Over the last few days I’ve realized that I’m infected to an unhealthy degree with mom guilt. I never expected to be affected as much as I have been. I thought I had a reasonable sense of my own limits and needs and that I would be able to take care of my daughter while also meeting my needs. In fact, I find it nearly impossible to put my expectations of her needs out of my head. Almost everything I do, I’m thinking of her and thinking that I should be doing more/ different/ better.
Where did this come from? Probably it’s to be expected with my tendencies towards perfectionism. I suspect breastfeeding problems feed into it as well, though really anything could be fodder for guilt.
Is mom guilt a problem? Yes. When I feel guilty I am less present no matter what I’m doing – whether “relaxing” or playing with baby.
What is the solution? I have only a small sense of that right now. I know that reasonable thinking (think real thinking and cognitive behavioural therapy) can help. So when I freak out because she won’t nurse, I remind myself that she has a cold so this is to be expected and the state of her feeding is in constant flux so it will likely turn around soon. Realizing how resilient she is will probably also help: she can and is growing amazingly well and happily and can survive a lot more bumps and obstacles than she experiences. And perhaps a desire to enjoy life and pass that trait on to her may help me kick guilt to the curb when it comes.
But still, there it is. I went to an enjoyable brunch today with old friends (gone for a couple of hours) and so had a hard time letting my husband take her for a walk while I watched Netflix. I should be with her all the time, and fully attentive to her when we’re together … shouldn’t I? And since I’m going back to work, I really DEFINITELY should spend all my spare time with her.
Or, I should trust that she’s growing and doing well, check in with my own motives and actions but allow myself to be human and take time out.
I suspect dealing with this issue will be a long-term prospect.