An Open Letter to Mom Guilt…

Dear Mom Guilt,

You suck. This weekend should have been fabulous. No kids. No responsibilities. Just me and My Love. But no…It was not fabulous. It was quite awful, in fact, because of you.

Ever since I became a mom 7 years ago, you have been nagging at my sanity…

I cannot fully enjoy time away from my kids because you make me feel awful at every turn.

You keep telling me that I should be with them, right by their sides…NOT out enjoying things while we’re apart.

You’re their mom. You say.

They need you. You say.

You can’t leave them with someone else because they will miss you. 

It’s exhausting keeping up with them.

You’re taking too long.

Hurry back.

Hurry back.

Hurry back.  

This is the kind of inner talk that eats away at my fun each time I get a chance to go out. And eventually, Mom Guilt, your taunting drives me to madness until I am so miserable I shrug my shoulders and head home.

You suck, Mom Guilt, and I’ve had enough…

I’m getting rid of you for good.

Mom Guilt Will Not Ruin Another Day for me…

Okay, okay…That was a major cheese fest.

But I sat down to write this letter after Matt and I got home from a mini getaway.  It should’ve been great. I mean, we have 4 really young kids, so getting away, even for one night…That’s a freaking miracle of major proportions.

But it seeped in. I felt if from the moment we left…

The Mom Guilt plagued my mind, and I couldn’t shake it.  

I wanted to let loose and have a fun time, but my heart was torn between the possibility of fun and what we had left behind at home.  

And don’t you for one darn second think that I was hiding my anxiety well…

No, no, no. It affected my attitude the entire time.  

You see, when I am full of big feelings that I don’t deal with, the ones I love pay the biggest price…

So instead of being the fun, outgoing person that I normally am, my big feelings turned into nasty bitterness. 

Not a fun time.

As we drove home, after I had been a complete pain in the rear to be around, Matt reminded me of an important point…

He said,  We should really enjoy every day while we have it. We always think that it is just one bad day…that it is no big deal because we will have another day tomorrow. But eventually, we run out of days. And pretty soon they’ll all be gone.

(Side note…I’m not sure whether to label that as “insightful” or as “spousal guilt,” but it was what I needed to get out of my pit.)

That brought me back to what really mattered…

So often I waste precious time worrying about nonsense instead of being in the moment with the ones I love.

You know How Mom Guilt Works…

You get the rare chance to go out for the day with a friend, and the guilt monster comes too…That little butt hits play on the internal cassette tape…I shouldn’t be here…Am I neglecting my kids?

But it’s not just when you’re away…Mom Guilt hangs around while you’re doing normal stuff too…

Like when you play with the kids…I should be doing something else…What other work am I neglecting right now?  

Mom Guilt steals the joy from our moments and leaves us with nothing but a handful of “wish I would’ve done more of that.”

But can we fix it? Or are moms just perpetually broken and unable to experience any joy at all?

Well, I’m not sure that it is a forever cure, but I can tell you what I’m doing for now that is helping the Mom Guilt melt away (hopefully) for good.

1. Write.

Writing always helps me.

There’s something magical about getting things out of my brain and onto paper that makes them easier to sort through.  

So when I get overwhelmed, I write it out.  

You can start by answering these three questions…

What are my feelings?  

Why are they here?  

Where are they coming from?

2. Acknowledge it out loud.  

If I would’ve done this at the beginning of our trip, I would’ve avoided the misery that I put myself (and the person I love most in this world) through.  

We could’ve talked through it at the start instead of blowing it up and cleaning it up at the end.

So when you feel that Mom Guilt monster creeping up on you, take a second and say it outloud to someone.

You know, I’m feeling really guilty that I am at work right now instead of at the school Christmas party with my kids.

You’ll feel better when that feeling gets some oxygen. 

3. Practice makes perfect…or at least better.

The best way to get really good at something is to practice.  

That doesn’t mean you have to go away every weekend, but it means that you have to put in some work.

We can practice being mindful of our emotions when we START to feel them rather than letting them build up over time.

There’s nothing that you can’t get good at given enough practice, so get to it Momma. 

Because, I don’t know about you, but I refuse to let Mom Guilt run my life for one more day.