Guilty of Not Feeling Guilty
By Winnie Yu
Guilty of NOT feeling guilty! Not long ago, I decided I wanted to write a blog about mom guilt. My thoughts leaped around. The sentences wouldn’t gel. Paragraphs refused to flow. I set the blog aside and took off to a writer’s conference. There in my hotel room, I realized a simple truth: I didn’t really feel that guilty.
And that’s when the guilt set in.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m no stranger to mom guilt. Who is? Mom guilt comes in all forms and from all directions. Me? I used to feel guilty for almost everything I did. I felt guilty for working. I felt guilty when I didn’t work. I felt guilty when I missed field trips. I felt guilty when I fed my kids fast food. I felt guilty for parking them in front of the TV so I could finish a project. I often felt as if everything I did wasn’t enough or wasn’t right.
Guilt became a part of life — a way of being. Perhaps because it was so pervasive, it became a bit like breathing — something I experienced every day and simply had to accept.
But over the years, especially as my daughters got older and I saw that they were fine, the guilt began to lessen. I began to realize that it really is OK to take time for myself, to pursue a career and to do things that break the rules I’d set for myself. I realized that my being away from them for a short period of time wasn’t going to make or break them. I realized that the occasional trip to a fast-food restaurant wasn’t going to destroy their health.
Truth is, motherhood evolves and unfolds in its own unique way for every woman. There are no commandments to abide by. Skipping field trips doesn’t make you a lesser mother, and getting an occasional spa treatment or attending a work conference doesn’t, either. What matters is your constant presence and love, and it’s the rare mom who doesn’t provide that.
Still, I do suffer the occasional pang of guilt for liberating myself of mother guilt. When that happens, I remind myself that I’ve had my share and paid my dues. If time has allowed me to acquire some perspective, then OK: I’m guilty as charged.
is Completely You’s mom blogger. She has two daughters (Samantha, 14, and Annie, 12) and is the author of seven books, including New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding and What to Eat for What Ails You. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Woman’s Day, AARP Bulletin, Prevention and WebMD.com.