Last month, I started the discussion on mother’s guilt or the things we do as mothers that give us guilty feelings. Here are another six things that cause mother’s guilt for me. Again, as moms, we all have our shortcomings and not all moms feel guilty about the same things. These are what I experience personally and how I have learned to deal with them when they come up.
1. Getting mad at the kids – I don’t really yell at my children but I do get mad. May term mga mommies for that. Nagiging monster kami. (Mommies have a term for that. We become a monster.) It usually happens when we’re really tired or we’re really busy. Like when I’m in the middle of something, sometimes Kyle comes up to me and says, “Mommy? Mommy, mommy, mommy. Mommy,” until I pay attention. After I mind him, he’ll call me again, “Mommy?” Basically he’ll do the same thing again and again. Or sometimes they’ll be running, yelling, screaming and you just want them to stop but they’re not listening. They’re just so hyper and we become impatient. No matter how hard we try to keep it together, we sometimes just lose it. I feel super guilty whenever bumigay na ako (I finally cave in) and I just yell, “Kyle!!!” I just lose it. Sometimes, to make me feel better, I talk to him after I lose my temper. I tell him, “You know Kyle, I never want to get mad at you. But sometimes you don’t give me a choice. So can you please listen to me so I don’t need to get mad?” I really don’t like the feeling of always getting mad. Being a mom, the first instinct is to make your children feel loved. But when those instances happen, talagang wala eh (there’s really nothing you can do). You’re mad and you know you’re hurting them in a way. But they’re kids, talagang makulit sila. What I do is I just remind him of what happens if he doesn’t listen. For example, during breakfast, I have a rule that Kyle can’t keep moving around. He can only eat at the breakfast table. He’s not allowed to be fed anywhere else, kelangan nakaupo sya sa dining table. He’s fond of getting up and standing at the opposite side of the table, away from his seat. I have to tell him to go back. When he doesn’t listen and I’m starting to lose my patience, I say, “Kyle, you don’t want me getting mad at you again, right? So while I’m not mad, I really want you to listen and follow me. You’re not going to be happy again when I get mad.” That’s when I get his attention and he starts to listen. So warning nalang before I lose it
2. Co-sleeping – Lately there’s a lot of workshops for first-time moms on how to teach their kids to sleep in their cribs on their own. The thing is, when I breastfeed, I really enjoy sleeping with Kurt. As much as I want him to be independent, I also want to enjoy the moment when I’m sleeping with him. Sometimes I feel guilty when I see other moms and their kids are capable of being on their own at a young age. Then there’s me, I still let my kids sleep with me or his yaya. For Kyle, it’s different. For the whole four years, he’s been sleeping on his own in his room. He started co-sleeping with us because Kurt came he wanted to feel secure. So to reassure him, we let Kyle join us in our room. Thinking about him leaving eventually makes me and Paul actually feel sad. I think eventually there will come a time when he’ll be the one to tell us that he wants to sleep on his own. We’ll get there. For now, if I feel guilty about it, I just remember that I want to enjoy my time with them as much as I can. Once they’re grown up, I can’t turn back the clock and make it happen.
3. Not cooking the meals – This is really one of my frustrations and it’s something I feel guilty about. I cannot cook. It’s really hard for me and sometimes I think it matters to Kyle. Since I really can’t cook, I just make sure that I closely monitor and manage what’s being done in the kitchen. The heck that ingredients we use are healthy and organic. Though I can’t cook, I try really hard to do my research and find out what’s good for the kids, especially for Kurt. I’m kinda lucky because the kids’ yaya (nanny) is also proactive and sometimes I would just ask what she is making for the day. This is something I really can’t do anything about because I really don’t know how to cook. I just have to accept it.
4. Dreaming about Me-Time or traveling without the kids – Sometimes just thinking about it makes me feel guilty already. Catch myself thinking, “OMG, I’m planning something without them.” I suddenly feel like a horrible mom. But thinking about trips with friends also makes me feel excited. I’m trying to balance it now by making sure I go exercise – I consider that as my ‘me-time’, as a way of practicing self-love. For you to be able to take care of your family well, you have to take care of yourself well. That’s how I dispel the guilt and make me feel better. Going out with friends is something that also makes me feel bad but it’s also refreshing. It opens a new world for me and it makes me happy, even for just a few hours. One thing I realized now that I’m more hands-on with Kurt is that it’s not easy being a mom. That’s why it’s so easy to snap – you’re constantly in-between the two kids and you have to deal with a lot of things every day. That’s why it’s important to take a break. When you’re out, don’t feel bad because you really need to refresh and reboot yourself. You get back home in a healthier state of mind.
Just recently, my friends were asking me about a trip and the first thing that came to my mind was the kids. The thought of having a vacation without them is nakaka-guilty (makes me feel guilty). But I also thought to myself, “Oh, I really need that.” So I talked to Paul about it. Deep inside of me, I wanted to have that break, but at the same time, I’m already worrying about the kids. I haven’t really decided on the trip yet, but Paul is a really supportive husband. He just told me, “You should go. You can relax. Just go.”
5. Not playing enough with the kids – I love playing with kids but my way of playing is different. I wanted to play with Kyle through drawing, arts, or crafts but he’s just not interested though lately, he’s showing some signs. Kyle likes watching airplanes fly, playing with cars, which is not my thing. I tried but, to me, it’s boring. Whenever I touch a toy plane or toy car, I just think, “Ugh. The time I’m spending here could be spent on work.” I personally feel like I’m wasting my time and that makes me feel so guilty. There’s this voice in my head that says I’m not trying my best to meet Kyle where he is and do what he wants. How I dealt with that is I told my husband Paul, “Can you be the one to play with Kyle?” I’ll tell our son that these kinds of games are for boys, for him and daddy. I really don’t know how to play these games. Now, Kyle already knows not to ask me to play these toys with him. Opening the boxes palang and he sees that we need to build something, Kyle would tell me, “Mommy, you don’t know how to do this?” And he’s right, it’s really not my thing. I think Kyle gets it now. He knows I want to play with him but we’ll play differently. I’ll maybe play with a tickle, magharutan lang kami sa bed (we just tease each other on the bed) or I’ll make funny sounds.
Just to add, research is saying that when it comes to spending time with kids, quality trumps quantity. It doesn’t mean that the amount of time you spend with them is more important than the kind of time you spend. Yan nalang hinahabol ko (That’s what I aim for), quality time instead of quantity. Also, if you allow them to play on their own and explore on their own, it’s also good for their development. So don’t feel bad when you sometimes see them playing on their own.
6. Not being able to go to school events – If Kyle is involved in the event, I really make sure that I go. Last year, Kyle’s school had a charity event where they sell crafts done by the kids. Kakapanganak ko lang noon (I’ve just given birth then) but I made sure that I went so that Kyle will see me there, supporting him. I also wanted to see firsthand the crafts he created. In all of his events, I make sure I’m able to go. So far, hindi pa naman ako pumapalya (I haven’t failed yet). The school meetings are another thing – sometimes I really can’t make it. Kyle might ask, “Mama, will you go there?” and I would say, “No, I cannot make it.” Sometimes that makes me feel guilty and I’ll have to explain to him why I can’t go. I realize that I really can’t do everything. So for the other moms out there, I want to tell you that there’s no need to feel guilty. As long as you know what’s going on in your child’s life and you are able to make it to the important events, you’re okay. You just have to accept that your time is limited and you need to choose which activities are important to attend.
There are a lot of factors that feed guilt. Sometimes we compare ourselves to other moms. We consider them better at parenting than we are. What we need to realize is that at some point, these moms also feel the same way and they have to deal with their own guilt. They may be better than you are at one thing but you might be better at another thing. It’s really about how we handle the pressure we put on ourselves or we feel is being placed by other people like family or friends. Here are ways I think we can manage the guilt –
- Stop comparing. We all have different situations and we are not created the same. Remembering this will make it easier to accept whatever flaws you have and help you manage the guilt.
- Don’t judge yourself immediately. Always remind yourself to be kind to yourself. When you make mistakes, don’t think that you’re less of a person. Don’t blame yourself too much.
- Accept the fact that you’re not perfect, like other moms. We’re all the same. Even if you don’t think about other people, you need to remember that nobody is perfect.
- Focus on what makes your kid happy. If you fail in one point, just focus on how you can make bawi nalang (make it up instead). You know you love them, they will feel it and they will still love you back despite your lapses.
- Move on. We cannot undo the things we did. Just think of the guilt as a way to do check-and-balance in motherhood. When you feel guilty, just remind yourself that it’s time for you to review what’s happening. This way, you can correct something or recreate the good things you’ve done.
- Change your thoughts. Be positive as much as possible. Try not to judge yourself. Focus on what you are contributing to your family instead of what you are failing to do. Instead of dwelling on what you didn’t do, try to think of why you decided to do things a certain way. For example, I sometimes feel bad about having to bring the yaya when we travel. I get lots of comments about it and I would feel guilty. It makes me wonder if Paul and I are bad parents because other families can manage without the yaya. Instead, I just embrace the hard truth that we just cannot manage without the yaya. I’d tell myself, I’d rather pay to be comfortable than get really stressed and ruin the vacation. I see moms walking with three or four kids on her own and I would think, “Wow! I can’t do that.” She may seem more hands-on with the kids but I also realize that I’m not as stressed as she is. She may look like she’s doing great but I’m sure she’s tired. That’s one way I look at the positive in my choices. You can choose to divert your attention and reframe the circumstances to a more positive light.
Motherhood is really the hardest job I’ve ever experienced, yet it is also the most fulfilling and rewarding experience of my life. I know I’ve made mistakes and I know I will continue to make them because I’m not perfect. The thing is we just need to make sure that we’re giving it our best. Showing our kids that we love them and care for them is the most important thing.
I hope this article helps you manage your guilt and gives you a new perspective on the issues moms experience.