Do you have mom guilt?
If you’re a mom, the answer is yes.
If you have had a mom, the answer is also most likely, yes.
Why does being a mother or our relationship with our own, have the power to produce guilt? Most of us want to be good in all of the roles in our lives and often times, our inability to recognize and express our limits (as in creating healthy boundaries) leads to feeling guilty. And since we all know excessive guilt can really suck the joy out of your life, I’ve created a guided Guilt-Free Boundary meditation just for you (you can download it at the bottom of the blog) to support your ability to draw boundaries with ease, grace, and love.
I hope this daily reminder of the power of healthy boundaries will reduce mom (or any other kind of) guilt you may be experiencing.
In our society, we idealize the image of the all-giving mother. There is an expectation that total self-sacrifice goes hand in hand with being a good mother. This good mother myth has been driving public opinion about women for decades. The debate between the virtues of working or staying at home moms still rages and now the mompreneur has emerged as a viable option and with each one of these scenarios, guilt of some kind remains a constant.
The pressure to do it all right all the time can be staggering. Making an honest mistake like forgetting the sunscreen on a sunny day at the park or not having the extra diaper in the bag can create fear of judgment from other moms and feelings of guilt and failure. In our society today, the message is, you have to be & do everything. Be a hands-on mom while holding down a full or part-time job or contributing financially in some way. If you’re married, you’re also expected to be a good partner. You might also feel pressured to accept every invite to birthday parties, volunteer at the school bake sale, plus never lose your temper despite being sleep deprived and overwhelmed! The list goes on and on. This can be a very explosive combination especially if you have the disease to please or if you suffer from codependency. Being a mom really taps into that already over-developed desire or need to give of yourself and ultimately to put your own needs, wants, and desires last.
So where are the boundaries in this picture? Feeling like you must do all of these things is an indication of weak or disordered boundaries and it’s so common we don’t even perceive it as a boundary issue. It becomes a question of balance. How can you be a good parent, a good mother, and take good care of yourself? At the end of the day if you don’t, inevitably you become resentful…which creates more guilt and the cycle continues.
If any or all of this resonates with you, don’t worry because you’re in very good company! Let’s move into a few ideas you can put into place to stop setting yourself up to feel chronically guilty. This will create more joy for you to share with your nearest and dearest tribe.
Stop the compare and despair circle of feeling less than, right now. All of the perfect looking parenting scenarios on IG are curated. Don’t compare your daily life to someone else’s highlight reel.
Bust Boundary Myths
Identifying the unconscious and conscious limiting beliefs you might be harboring about what drawing boundaries or setting limits means is an important part of this process. Do you secretly think you have to be mean in order to set boundaries? Or that doing so with your family, including children, makes you a less than perfect mom? Remember, you can set boundaries with kindness, compassion, and with love. And you will be so much happier when you’re less stressed which means your family will be happier too!
When you know you need to say no to something or set a limit, having a go-to phrase can be a powerful reminder of what is true. Something like,“Boundaries are healthy. I have the right to say no. Boundaries protect the relationships I hold dearest.”
The people you love the most tend to be the ones you want to disappoint the least, which can make creating solid boundaries challenging. Repeating the mantra above (or make up your own) will help uncover any of the boundary ‘myths’ that come to mind (If I draw boundaries, people will think I’m mean etc.)
Honor Your Limits
It is your job to know, express, and honor your limits. When you over give and over function for too long, you aren’t good for anyone. Resentment is inevitable and those feelings don’t just disappear even if you deny them. Our bodies have a way of manifesting those feelings as anything from back pain to autoimmune disorders if we don’t stop stuffing them. The health of your relationships and your “God Pod” (as my pal Kris Carr would say) is at stake.
Good Enough Mother
The phrase “the good enough mother” was coined by the British pediatrician and psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott in his famous book Playing and Reality. His theory was that the mothers who are ‘good enough,’ not ‘perfect’ are the ones whose children thrive the most. This means going from total adaptation to the child’s cues and needs to teaching the child to self-soothe by allowing them to feel an appropriate amount of frustration. Staying too long in the period of total adaptation can negatively impact the child’s cognitive ability to adapt to the real world. If you love your children and do your best, it is more than good enough.
In conclusion, when you’re not drawing boundaries, you’re denying the people in your life the opportunity to deeply know you and how can anyone authentically love you if you don’t allow them to authentically know you? You’re not just robbing yourself of that experience. You’re robbing the people you love the most as well.
If you would like to see my video on this where I go into more detail you can do so HERE. where you can also download your free guided meditation.
So, I hope that you liked this episode and found it helpful. If you did, please share it on your social media platforms and please join us on my business page, Terri Cole, LCSW or join my gals-only Real Love Revolution FB group. I look forward to seeing you there so have an amazing week and as always, take care of you.
Terri Cole is a licensed psychotherapist, transformation coach, and an expert at turning fear into freedom. Sign up for Terri’s weekly Newsletter, check out her blog and follow her on Twitter.