Let’s Talk About Mom Guilt

Published on: October 18, 2019

There is no such thing as being a perfect mom when it comes to raising kids. If we are doing our best, then why do we feel guilty? One mom explores the feeling of unreasonable guilt about raising her kid.

By Ankita Sodhia   I might be making a bold and controversial statement here by saying that “mom’s guilt is a figment of every mom’s imagination.” Hear me out and see if you agree or disagree with me.  First, let’s define mom’s guilt. It’s that horrible (and for lack of a better way to describe it) beat-myself-up-for-not-doing-enough-or-doing-the-right-thing-for-my-child feeling every mom has when she makes any decision that impacts her kids. Whether it’s the decision to stop pumping milk, or to return to work, or to allow TV time so that she can have me-time. Even thoughts about sleep training or hiring a nanny will be ridden with mom’s guilt.  I have so many moments when mom’s guilt slowly rolls into my mind like a grey storm cloud waiting to burst on a bright sunny day. Then I wait for the metaphorical mental and emotional storm to slowly clear as I grapple with my decisions and wonder if what I’m doing is good enough for my kid. 
But the truth is: there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to raising kids…
Mom’s guilt has hit me repeatedly over the smallest choices to the largest decisions since becoming a mom.  I want to talk about why I believe mom’s guilt is a figment of every mom’s imagination. Mom’s guilt isn’t actually guilt per se; I think it’s a mom’s coping mechanism for having to make compromises every day because life cannot always be perfect — something’s always gotta give. But accepting this simple fact is where mom’s guilt starts to creep into our imaginations. We begin to have visions and think about imaginary scenarios where our children’s lives are perfect (again, by some unrealistic standard we have created) and we guilt ourselves for having to make compromises. I’ll illustrate with a simple example from my experience. After my maternity leave ended, I guilted myself into going back to work because I thought it was the right thing to do to help with my son’s future. The compromise I had to make was to hire a nanny to help look after my son while I was away. I started to feel guilty for being away from my son, and I quit my job a few months later. So then the compromise was not to work as much and forego a steady income. I was feeling guilty, no matter what option I chose. Practically speaking, I shouldn’t feel guilty because I only had two options and while neither offered a perfect solution — they were pretty reasonable compromises.
…mom’s guilt is a figment of every mom’s imagination.
Remember, something’s always gotta give. So my question here is: why then does this unreasonable, illogical, gut-wrenching guilt hit moms (no matter what, apparently!)?  I think it’s because we always want the best for our kids. We want to be sure we are doing our very best for them. In this quest for perfection for our children, we have this self-created guilt that seems to chew away at us when things seem less than ideal. But the truth is: there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to raising kids; it’s a series of compromises we are making every day in an effort to do our best for them. And if we are doing our best, then what do we (ever) have to feel guilty about?   

About the Author

Ankita is a digital marketing consultant, lifestyle blogger, and expat mom based in Bangkok. After almost a decade in corporate marketing, Ankita launched her boutique digital marketing consultancy for the hospitality industry in 2018. As a side hustle, Ankita runs a lifestyle blog, ankitasodhia.com, focused on expat life with kids in Bangkok. Ankita grew up in Bangkok and now lives here with her husband, son, and dog.
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