Talking About Mommyhood Guilt
As mothers, we face challenges from the groggy moment we wake up to the blissful feeling of laying our head down at night. From sleepless nights to toddler tantrums, there is hardly a dull moment in motherhood! But one aspect has been weighing on my mind, especially since having my second baby...the mommy guilt.
I was so worried that adding a second child to what felt like our already busy life would change everything. I worried that my son would be jealous of the new baby. I worried that I wouldn't be able to handle two babies. And mostly, I worried that I wouldn't be a good mom.
My worries did become a reality. My son WAS jealous of the new baby. He cried when I tended to her first. He pulled on my pant leg and cried for me while I tried to rock her to sleep. He climbed on me in the rocking chair while I nursed her. He missed having my full attention, and I missed giving it to him.
I tried my hardest to keep his life as normal as possible. If the baby slept, I rushed to play with him, to read to him, to hold him. I ignored housework and my own needs in order to give him as much attention as possible. But then the guilt shifted.
I started craving the newborn snuggles. Like I did when I first had my son, I just wanted to hold him while he slept throughout the day. I wanted to just hold her, stare at her, and nurse her without distraction. I felt like I was losing that bonding time with my daughter.
I found myself crying every day, sometimes more than once. Splitting my love between my children was the ultimate challenge.
I so badly wanted to give 100% of me to both of my children, and I just couldn't. I lost weight because I was barely eating. I became irritable and moody. I would feel badly about myself when I took the time to shower, because the baby would cry when I put her down. I felt badly about myself when I didn't have time to steam vegetables for his dinner. The guilt consumed me.
It took a few weeks before I figured out a routine that helped me find a balance. I used her morning nap as an opportunity to take my son outside to play. I used his nap in the afternoon as an opportunity to have bonding time with my daughter. I finally started to realize that I needed to give myself a break. My children are so incredibly loved, and there is only so much I can do each day given the circumstances. Some days I feel like I have it all together...other days I feel like I can't get anything right. And that's ok. Life in general is a series of ups and downs...so why did I expect it to be perfect with a newborn and a toddler?! I think we need to lower our expectations sometimes. Our houses won't always be perfectly clean, and sometimes our children will need to go without our attention for a few minutes. Putting so much pressure on ourselves isn't good for anyone in the family. We need to love ourselves and recognize all the good things we are doing for our children. It's easier said than done, but it's essential. Our babies need healthy, happy mommies.
I am a wife to David, mommy to Noah and Cecelia, and special education teacher to some amazing children. Born and raised a Jersey girl, I now live in Tampa, Florida.