and enroll Nolan in part or full-time day care. It’ll be nice to actually get my brain thinking again. I miss working at the diner; hopefully I can get that job back…
  • Have a girls night/weekend.

And yeah, that’s really all the ideas I have right now…

Do you ever experience mama guilt? What do you do to ease that feeling and get back into your good mama feeling groove?



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38 responses to “Mama Guilt

  1. Cri

    my niece didn’t start talking really till 3. they all catch up. and if something was wrong you’d know it. trust me. and people are bitches. which you know. you have my support 100%, i think you are super mama. 🙂

  2. pixiegurl64

    You are loved so so much and I personally think you and Matt are FANTASTIC parents and are doing a wonderful raising your little family. XoXo

  3. As a family member who has seen firstbhand how loving, attentive and amazing you are with Nolan, I can say with 100% certainty that whoever said this to you is way out of line.
    You did just have surgery (twice actually, since Nolan was born) and you bounced back damn quick both times. Please give yourself some serious credit for that. Not to mention, Nolan gets plenty of stimulation from all kinds of people including our families.
    Things will calm down a bit after the wedding and you’ll get to some of those goals you want to do. Relax and enjoy this time. Kids learn at different paces and believe me, once they start talking, they never shut up!
    I have said to you and to others in our family that I think you are a really fabulous mom and I mean it. Anyone who thinks otherwise can suckit.

  4. I was just 20 when I had my first, my daughter. I remember REALLY well that mommy judgement that seems to come along with being a young mother. It sucks, but it does dissipate. Or our skin grows thicker. Whichever.

    As for Nolan talking, my first two never started talking until they were two. My daughter didn’t really start until almost two and a half. She took so long to talk I started worrying she was deaf or worse. Now she never shuts up.

    And stimulation? The only thing Nolan needs right now is loving parents who engage with him. He learns everything he needs to know through his interactions with YOU. Developmentally, children his age won’t stimulate him the way you do, so tell those ho-bags to shut their traps and mind their manners.

    Don’t you ever let another person ever make you feel like you are a shitty mom. Ever. Cuz you’re not.

    • Thanks Tanis 🙂 it does help to hear from someone who was in my shoes once 🙂 hopefully my skin will grow thicker SOON though lol.

      I thought that {developmentally children won’t stimulate him the way we can} but started to doubt my way of thinking after that conversation. Doubt = bad and I KNOW I need to stop doubting myself! I’m working on it 🙂

  5. Cri

    i am emphatically nodding with everyone, while dropping food down my shirt. yay for wise women!

  6. Tug

    Aw damn. ((HUGS)) Mean people suck.

    Kids do things (talk, walk, become rebels, grow the hell up) at all different levels & ages. NO ONE has a measuring stick that’s reliable. Nolan is a happy kid, and THAT? Is what matters. He’s loved. Muchly. (word? WORD)

    My grandson was the only child/grandchild until he was 6. My parents watched him while my daughter worked until he started school. Guess what? He’s awesome. He loves hanging out with his friends, playing baseball, soccer, etc…but he can also play on his own WITHOUT NEEDING SOMEONE TO HELP HIM. He doesn’t need to “be entertained”…he does it himself. If you’d see him at a baseball game, at school, you’d NEVER know he spent so much time as the ‘only kid’.

    I know it’s SO much easier to listen to the bad & the criticism than the good, but please know that YOU are doing an awesome job. Don’t ever doubt it…don’t ever let anyone tell you any different.

  7. Every day. Every FREAKING DAY.

    And yet, I still know that I’m doing just fine. You are too. You totally are. You love him, you make him smile, you are the light of his life.

    You are doing FINE.

  8. miss.words

    Jess you and Matt are Nolan’s parents which mean that only you two can say whats right and wrong and what you should and shouldn’t do. and when and where you should be. yes i know its summer you two “should” be out and a bout but if your weather is anything like mine. its not worth leaving the house either its super hot or its raining. you are a great mom and honestly my mommy role model. i love you have fun Saturday. wish i could be there. but i know one day i will drag your ass out here for my wedding 🙂

    • Lol sometimes it’s not that simple missy, sometimes the nay-sayers CAN have an affect on you BECAUSE you simply want to do whats best for your child. But you’re right: it’s either pouring out or way too hot. Aww thank you, I didn’t know I was your mommy role model lol. I will have fun, but the wedding is Friday! 😀 heh.

      And just make sure you don’t get married until I can afford the trip out lmao.

      • miss.words

        lol wow im terrible with dates. hows October 2010. we have that much. just haven’t set the day. shhh im not supposed to tell anyone though. Gavin informed me hes buying a ring this weekend, and he will propose some time before august 28th, but hes not sure which day yet. man way to make me all full of excitement.

        guess i am used to people telling me how to parent every moment as gavins family have been doing that since day one. nowwhen anyone says anything i just say uhuh ok. lol.

      • It’s okay 🙂 USUALLY people get married on Saturday, but Matt and I aren’t usual and I wanted the 23rd for our date 🙂 hehe. Um, well, see for the next 2 years things are gonna be even tighter cause Matt’s in school and at the moment, I’m not working. If I do get a job it’ll be enough to cover day care and our expenses while Matt’s in school 😦 but by all means love, don’t postpone your wedding til I can afford to come {because seriously, you WANT to get married in THIS lifetime, right?}. ahha maybe I could skye myself there lmao!!!
        October is a beautiful month for a wedding, squee I’m so excited!

        And DON’T let anyone talk you out of getting married! I did that a few times, just let the ‘its not a good time’ comments get to me…but really, it’s never a good time which means its the PERFECT time lmfao!!!

        I’m excited 😀 keep me posted!

  9. I don’t have personal experience with this, obviously, but I never went to the beach as a kid and I still managed to learn to talk okay. Kids develop at different speeds, there’s nothing wrong with that. My nephew wasn’t even walking at Nolan’s age, and now he never sits still. Nolan will talk when he’s ready to talk. It’s asinine that someone would make you feel bad about the quickness of Nolan’s development, when anyone who knows anything about children knows they develop at different rates.

  10. You are doing just fine. Just breath. You’ll be okay.

  11. Jess, what you’re feeling is normal. Every mom has gone through it at some point, whether they want to admit it or not. My second daughter did not talk until she was nearly three and not from lack of stimulation either. Talking just wasn’t her thing. Now she won’t shut up. Go figure!

    You know what’s best for Nolan (and you) so push the guilt away. It will come and go as you do this whole parent gig, shit, my kids are 19, 13 and 10 and I’m still having it now and then when I stop to look at other families and what they do/don’t do. Anyway, you’re a great mom who’s been through a lot, and you manage to love and raise that boy and give him hundreds of kisses each day. That and food are all he needs right now. So don’t beat yourself up too much. What you feel is normal, what those other moms did was out of line, but also normal, because there is always someone who thinks they do it better than we do.

  12. (((hugs))) you should really tell anyone who says you are doing anything wrong with regards to YOUR son to go screw themselves. I have no idea why every single person in the world feels as if they have the right to judge other people’s parenting decisions or skills. No-one ever did a perfect job, you didn’t ask to have surgery or for the truck to break down and need repairs, but it happened and you and Matt dealt with it. Nolan hasn’t gone without anything he needs because of it, because all he really needs is a mummy and daddy who love and take care of him, everything else is just a bonus. As for the mummy guilt, it doesn’t go away but you will make yourself feel guilty enough without other people’s help. As mummy’s we always feel like there is something we should be doing better, that we are failing in one area or hell on a bad day all of them. Tell yourself or listen to Matt that you are doing a damn fine job, and remember that if you were doing it all perfectly now you would have nothing to aim for in the future. That’s the whole point of parenting for everything we teach them, we get to learn just as much in return. He’s healthy, he’s happy and he knows he is loved. It’s not like you are sitting him in an empty room all day everyday, you are engaging him and chatting to him and playing with him. That’s worth a lot more than any day trips/toys/treats. This quote says is one all mummies everywhere should, No one can make you feel inferior without your consent – Eleanor Roosevelt. Good luck with your wedding, I hope it all goes smoothly for you. Hugs Crystal xx

    • HAH! I WISH I had the balls to tell them to screw themselves lol. I love that quote, I should get it framed somewhere, where I can look at it every morning before I get up 🙂

      Thanks Crystal! I hope it goes smoothly for me too 🙂

  13. I must say that this person, I’m so glad h/she doesn’t have a name btw cuz they don’t deserve to be a “proper” noun!, has some nerve to actually have this conversation with you. HOW DARE THEY?!
    Nolan has a safe and secure atmosphere to grow up in. He has a healthy relationship with the people around him and everyone loves him and is helping him learn every day. That’s a lot more important than this whole nonsense about stimulation. I hate these new parenting jargon. As if you’re training your babies to turn into some kind of super race of people.
    Please don’t get yourself dragged down because of this. You’re better than that and you know it.
    Don’t let people get to you – they have only one job in life and that is to talk about other people!
    Chill Jess. Nolan is a gorgeous and smart baby and you’re a great mother to him. Never let yourself think otherwise even for a second because without your realising it’ll reflect on him. Kids are very sensitive to these things, so don’t get bogged down…
    xxxxx Shruthi

    • A super race of people? I never thought of it that way but I suppose that’s what it’s leading too…attempts at a super race! Heh. Of course, I do see the benefits of most of the jargon and literature on how to help our kids grow to be the best that they can, but like you said…it’s almost as if society wants super beings lol. {Super beings would be cool though…if they had flying powers! Sorry, haven’t had my coffee yet…}

      The remarkable comments and support I’ve gotten from writing about this has definitely pulled me back up, yes I was feeling down for a bit there but the support and kind words has lifted me again. Sometimes that’s all you need.

      Thank you love!

  14. Wandered over here from Karen’s tweet… everyone else has said good stuff about the parenting police, so I won’t go on about that. I will say that I totally understand feeling bad because maybe you don’t have the magical energy you assumed you would for endless playdates, family trips, and stimulating journeys around the neighbourhood. There is always a small part of me that feels like I should be doing more (even though I already do quite a bit, when I think about it calmly – and I’ll bet you do, too.)

  15. DUDE.

    this post totally broke my heart. you know i made the decisions i made because i was (so very, very, VERY) young. but i know in my heart that if i could be half the mother you are, that i would have been more than okay. you & matt make all the decisions in your life based on nolan and his future. you decided put up with the drama of living with JDC so that you guys could move out comfortably- that’s such a selfless move. you gave up your car and freedom during the day because matt needed the car to get to work- to PAY for nolan’s expenses and cover rent and other bills. money may be tight right now, and it may be stressful and a lot of work, but it’s very clear that you and matt are doing everything in your power to give nolan a wonderful life. and as far as i’m concerned? you’re doing a damn good job at it. nolan has two (awesome) loving parents who live for him. matt works like crazy, but you guys still make a point to have family time. you want to do things like go to the beach, or take trips, or bring nolan out more… but you can’t necessarily do that right now because of the wedding, and money situation (that will pass). so the fact that you spend every day stimulating (yes, you do stimulate him!) him, playing with him, reading to him, listening to music with him… honey… you’re doing a damn good job. i’ve already told you that i’m blown away by how well you juggle the drama, the stress, your emotions. i wish you would stand up for yourself more, because you’re so damn good at being a mom, being a (wife! omg 3 days!), and being a friend.

    sorry for the novel!


    – e

  16. My 2nd child didn’t start talking (I mean really talking) until she was about 4. Then she spoke in complete paragraphs. Well-thought-out, well-articulated paragraphs. Now her oldest child is 2 and she just got similar feedback from the pediatrician. “He should have a larger vocabulary and he should be combining words.” Hmph.

    You may have deduced I’m well into the parenting game and I can tell you that mama guilt can plague us until we start to see our children as adults…and maybe even then. You seem to see the guilt for what it is. Try (I know, I know) to dial it back to a healthy level of worry. I’ve also learned the importance of praying for my children. That helps a lot too. God created Nolan and He will help you raise him.

    • Oh jeeze, I really get to deal with this guilt until he’s an adult? LOL. I usually have a healthy level of worry; I think I can thank all this wedding stress and house situation stress for this current state of blah…

      Thank you for your comment, it was greatly appreciated 🙂

  17. I wish I were closer so that I could give you a hug, and then go kick somebody’s butt.

    First of all: You’re a great mother. The fact that you feel guilty is an indication that you care.. We have all felt the “mommy guilt” from time to time, whether it originates from a sideways comment from somebody else, or from our own psyche. Also? Usually when people feel the need to put others down, it’s an indication of just how insecure they feel.

    Babies are stimulated by the very world around them, soaking up information at a mile a minute! And you’re doing a great job helping him with that! You’re in no way required to shuffle him between baby ballet, baby gymnastics, baby yoga, and baby calculus lessons, because, well, he’s a baby. And a “hell raiser”? What is he doing, coming home from the baby bar past his baby curfew?

    Your skin will grow thicker as time goes on. With my first (at 19), I’d be upset over a comment some old lady made at Walmart. Seven years later? I tap my finger on my lips, roll my eyes a bit, then turn back and say, “Funny….I can’t for the life of me remember when I sought out your approval.”

    • And a “hell raiser”? What is he doing, coming home from the baby bar past his baby curfew?

      Oh. My. Gawd. I died laughing. And really, I should be taking him to baby calculus lessons, I’m a horrid mother for stunting his growth so teehee lmfao.

      I suppose skin does grow thicker. It’s just something I’m going to have to deal with until my skin is thick enough to come up with the kick ass retorts!

  18. P.S. My blackberry ate half a comment I started to make, so I don’t know if it made it’s way to your comment moderation thingee. Use the second one if it did! 🙂

  19. Blaine

    I sure hope after all of these awesome comments, you feel better. Do things your way. Overstimulation is a pretty bad thing, too. If Nolan gets TOO used to always being entertained at playgroups and play dates and whatever else, the one day you don’t have anything planned, that’s when he’ll be horrible.

    I hate that everyone pits their children against each other. I do it, sometimes, too, and worry that I am not reading or talking enough, or bringing Eric out enough, but I don’t know any other babies in this town (soon, that will change, I hope, my friend is moving here.) and frankly, it doesn’t matter. Eric is content, Nolan is content, that’s all that matters.

    Glad you have such a wonderful supply of positive people (see above.) Maybe bookmark this post to re-read the comments if you ever have a bad day.

    In the meantime, try to find ways to politely tell these people they are being out of line telling you what to do. Maybe something along the lines of, ‘I’m glad those methods are working for you, but we have our own parenting methods, too.’

    If they continue to judge, politely excuse yourself, and talk to someone more mature, like the 4 year old eating his or her own boogers. 🙂

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