Mom guilt is very real.

Mom guilt … it is real and it is present more now than ever …

At least for me. Just last night, my 9 year old shared with me what I can only assume to be the index of an instruction manual for Robo-Mom 3000; no doubt a collective class initiative based on countless hours of compiled student experiences learning at home under the watchful, harping, always loving, and almost always overbearing eyes of their parents. The first set of build instructions read something like this:

I want a mom …. who doesn’t work all the time. who doesn’t yell and tell me what to do.  who does laundry because what I want to wear tomorrow is dirty. who doesn’t care if I take her nail polish and use it. and then remove it. immediately. and then leave everything all over the counter. while I choose a different color. (*Okay, that one I am graciously adding on her behalf, because after all, this is what the evidence would suggest.)"

On one hand I commend my daughter for clearly expressing her desires in a clear, direct, concise manner while the other hand sucker punched me in the gut. Let’s be honest, what I heard her say was “you aren’t a good mom.” Failure, disappointment, not meeting expectation and those alike have never found a settled home in my heart; yet hearing my 9 year old express she needed more from me felt like a whole community of negativity setup tents for a permanent campout in my gut. The truth of the matter – sometimes I feel I just don’t have anything left to give.

Let’s look at facts:

  • Nearly 3 million women have dropped out of the labor force in the past year
  • 1 in 3 women are considering downshifting their career or leaving the workforce
  • Women, mothers in particular, are 3 times more likely than fathers to be responsible for most of the housework, caregiving, and schooling
  • Women are 1.5 times more likely to be spending an additional 3 or more hours per day on housework and childcare

Following a good cry in the closet and a twenty minute meditation I realized I do have more to give.

But in the midst of the “there isn’t more to give” moments, I ask us all to pause and recognize that this statement is nothing more than a reaction to the unrealistic expectation we put upon ourselves. Yes, society does its job too. BUT we don’t have to listen. We don’t have to listen to campers in our gut or the narrative in our thoughts. Not every thought we have is real. Doing more and giving up more of who we are in the name of other’s fulfillment can’t be it. Leaning in to who we are - being more of our authentic selves has to be the winning card. If nothing else, I think it’s safe to say that technology won’t be able to afford that bucket of bolts Robo-Mom 3000 the opportunity to ever outpace me in at least two things:

  1. My capacity to be a loving mom
  2. My ability to blaze through mountains of leftover Seesaw activities (I’m looking at you, fun ones, you know who you are)

After all, we are human beings and not human doers.