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MAMA TALK - The Guilt Ridden Mom

Heather is a mother of two boys who lives in North Carolina. A degree in Theater from Rutgers University has been absolutely no use in learning how to care for her boys, so she shares what she's learned from personal experience.

I think from the moment of conception a seed of another sort is implanted, the seed of guilt. I know now I am not alone in this and felt I should shed some light on this topic, as it seems to live in all parents to some degree. Here is a glimpse into my experiences as a guilt-ridden parent.

I can remember, even in my early days of pregnancy with my first son this sense of guilt on one level or another. All the common worries of being a good parent begin to set in and bring on the beginnings of this phenomenon called guilt. The idea that you are now responsible for another life, a life that you can either damage or foster, can be overwhelming and guilt provoking. This guilt while pregnant ranged from what I ate: did I eat too much of, or didn’t eat enough of, if I didn’t work out at the gym, or if I did. Were my pants too tight around my belly? Was I harming my unborn baby when I poked my belly in curiosity to feel his little feet? If I didn’t lie on my left side at all times could I be damaging his brain? Oh no, I woke up on my back - could I have cut off his oxygen? Could that medicine my doctor told me I could take cause a birth defect? What was right and what wasn’t? The guilt and the worry were growing as the baby inside me grew.

After my first son Logan was born the guilt grew stronger. Was I doing enough to help him learn his colors and shapes? If I let him play by himself, was I not paying him enough attention-even though I just spent two hours playing non-stop? Was I a horrible mom to let him cry it out at night in order to try and get him to learn that I wasn’t always going to run in and save him- and was that in itself evil and uncaring?

It seemed that although all I wanted was to be the very best parent for my precious baby I always had a sense of guilt. At first I thought maybe I was over the top, feeling guilty so much. In my heart I knew I was a good mom and that I was doing a lot to nurture and care for my son, but was it ever enough?

I never mentioned this guilt to anybody, not even my husband whom I told everything, I guess because I thought no one would understand this drive for perfect parenting and the guilt associated with it. I was so concerned about being a good parent. I knew I was doing things quite well, especially for a first time mom, but I also knew how smart and wonderful my son was and I felt like I had such an amazing, precious life in my hands, I did not want to do anything to mess him up unknowingly. Then one day I mentioned this guilt ridden feeling to a friend whose opinion I trusted and who had a little boy the same age. “Do you ever just feel like your can never do enough, like no matter what you always feel guilty that you could or should be doing more? Her response, “Oooh yeah! All the time...” Wow- I was not alone. I wasn’t crazy and I wasn’t so over the top. That conversation made me realize that other women felt the same way and that I was not so crazy for caring so intensely for my child. None the less- the guilty feelings continued…

And if I thought raising my first child left me feeling guilty, having my second baby; Maddox, I learned the true meaning of guilt.

To be continued...

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User Comments:
Sara Zalesky said:
I feel the same guilt, for being a working mom. The guilt of having someone else raise your child because you are providing the roof over his head. It never goes away!
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