How Do You Cope with Mommy Guilt in a Healthy Way?

My daughter was born almost 16 years ago. It seems like just the other day she was living inside my womb. Life and kids themselves have a way of reminding us of how quickly time gets away.

Recently, while preparing for an adult’s weekend getaway. I hesitated pondered a thought. Was I wrong to go on a trip without my daughter? Mommy guilt was intruding into my mind. We usually hear about mommy guilt from new mothers. Leaving a newborn at home is heartbreaking. A piece of our heart is ripped out each day we leave them whether for work or to run errands.

My baby is a teenager! You would think after all this time, I’d be used to moments absent from her life. The second I found out about my pregnancy, I lived for her. As with any expectant mother, news of a baby changes life completely. She became a priority, soon as I knew babygirl existed. She decided the way I’d live my life in every aspect. Dictatinh what I ate, when I slept, when I’d wake and how much energy would go into my day. It was life’s miracle.

She’s grown older which has given me a certain amount of freedom back. Over the course of the past few years, I’ve had to force myself to take advantage of some free time. It’s always been a struggle and continues to be because I’m a mother first. The lesson I’ve had to learn is that in order to be the best mom I can be – I have to be happy, as well. Taking time for me. Taking time to pause and think. Taking moments to be with myself are important to my well-being. These spurts of time allow balance into my life. I spent years dedicating every shred of myself to my husband, daughter and job. Divorce gave me the opportunity to adapt to a different type of giving. Initially, instincts were to pour all of myself into her. It took me a bit of time to figure out that too was unhealthy because smothering her was not good for either of us. I wanted to make sure she would never feel like she didn’t have me. The idea she could be missing out on anything was crippling. I created a world of culpability making me feel that if I wasn’t there even for an hour I was failing her in some way.

Eventually, my daughter began school. Her father remarried making a family of his own. Teachers, friends, a second family and others came into the picture. It served as a wake up call to the reality that the guilt I was experiencing might have been more. Thinking back, it’s possible that I wanted to feel badly so I’d have an excuse. A reason not to live my life since that would be easier than admitting to myself that she just might be fine without me. Children adjust better than adults at times. The truth is we need them more than they need us. As they get older their needs change making us face the ugly moment. Having to let go of our babies.

Women give everything they have to make others happy. Emptying their bag of physical and emotional energy into relationships with partners, children and work. It’s in our nature to do all we can for everyone else. What would happen if you take some of that love to care for yourself first? Spreading the remainder across to the ones that require your attention.

When they’re at a young age they need so much of us. However, we must try to give ourselves time. It’s in our best interest as well as our children’s.  They don’t understand the concept of time. I think it’s important to teach them if we go away for bits at a time. They can rely on us to return to them. They need space to grow, as do we. Of course, the right circumstances should be in place. We can only do these things when both mother and child feel secure and comfortable.

This all takes getting used to, it also takes practice. Finding a healthy balance is essential for each individual’s development.  As a caretaker, you will choose to nurture all the needs of those you love. It is natural and part of the beauty that makes us women. The key to feeling whole is to balance the two parts. Happiness starts with you. Doing the things that bring you joy will provide you with more energy to give more and more love to your family, partner and the work you do.

Begin with a simple pleasure – what is one thing you can do for yourself today? 

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