Rita is a mom of four boys who blogs at Fighting off Frumpy so she doesn’t go crazy. (It may not be working, but at least she has a funny chronicle of her descent into motherhood-induced madness.) You can find her on both Twitter and Instagram as @FightingFrumpy.
It’s there. Lurking. Breathing down your neck. Every time you feed your kid a meal where ketchup is the closest thing to a vegetable. Every time you turn the channel to a mindless cartoon in hopes of getting just ten minutes of peace. Every time you pull a pair of your kid’s jeans out of the dirty laundry and scrape off that crusty patch (what IS that, anyway?) so they’re wearable. It’s there.
It’s Mom Guilt. And it’s real. And it sucks. And it will eat you alive if you allow it.
We mothers have so many modern conveniences – I mean, turn-of-the-century moms would have probably scoffed at the thought of machines that are able to wash their dishes and do their laundry. But despite having to do less manual labor, I think modern moms have it harder in other aspects. Because while moms of the olden days may have endured a few unsolicited comments from mothers-in-law and spinster aunts about their parenting, 21st-century mothers have the entire Internet to tell us we’re doing it all wrong. At our fingertips, we have scientific studies that prove – prove! – how much damage we’re doing with TV and smartphones and sugar and artificial colors and gender stereotypes and plastics and non-organic food. Put sunscreen on your kids because if you don’t you’re a negligent parent – but buy sunscreen without those harmful parabens because if you don’t you’re a negligent parent. Discipline your kids firmly because disrespectful kids are what’s wrong with society today – but don’t spank them because that’s just cruel. Oh, and don’t yell or put them in time-out either. Don’t give them juice boxes because they can be moldy inside – give it to them in a plastic cup but make sure it’s BPA-free. But actually, don’t give them juice because it has too much sugar and sugar is the devil.
… Say the experts.
See what I mean? All these studies and articles written by doctors and parenting gurus are floating around with captivating headlines like, “Ten Secrets to Perfectly-Behaved Children” and you can’t resist clicking on it because, well, your patience for grocery-store meltdowns is wearing a little thin. But it turns out that those ten secrets directly contradict the “expert” whose article you read last week. And then your brain is spinning and you feel like the worst mom ever and you start mindlessly shoveling chocolate into your face and wondering if 10:30 in the morning is too early to drink.*
*Or that might just be me.
Don’t even get me started on Facebook and Pinterest, where all we see are other moms’ best selves. Their best ideas. Their brightest accomplishments. It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap in a land where everyone appears better – more conscientious, more creative, more patient, more fashionable – than you. They might throw elaborate themed birthday parties or send their kids to school with organic, non-GMO lunches artfully arranged into pictures, but I guarantee you they have closed their kid’s fingers in the door or lost their temper or sobbed about their inadequacies into a carton of ice cream. Because just like your motherhood isn’t like the ones you see on Pinterest, neither is theirs. Real motherhood is messy and imperfect – I don’t care who you are or how many parenting “rules” you follow. For generations, mothers have managed to raise thinkers and do-ers, movers and shakers, and inspirational people … despite all the mistakes they think they’re making.
You’re doing okay. I’m doing okay. Let’s pretend we’re back in the olden days when Mom Guilt wasn’t a “thing.”
… Except I’m totally keeping my dishwasher.