When I was pregnant with my first baby, I had these visions and hopes of having happy, well-adjusted, smart kids. I was going to do everything right and we were going to raise our children differently than the generation before us. Oh my. Imagine the pressure I put on myself to achieve that!
If you’re a mom it is highly likely you have experienced mom guilt. I would be very surprised if you haven’t. Where does it come from? Is it the pressure we put on ourselves? Is it the pressure from our parents or in-laws? Is it the pressure from the outside world to have the happiest, smartest, most well-adjusted kids? Wherever it is coming from . . . it is something we all deal with. Moms from all backgrounds feel guilt.
While my kids are awesome and amazing in their own ways, I have learned something in the past almost two years since this health crisis began. Being a mom during a pandemic brings a whole new host of guilt. Let me give you a little back story: When the pandemic started, I had a six-year-old, a four-year-old, and a two-year-old. My toddler was a delight. She was “easy.” She was so laid back. She and I would spend our mornings playing, going to music classes, the library, parks, etc. We had time, just the two of us. We would pick up my middle child from preschool midday and then she would nap until it was time to retrieve my oldest kiddo from school.
Then March 2020 happened. All of a sudden her whole world changed — everyone was home. All.The.Time.
As a mom and a teacher. I dove in and took on the challenge of organizing materials, following our lessons given to us by our school, and teaching my older children. I did not neglect my youngest, but everything we had once done changed. She no longer had my undivided attention. Instead of having her mother whenever she wanted, she now had to share me with her two siblings. Not only that, but she had two parents, who like most parents, were unsure and anxious about this pandemic.
Here we are creeping up on two years in this pandemic and we are seeing the effects. The mom guilt has crept in. We recently sat across the table from our daughter’s preschool teacher and she shared with us that our youngest child has an inability to stay with a task for more than a few minutes. She is a busy kid. This was not news to us because we see it at home, too. The guilt I feel as her mom. If I had only been more attentive to her needs when the pandemic started! If I had not put so much pressure on myself to make sure my older two didn’t fall behind. Maybe she would be in a better place socially.
There are always so many what and should haves.
- Should I have not worried so much about my kids’ academic progress?
- Should I have spent more time trying to play more with each of my kids? Believe me, we did play . . . a lot.
- Was I putting too much pressure on my school aged kiddos?
- Should I have (fill in the blank)?
What I have ultimately learned is that we need to give ourselves grace. There are so many things during this time that are beyond our control.
We are having to parent in the midst of a pandemic. There has not been examples before us of how to do this. We have to do our best with what we have to parent. We cannot allow others to make us feel guilty for how they choose to parent.
Parenthood is hard enough but then you throw in the divisiveness of our current world.
- Do you mask your kids or not?
- Does your child get the vaccine or not?
- Do you allow your kids to have play dates with friends or do sports?
The list goes on.
We are all worried about how this will forever impact our kids socially and academically. What I am learning at this time is that we need to give ourselves the space to live imperfectly. We need to allow ourselves to mess up and to realize our mistakes and move forward. We need to remember kids are resilient. They will recover from this. And if things get to a point that seems unmanageable, we will advocate for our kids and get them the help they need.
And as for you, fellow mom or parent, realize all of the things you are doing well. You are doing your best to keep your kids safe. You are doing your best to make sure your kids needs are being met.
Even if you feel you have a short fuse some days or that you should have done things differently, realize that every day is a new day to start anew and to move forward. Let’s try not to compare ourselves to other parents on social media or the mom you see in the grocery store that seemingly has it all together. Let’s have faith in ourselves as people and faith that our kids are awesome.
And — that child of mine who is challenging — she is amazing and she melts my heart every day with her kindness and love. I know, deep down, that she will be okay even if we are in a hard season.
Even through the challenges we are all facing right now, our kids deserve grace and so do we. When that guilt creeps in, stomp on it like you would a bug, and hold your head high because even though you are not perfect, you are the perfect parent for your kids.