(Mom) Guilty as Charged (Mom Guilt, Part 1)

A little bit about myself. I work in full-time ministry. I am also a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. These are my “paid” vocations but my full FULL time gig is wife and mama of 4 little ones. Not to mention the number of volunteer hats I wear in their lives—Room Mom, PTA, AYSO, USA Softball, and more. Oh, and let’s compound it with the fact that I was raised and identify as a pretty stereotypical overachieving Japanese American…not that you couldn’t tell already. Just because I “do it all” though doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with a cost—Mom Guilt.

Mom Guilt? Is that really a thing? Trust me, mom guilt is not only real but REALLY difficult and even dangerous to get ensnared by. The dangerous element of mom guilt is that it can slowly sneak up on you. You can think you’re immune, but over time it stealthily grabs hold of your heart and mind. Mom guilt has grabbed you. Here are some signs of mom guilt.

1) Thoughts of inadequacy. Scrolling through Pinterest is a brutal reminder of what “good moms” whip up for class snacks or teacher gifts. Instagram and Facebook depict parent-child moments that seem like they’re out of a magazine rather than reality. Then you feel like there is you and your child(ren)…nothing worthy of being pinned, tagged, or posted. You fall short of these marks and your own expectations of what motherhood “is supposed to look like.”

2) Feeling like “there’s not enough time”. In the fast-paced, busy culture we live in, this may be a “normal feeling.” However, this feeling is more nagging and persevering. The number of plates that are spinning or balls you are juggling is innumerable. It feels like there is simply never enough time to do or be all that you aspire to do/be. And you are particularly short on time to spend with and for your child. Often feels like survival mode.

3) Low self-worth/esteem. Compounding inadequacy are feelings like you are an unworthy mama not living up to par in your parenting role. Sure, you are getting things done at work or in the house but you are often left to question your “performance” as a mother. Your feelings of value and worth as a mama are less than fulfilling.

4) Depressive/anxious symptoms. Have your sleep patterns shifted where more sleep is needed OR less sleep is achievable? What about appetite and eating habits? Is it difficult to concentrate? Are your thoughts all over the place or even racing? Is your motivation or hope for mama self-improvement lowered? This does NOT mean you are diagnostically depressed or anxious BUT some of the symptoms can and do overlap.

This is not an exhaustive list of “Mom Guilt” symptoms. These are just some of the key warning signs to be aware of. We’ll talk further in a separate blog on what to do if you can relate to and identify with Mom Guilt. For now, just know that if this sounds like you:

  • You are NOT alone. There are hundreds and thousands of mamas in this same boat and club.
  • Reach out. Whether you need to seek medical professional care, therapy, accountability, small group…bottom line do not go it alone. Seek out the power of community to lift you up and walk alongside you.
  • (Re)connect with God. Start somewhere and talk with your Heavenly Father to get plugged in to the best parenting source we have available 24/7.