Oh mom guilt. I would guess the overwhelming majority of moms have felt it to some extent or another.
And a lot of things get easier with the second baby. I’m more relaxed in general. She doesn’t seem quite as fragile. Going out in public doesn’t feel so anxiety inducing because I have some general idea of how to survive most possible outcomes.
But the mom guilt? Yeah that didn’t go away. Didn’t lessen. Nope. It increased exponentially.
(Full disclosure: this isn’t an advice post. There isn’t some grand lesson that I can think of. Instead think of it as a “grab your cold coffee and let’s chat about how we feel because I bet you struggle with some of these things too” kind of post.)
So why do I feel so guilty as a mom? A list of things that don’t make me feel guilty would probably be shorter, but here goes. Let me know if you can relate!
My first child isn’t an only child anymore
My first born was used to a certain rhythm of life. When he asked for my attention he usually got it. If he needed (or wanted) help, he got it pretty much immediately. Now my attention is constantly divided. And I can feel so guilty that I have changed the dynamics of our relationship. Now I’m asking him to be a big boy and to wait. And part of me wishes I could just let him stay my baby forever. But that’s just not how life works.
My second born will never experience life as the “only”
This sucks too. I had almost two and a half years with just my first, and we did a lot together! Sure I was still learning how to be a mom, but we had so many experiences that were just the two of us. He had almost two and a half years of my undivided attention. My second will never get that. And I feel awful about it. From the day she was born, I’ve had to share my energy and attention between her and my son. I can’t always just sit and hold her while she sleeps because I have another child to parent as well. No matter how much I try in the future to give them one on one time and attention, she will never experience being an “only.”
My patience is worn thin
I’m not really a patient person at the best of times But now with two little people always needing something from me, my patience is at a low point. I love my kids more than anything, but I am constantly needed for something. Someday I’ll miss them needing me so much, but right now it’s just overwhelming and then I feel guilty for not being as patient as I wish I was.
What if I’m picking a favorite?
This is one I especially struggle with. My second is a girl. And girl clothes and “stuff” is just way more fun. So I feel like I’m always buying cute baby girl things and not as much for my son. (Not that he notices. Or wants for anything. This is literally just the ugly voice in my head beating me up for nothing!) Add to that the fact that she is just plain an easier baby than he ever was. I will come right out and say it. She sleeps better, fusses less, and is just generally easier all around. Plus there’s just that cute “newness” that all babies have. My son has outgrow that stage and is in the “terrible” twos. So it can be easy to feel like I would maybe rather do things with the “easy” kid. Which then I of course feel guilty about because I am just sure he will recognize that feeling and it will somehow ruin his life. Yes that’s overly dramatic…I didn’t say any of this mom guilt was rational did I?
Things I do (or don’t do) for each child
I’ve been in two very different places in life when I had each baby. With my first, I went back to work full time when he was about six weeks old. My husband worked night and I worked days so we could avoid the cost of daycare. Now I’m a stay at home mom and my husband is deployed(ish.)
With my first, I didn’t always have the time and energy to take monthly pictures, record milestones, or a lot of the “fun” stuff. And I wished I had so now I’m making it a priority for my second. Which just makes me feel guilty that she’ll have more pictures to look at when she’s grown.
Of course, on the flip side, I carry her places in her car seat more than I did with my first because it’s just plain easier. She doesn’t get as much tummy time or time on her play mat in general because that means keeping her safe and happy while also keeping the toddler away. So then of course I imagine all the potential negative consequences and make myself feel guilty again.
So all that to say that the mom guilt is real over here. Now and probably always…because the older I get the more I realize there are just some things we don’t really outgrow. And nearing myself up over things is apparently one such thing.
But as I get older I’m also realizing more and more that I’m not alone in this. So that’s why I’m sharing. It doesn’t make the mom guilt go away. It doesn’t keep me from having good days and bad days. But it does create a community. And not feeling alone is pretty great.
So if you struggle with mom guilt, no matter how many kids you have, I’d love to hear from you in the comments! What is your biggest struggle?