Mom Guilt: Feeling Alone and Lost?
Updated: Sep 6, 2020
I stumbled upon this old entry I wrote when I was approximately one month postpartum. I remember feeling so incredibly guilty over the massive shift in my attention and feeling like I wasn't measuring up in all the other facets of my life. I am sharing this in hopes that other moms who may identify with these feelings will understand that they are not in this alone. It is so normal to feel lost as you work to discover your new normal. As always, talking about these kinds of feelings are the best way to navigate them and if you are concerned about the intensity of any negative thoughts or feelings, please reach out to your PCP or OBGYN as soon as possible. You don't have to suffer through this alone.
Mom guilt. I’ve been told mom guilt takes many different forms. For me, it’s not a guilt I feel towards my child - though sometimes I do wonder if I put him in his swing for too long as a distraction so I can do something else around the house. For me, my guilt is geared more towards EVERYONE ELSE in the house.
Is my dog getting enough attention? She didn’t get belly rubs this afternoon and I BARELY squeezed in her walk. I actually contemplated not doing it but I forced myself because it’s the ONE thing she still gets in her day. At least I remembered to give her her treats. She’s such a good girl. Does she know how important she still is?
I tripped over my cat again while rushing to a diaper change - does he feel unimportant? I’ve had him since I was 10 and he has adjusted to all of my life changes with grace, but now he gets less attention than ever. Sometimes he seems to prefer that but other times he seems lonely and wants cuddles....but alas, I have to get up right as he is curling on my lap to go get my sons paci that he dropped...again. When I turn around, my cat has opted to just go curl up behind the rocking chair...alone.
Do I check in with my husband enough? Do I tell him he is appreciated enough? He does so much to support me and help make sure I am taking care of myself. Does he feel ignored? He hasn’t done anything for just himself in a month...will that make him resent me? He really should take the time for himself. Sometimes I even feel my brain drifting when he is trying to talk to me about his day after work - will I have time to do laundry before dinner? Why can’t I get our son to burp after this bottle? Wait....was that a burp? Or a gurgle? I can’t tell - I wasn’t paying attention. Shoot...I forgot to call pest control today and he had asked me to do that. I also forgot to take the UPS Package to the store....again. Crap...our son dropped his paci. And I didn’t hear that last thing my husband said. Did he notice? Does he think I don’t care? I really do! I want to know about his day. I should take more time for him. I miss him. I miss us.
One year later as I reflect on this post, I feel the need to express something to you that I wish I could go back and say to myself: Momma - if no one had told you today...you need to know that you are so, SO amazing. You carry the world on your shoulders, a human on your hip and their world in your eyes. It's ok to feel lost and guilty - your life just took a twist that nothing but raw experience can prepare you for. It's ok to cry in the bathroom. It's ok to miss yourself. I see you. I feel your sense of loss, and even grief, over the life you had and the people you may not be able to keep so high on your priority list anymore. This doesn't mean they aren't a priority anymore though. Change isn't negative and no one is thinking those awful things about you that your head may be whispering. I know this doesn't make it any less real for you right now though. BUT THIS IS NOT A TRAGIC ENDING TO YOUR LIFE AS YOU KNEW IT. No pretty lady. This is a blank slate that is giving you the opportunity to learn more about yourself and your capabilities than you ever knew before. It is chance to have a "big girl" conversation with yourself about who you are, what is important, how you can grow and how you can be the best version of yourself.
If you have a significant other through this journey, now is the time to check in. You may be surprised that they have some of the same feelings and fears as well. Admitting your feelings and saying your fears out loud to each other will get you two on the same page so you can work as a team TOGETHER instead of just alongside each other (I promise you there is a difference). Also, and I cannot say this loud enough, TALK TO OTHER MOMS. Your mom, your mom friend, your mom friend's mom, online mom groups. in-person mom groups and heck - even my mom (I'll share her).
If you are navigating this solo, you may be a single parent but you are not alone in the world. You are no less worthy of being told you are important, incredible, strong and most certainly capable. It may not feel like it every day but you are KILLING it. Do not let this guilt consume you or define you. Seek support and don't worry - I won't tell anyone that even superwoman needs a little help. The hospital you had your baby at will likely be able to point you in the direction of single-parent groups coordinated by women just as amazing as you. Parenthood is a wonderful common ground to create life-long friendships.
No one says parenting is easy. They just say it’s worth it. 💕