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Coping With “Mom Guilt”

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Mom Guilt. I don’t remember reading about it in my pregnancy books. It wasn’t anything that I was prepared for. Still, millions of mothers experience it every single day. It is the overwhelming pressure to be an attentive, nurturing, teaching, happy mom as you manage all your other responsibilities of the day.
When my first son was four months old, I returned to my job and working outside of the home. I spent the majority of my day earning money and not being with my baby and I felt guilty. I stopped breastfeeding and I felt guilty. My baby spent the same amount of time sleeping in those tiny beds at daycare as he did in his own bed at home and I felt guilty. When you are a working mom, every smile, word or first step that you don’t see is something that you will always miss. I made up my mind that I would sacrifice whatever it would take in order to stay home with my son.

What I didn’t know was that the guilt didn’t go away as a stay-at-home mom, it simply changed. As our family grew, I felt guilty that I wasn’t spending equal amounts of time with each child. There just wasn’t enough of me to go around for building Legos, reading a book and playing a game all at the same time. Not to mention how I felt if I wanted to take them to the gym so I could work out. They would beg me to just be able to stay home and play instead of going to the gym or running an errand. Talk about a motivation killer. I felt guilty that I couldn’t keep up with the house, the kids and the errands during the week. I felt guilty that I wanted to hire someone else to watch my kids just so I could have a couple of hours to myself. And I felt guilty that sometimes I wanted to go back to work. What kind of a mom was I if I wanted a break from my children?
Normal, I think. For me, it continues to be a never ending circle. Like many women, I put pressure on myself to keep the house clean, stay caught up on laundry, make healthy family meals and spend as much time with my children as possible. It’s multitasking in survival mode. And sometimes, I just need a break.

Add a Comment16 Comments

I am happy to hear back from you, and look forward to talking with you whenever you can get to the computer.

I assume your husband was like this, even before you had your child... is that a correct assumption? I just wanted to make sure that his behavior and personality did not radically change once your child was born.

Did he want to have a child, with you? Was he ready to become a parent, and share in responsibility? He does sound very tied to his parents still, but you have a lot of power in how he treats you, and what you will put up with.

I'm not sure what "I love him" means, as the definition of a healthy, loving relationship does not include calling names, "ditching" you for a dinner date....these are very harmful behaviors, and if you are choosing to stay with him, you do have many options to protect you and your child. (You do not want your child to learn that a relationship is about one person dominating and the other person being submissive).

I would love to hear you comment on my other "suggestions", as I am curious if he has your best intentions at heart, and if he can be reasoned with. If not, I would urge you to call a local women's shelter just to talk with them on the phone about your options. They are wonderful, very helpful and do not put pressure on you to leave. They help you plan, in case you do need to leave, and offer financial support, shelter, information and other services.

You can only excuse your husband for being an only child for so long. Is he interested in discussing adult things with you, like budgets and finances? Even talking with a financial counselor (this is a healthy choice for most couples to do!) to discuss saving for future, spending and choices on how to spend fairly would be invaluable.

I hope to hear from you again, soon!

November 16, 2010 - 10:04pm
(reply to Alison Beaver)

i am going to tell you everything that has happened in our relationship. We were trying to have a baby a year after we were together and we got pregnant but miscarried. After that we didnt even try but we did not use protection. things were not really all that great before Therin was born. He was still controlling. No,He does not like to discuss important adult things with me. When i try to talk to him about adlut stuff it leads to a fight.
We were together a year and a half and everything was great until we began fighting alot because he of his controlling issues and i left him many times because of that. I knew when he began acting like this i should leave him and i did.

I left him many times and he would always contact me somehow and talk me into getting back with him. I would agree to get back together and things were great. He bought me flowers one time! but a few days later we were back to arguing again.

well' we got into the biggest fight in october of 2008 wich caused me to leave again... i was gone for four days. I moved in with my friend jess whome i went to school with. The fourth day i was leaving work and he showed up asking me to move back in. I agreed to move back in with him even though i was so furious and affraid to go back but if i didnt i would not have anything.

I was affraid of losing everything! i would lose my job because I dont have a licence & my friend jess could not drive me to work everyday. So i moved back in and things got even worse because a week later i found out i was pregnant. My partner was upset and accused me of cheating during the four days that i was gone. He told me that he did not believe that it was his baby. That is when he stopped hugging me, kissing (anything affectionate).....

I was so heart broken... I cried and cried. I begged him to believe me but, he wouldnt. He just looked down at me with this disgusted look. I knew then things would just be so miserable and so I decided to spend a little more time away from him such as going to my friends house every now and then when things were to much for me to handle.

My friend amanda from work lived right down the road from our house and she had asked me to come over to her house for movie night. I invited my partner to come with me but he refused because he did not want to meet new people. I told him that i was still gonna go and he got upset & told me not to go. I didnt want to care because he was being controlling. so i went.

I watched the movie then i decided to call my partner just to let him know that i was about to come home and he said for me to just stay the night. I asked him why and he said that he just wanted to be by himself and so i said ok. I stayed at amandas. the next moring (the day before easter) i called him and told him that amanda was going to drive me to work.I asked him if he was going to pick me up when i got off work and he said " I dont think this is going to work." I replied " what do you mean?" and he says " I dont think that it is my baby!" It was like a giant slap to the face... I then replied "Im gonna prove you wrong!" and i hung up.

After i got off work that day i went home and the minute i walked the door he says " your things are packed upstairs!" without even looking at me. so I went upstairs and grabbed all my stuff and loaded it into amandas car. i did not talk to him after that.

About two weeks later my friend amanda and her husband told me that thier landlord said that they could not have any imediate family move in so i had to be out of her house in a week. so i had to move out. I had to quit my job and move into my moms house. at the time my mother was living at my grandmas because she takes care of her. So i had my mothers house to myself.

I went through hell being pregnant without any help. My mother was always working or taking care of my grandmother so i didnt get any help from her. I recieved $900 in tax returns. I was so thankfull for that because i was able to buy the babies nesseties. I got on foodstamps and medicade. i also went to food banks.

my due date was June 21,2010. I didnt gointo labor though, so my doctor scheduled me to be induced on June 24,2010. I decided to call him and let him know that i was going to be induced on thursday at 6:00 a.m. and if he wanted to see his son be born then to be at the hospital. He began talking to me on the phone and we were laughing. Things seemed great after i talked to him.

June 23rd at 10pm I went into labor naturally. I called him and him & his mom met at the hospital. he held my hand throughout delivery. Therin was born at 7:35 a.m. on June 24th. The next day he bought my a big vase of flowers. He stayed at the hospital with me for 3 days. On the 3rd day he asked me what i thought about moving back in. I replied " my intensions are to stay living at my moms house but i really dont want that." He looked at me and said "me either." I told him that if we were gonna be together then things have to change. he agreed and so me and the baby moved in.

Things were great for about a week. Now things are back to the way they were before. We dont fight like we used to but it is just because we have a baby now. We argue but we dont yell. but i just hate the fact that: after him knowing that it is his son, he still acts this way twards me.

I dont really know what to do. I am not leaving him because i love him and he is the father of my son. i know he can make an effort. he just refuses to do so and i dont know why.
Im sorry if this was alot to read. I just wanted to tell you all of the details of why things are the way they are. I just hope there is a way to fix it.

November 18, 2010 - 3:35pm
(reply to I_love_him)

I am glad that you found us to write to. It sounds like you might not have anyone else to turn to to express your feelings. I hate to say it but your story makes me sad. I can't imagine experiencing the privilege of pregnancy and parenting without a loving partner by your side. I know that you believe that you love this person and you have made it clear that you will not leave him. You should remember that you cannot make people change. You only have control over your own actions and your reactions to others. I think you deserve a better situation for yourself and your child. I just don't know if you believe that yet.

November 18, 2010 - 8:11pm
(reply to Susan Schade)

I've known that he wont change being selfish and all but, I just have accepted that i am going to have to just deal with it. But i am just trying my hardest to figure out what i can do to better things for our relationship to make things a little easier. I love him. When me and him first got together it was like this crazy attraction. We were just drawn to each other. I just miss that so much and i wish that we could just go back to that. Maybe someday things will change as we grow older and just learn from what we do. but for now if things are going to be like this I just want to find methods that work best for when things are getting out of hand. I am going to admit that i am rebelious sometime to his comments. I have learned that i have to just hold my breath and just ignore it. Is that bad? I just want to try to make this situation work for me at least a little bit because i am not planning on leaving. i love him and i just want him to realize how much he means to me. I just so badly want to salvage our relationship. I just want to do all i can to help the situation.

November 21, 2010 - 7:16am
(reply to I_love_him)

i have noticed a little improvement from him. but i have learned not to get my hopes up, because it usually doesnt last long. for the first time he admitted that he blames me more than he blames himself. so that was nice to know that he relizes that. Sometimes he can be the biggest jerk though. I wish that he would think about what he says before he says it. He hurts my feelings alot because of the dirty looks and the rude comments. I feel like he treats me as if im a little kid or as if i am dumb. I dont feel like he respects me. I have a low self of steam due to this treatment. I know i am a good woman, a good mother and a wonderful partner, but in his eyes I am not up to par on anything. He make me feel unattractive, annoying and as if nothing i do is right.
I know that is not good. Everyone keeps telling me leave but i am so tired of hearing that. I know i have an option of leaving but that is not what i want. To be honest i would not have anything without him. such as: a home, transportation, clothes, baby stuff. I dont have the choice of leaving, and i know what most people have already told me.... there are people who can help you. These are my reasons for not leaving.
. I love him and i want this to workout.
. Metropolitan housing is not accepting aplications and wont for a year.
. Hopehouse wont accept me unless i have a job.
. I dont have a job
. I dont have a licence
. I dont have a car
. I dont want to have to go to court
. I dont want my son to have to deal with the separation of his parents because i went through it and it was heartbreaking. My situation is just so complicated when i only have one person to turn to. I have no indipendence.
I just really hope things will turn around. I find myself wondering ,why me? but like my mom always said "you made your bed now lay in it."

November 22, 2010 - 6:41am
(reply to I_love_him)

Hi i_love_him,
Thanks for continuing to talk with us. I hope it is helping you in some way. We are here to inspire you and support you as you try to figure this out. I am sensing you are feeling stuck--but you don't have any intention of leaving--that is a decision you've made. And while your mother has a point, what's done is done, you have a baby, and you're with this man, your story is not finished.
You do have a life, and you do have choices. I always think to myself, "It's ok to feel sorry for myself today, but tomorrow, I'm going to take care of this problem."
As I see it, and mind you, I'm not a therapist, and I'm not a doctor, so take it or leave it as you see fit: 1) you can decide to make the most of your situation--instead of negativity, try to cultivate a more positive atmosphere. Be the best partner you can be, and don't stop--don't weigh this on how he is. Be loving to him, try to not judge, and you more than likely will get love back. If he is hurtful, say, "I'm sorry you feel that way, but that hurt me." and leave it at that. Don't let him rope you into fights, choose your battles. Focus on your son, and being the best mama you can be. 2) Work toward having the future you want--do you want a job? What do you want to do? Take an hour a day to search out resources for daycare and a job. Just look into it. Or search out places you can go to school so you can improve your chances of getting a job. If you are in school, many places may offer support or counsel you on how to get daycare and/or a job.
My point is, take this step-by-step. This will improve your self-image and also the image your partner has of you. Only good things can come from working hard at becoming the person you want to be and not accepting that your current status is where you have to be. I know it won't be easy, and if you need help, let us know what part of the country you are in, and we can try to help you find resources in your area. Think about it, think about what you want (even if it's just staying home with your son until he's school age), and let us know. What do you think about that?

November 22, 2010 - 8:59am
(reply to Christine Jeffries)

I am so thankful to have people to talk to about this because it helps me understand myself a little better. i learn alot of helpful things from talking to everyone. I dont get out of the house very much and i am always at home alone with the baby. Wow! you know what, that is the best advice anybody has ever given me. Thank you. Most people just tell me to leave him. I agree completly! My story is not finished. I dont want to give up. I will try what ever i can to make this work. I have picture perfect dreams for my future such as a stable and loving family. I gave up on alot of things in my life such as school, but i am not going to give up on my life long dream with my son and the love of my life. I never knew how strong of a person i was until i got pregnant. i felt like everything in my mind was turned around. I changed alot of things in a positive way. i feel like a different person now.

I do agree with the part where you said "try not to judge". Because i do judge him alot when he makes decisions. because I get upset that he is spending money on exspensive car parts. Last night i looked on his ebay account and seen that he had just won an auction for a $200-$300 car part. I asked him why he did not tell me about it and he replied "am i supposed to tell you what i am doing with my money?" I rolled my eyes and said "yes" and he just laughed at me. he is constantly asking me what he should buy for his car next and i could really care less because to be honest i think it is a big waste of money but his car is like his toy so i dont really argue about the subject too much i just hate it when he buys car parts and then we have no groceries.

Number 1 seems to be the road im gonna go. I want to make the best of my situation. and 2 sounds good too. I was planning on getting a job once he starts school. I am also taking my driving test in march so I think that would help my independence a little bit. I want to have my own money to spend. I cant wait till the day i can take my little man shopping. My son means everything to me & I want him to have the best of life. I love that i get to spend everyday with him. I love it when it is just me n' my babyboy, we just play & laugh at each other. I love being a mom. my son is the best thing that ever happend to me.

For the past week i have not slept with him in bed. we just got the babies room set up a few days ago so now the baby doesnt sleep in our room anymore. I have been sleeping on the floor in the babies room or on the couch. I thought it would be good to let my partner sleep because he was constantly complaining about being tired because i had to constantly get out of bed to tend to the baby. Another thing is that when my partner is awake i am napping with the baby so we barely see each other now but, I thought this would be good to try out because i thought maybe he would miss me and want me around more. Is that a bad idea?
Well, for the past few nights he has asked me if i was comming to bed with him and i would tell him "No i think im gonna stay up, I still have to take a bath and wait till the baby falls asleep." and he would say "Ok go take a bath and i will wait for you". I kinda felt bad, but i told him to go ahead and go to bed. I just feel it is important for him to relize how he makes me feel. He makes me feel alone and unwanted sometimes. We have not had sex or any affection in a little over a year now. It is quite depressing because i feel as if we are like friends living together more than a couple and i have told him that.

I dont want things to be like this anymore. I want him to put his arms around me and tell me he loves me. but I always have to say i love you first. I miss him so much. he lets me hug him now, but anything else is off limits to him. I want him to give me a real kiss not a peck on the lips. I want him to hold me like he will never see me again. I want communication between the both of us. Rigt now it is like only he can talk and anything i have to say is just dumb and not worth listening to. The stuff i talk to him about is important. I spill my heart out to him and he just throws it back in my face by ignoring me, laughing and telling me im crazy.
I really do try everything to help him with what ever is bothering him. And if he thinks the problem is me then i am going to try be away from him for a while and see if that makes a difference in his behavor twards me.
I guess i am going to have to do what ever i can to be very patient with my partner and hang on for dear life. Hopefully somethings start getting smoother in our relationship.

November 23, 2010 - 6:51pm

Oh boy do I relate. My youngest just this morning looked deep into my eyes and said, "Mama, I don't want to put shoes on, I want to stay home with you--no school!" I wish I could do it all, and be happy about it too. It's so hard to not get frustrated with them when you know it's time to go, when you want them to eat, when you just can't deal with someone wanting a piece of you. You're so right it's a never-ending cycle. I chose this. I wanted a family. I know I'm blessed. Is it so terrible I wish everything was easier and didn't have to be such a struggle. When am I supposed to find time to do all the mothering duties, all the interior household duties, do my job, and keep thin and relatively good looking? I give up! OK now...back to it.
Thanks for your post. At the very least, it's comforting to know we're not alone in our lamenting.

September 10, 2010 - 11:14am
HERWriter Guide (reply to Christine Jeffries)

I don't suffer from a lot of Mom Guilt anymore.

Honestly, I was a stay at home Mom for nearly four years and rarely left my children's sides. We had no babysitters and no family so we were a locked down family unit for so long!

Now that they have begun school (I went back to work a few years ago - working from home) I think it's a good balance and I think I deserve a night out with my husband or girlfriends two or three times a month. It's a few hours, 3 nights out of 31! I feel no guilt at all - I can't wait for these nights!

I enjoy working and making some much needed income - I don't feel bad about it at all although it's really hard to combine everything.

There are days when I've been really swamped with a combo of career work and housework and full-time parenting. As I put my kids to bed I do think "wow, I was really only with you you for a few hours today, even though I was with you all day" - then I get swamped with the old Mom Guilt. We want to be EVERYTHING AND ALWAYS to and with our kids. And I get sucked into that vortex on occasion too.

Then again, as parents, our generation is far more involved with our kids than our parents were with us and theirs with them, etc. We have to focus on all the good we're doing and not self-criticize so much (even though we mothers are very hard on ourselves).

I can't wait for my 4 year old to start preschool on Monday! I have no guilt, it's only 15 hours a week and I'm as excited for me as for her! I'm bad!

But as different as woman are, I think motherhood can really show us how similar we all our in our emotions.

September 10, 2010 - 1:58pm
(reply to Susan Cody)

I am having such a difficult time right now. I wish i could do it all but I cant. I am so drained of energy because I mainly focus on my four month old son. I am a new mother and this is my first child. I looked forward to being a mother my whole life. Being a mom isnt the hard part though. The hard part of all of this is trying to get all the house chores done, make supper and when his father comes home from work, he expects me to have everything done. He tell me that i need to do more around the house and that i dont work as hard as he does. It hurts my feelings and i am getting to the point to where i dont even care to do anything for my parter anymore because he does not appriciate anything i do. I always make sure that he has clothes to wear to work, clean towls and clean dishes to eat off of. We have a nice house. It is a litte messy such as a small basket of laundery and a few dishes in the sink. He makes such a big deal out of all of it. I am so overwelmed. He works the late shift so we dont go to bed till like 7am and i have the baby on that same schedule. Well this morning the baby would not got to sleep for anything! he kept whinning till about 2 pm. I left my partner sleep while I stayed downstairs with the baby hoping he would fall asleep so that i could go to bed. well after hours of tending to the baby downstairs i eventually took him upstairs and put him in his crib as i layed down to go to sleep. The baby was still making alot of noise. My partner turned to me and says "why dont you do something to quiet him" I told him "i want to go to bed! i have not gotten any sleep!" he then asked "why?" and i told him "while you were sleeping i had to tend to a baby who did not want to go to bed." and of course i get called a bitch for not letting him sleep. I am so sick of being a great mother and a horrible house wife. what else am i supposed to do. i feel gulty about not having everything perfect for my partner but i know that i have to tend to my child. does anyone have any advice?

November 9, 2010 - 7:51pm
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