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Mom guilt can hit anyone. It can make you feel like a terrible mom in the blink of an eye.
Mom guilt is when something happens to cause you to judge and doubt yourself as a mom. Mom guilt is prevalent today, especially with special needs moms.
There isn’t a mom alive on earth who hasn’t experienced mom guilt in some way, shape, or form.
Mom guilt doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you have in the bank, your ethnic background, your education level, or anything. It can happen to any mom.
Before we take a deep dive into mom guilt, let’s go over the definition of guilt. If this definition doesn’t make you stop in your tracks, I don’t know what will. When you hear it you’re gonna wonder why they even have mom guilt.
Guilt, according to Google, is the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime, or to make (someone) feel guilty, especially in order to induce them to do something.
So mom guilt is basically when we a mom has committed a serious offense. Wow. When you put it like that, it makes it look really negative and makes you wonder why anyone would want to feel that way.
Mom guilt in special needs moms
I personally think mom guilt happens more to special needs moms. You have all of these things going through your head at any given time.
Add on top of it people’s stupid questions like “Did you know you had a folic acid deficiency before you got pregnant?, which makes you want to reply, “No Karen, I didn’t know, or else I would’ve taken it, but thanks for your input! “
MOm guilt can hit any mom of typical children, but when you have strangers all up in your business thinking they have a right to ask probing questions, it’s a recipe for mom guilt on steroids.
Why you feel mom guilt
Mom guilt can stem from a bunch of things, but I believe the biggest catalyst for mom guilt is comparison.
You see society is so judgemental these days. There is a judgment on everything especially when it comes to being a mother.
- Breastfed vs. bottle-fed
- Cry it out vs. soothe
- Co-sleeping vs. sleeping alone
- Store-bought baby food vs. homemade baby food
- No screen time vs limited screen time vs unlimited screen time
There are so many judgments and people wanting to go postal on someone for not thinking the same way they do. There isn’t any room for you to feel comfortable by being yourself.
Let me tell you something. No one has it all figured out. Even the mom of a 57-year-old child is still learning every day.
Believe me. There isn’t a manual for this and everyone has different beliefs, opinions, and religious preferences which make for a lot of different thoughts and opinions.
None of them are wrong by the way. You get to choose how you raise your children. No one else gets a say so in that.
The biggest reason you can feel mom guilt is when you see someone else and think “She’s a better mom than me.” or “I wish I had my act together like her.”.
You think you’re doing a great job for your kid’s birthday party and then you log onto Instagram. Sarah is making a homemade cake that looks just like your child’s favorite movie Frozen and it looks as good as Buddy’s from Cake Boss.
Cue the sound effects. Wonk wonk wonk. You immediately feel like crap. Sarah didn’t intend to make you feel like crap, it just happened.
You were feeling really good about buying the store-bought cupcakes that you added the hot pink sprinkles to in your child’s favorite color. You know she was going to love them until you see Sarah’s cake.
Then you immediately feel guilty. Maybe you should’ve gone to cake decorating school so you can create a cake like that. Or maybe you should spend a few hundred dollars to buy a cake like that since you can’t make one from scratch.
But nope, your kids stuck with the store-bought cupcakes with the hot pink sprinkles on top.
You feel less than and start to beat yourself up. Then you start spiraling and wondering if you can get anything right. Sarah’s over there with the Pinterest perfect party with the 100% homemade organic food and your child is stuck with the store-bought cupcakes.
You feel bad for your child and wonder if this is going to mess her up and she’s not going to grow up and make something out of herself because her mother didn’t care enough about her birthday party.
This sounds pretty dumb, but admit it, you’ve spiraled like this before haven’t you?
Common reasons you feel mom guilt
These are the most common reasons you feel mom guilt and question your parenting choices.
When you don’t have Pinterest perfect birthday parties
You can feel mom guilt when you see a Pinterest Perfect birthday party. You see the mom with the perfect decorations, the beautiful homemade cake, the adorable party favors, and all the perfect on-theme food.
When you scroll social media and compare
When you scroll social media and compare yourself to all the moms. That mom always feeds her children healthy food. That mom makes homemade baby food. Her kids always look like they’re photo-ready.
She always seems to have time to spend a lot of one on one time with her children. She always makes time for her devotion every day. She never yells at her kids. They can come in every shape and form.
When you have a bunch of jerks for friends
You have a bunch of jerks for friends that make you feel bad about yourself and your ability to be a good mom. It looks kinda like this……
- Are you really gonna feed your child that?
- You let your kids have that many snacks?
- You don’t let your son play baseball?
- You’re kids don’t know how to swim yet?
- Your kids are at daycare how long?
Your friends are a bunch of Judge Judys sitting around judging everyone like they have everything figured out. Let me tell you, Judy is upset about her own life and is trying to make you feel bad so you’re on the same level as her.
She’s just doing these outward things to make herself feel like she’s a good mom. Deep down, she’s going through the mom guilt too, it just shows up differently for her.
When someone raises their kids differently than you do
You can feel mom guilt when someone raises their kids differently than you. When someone only gives their kids organic food it must be because they love their kids more than you do your children.
Then you sit around and beat yourself up about that you really don’t love your kids because if you did you’d be feeding them organic food.
Because your child has special needs
You feel mom guilt off and on about your child’s diagnosis, especially when it’s a new diagnosis. You think it’s your fault your child has a disability.
Especially when ignorant people pipe up and say stupid stuff like “You didn’t know you needed to take extra folic acid?” or “You didn’t’ know you had a family history of XYZ?”
When your child has an IEP meeting or you have to complete a developmental questionnaire
You feel guilty every single time you have to fill out a questionnaire about your child’s development. It makes you feel like you’re not a good mom because your child is “behind”.
Then to make matters worse, you have to sit in a room of medical professionals who talk about your child and how they don’t measure up in stiff medical language that makes it seem like your child is just another statistic or number and not even a person.
When you see other kids with the same disability as your child
You feel guilty when you see other children with the same disability as your child. Well, their child is walking and mine isn’t so I must suck as a mom.
Or their child already knows how to use scissors, if I was a good mom, I would work on this more, and my child wouldn’t be so behind.
When you get frustrated around your child
You feel like a bad mom when you get frustrated with your child. You think you should have the patience of Job 24/7 and never ever raise your voice or get mad with your child.
You don’t feel like you do enough
You see other special needs moms who seem like they do so much and then you beat yourself up because you have to work and can’t spend 4 hours a day doing therapy with your child.
Or you can take your child to swimming lessons in the middle of the week at 9 in the morning cause you’re at work.
When you feel like you spend more time/money/energy/whatever on one child more than the other one
You see someone else’s child get more gifts at Christmas and immediately think your kid’s gifts aren’t enough. Or they send their child to an expensive summer camp every summer.
If I just got a second job to send my kid to that camp I would be a good mom.
What to do the next time you feel mom guilt
Mom guilt can be super sneaky and hit you when you least expect it. You could be having a great day and be in a happy go lucky mood and think everything’s right in the world and then, BAM! It hist you out of nowhere.
Recognize it for what it is
Recognizing mom guilt for what it is. It’s just your perfection and comparison coming up. You can choose not to believe it. You can choose to believe you’re a good mom.
Just because you don’t send your child to an expensive private school or feed them healthy food 24/7 doesn’t make you a bad mom. Mom guilt doesn’t serve you. You can think of it as your inner mean girl.
Journal about it
The next time you feel yourself feeling mom guilt, journal about it. Journaling soothes your mind and helps you relax. Science has proven that putting pen to paper and journaling reduces anxiety, depressive thoughts, and just negative thoughts in general.
When you journal, you can do free form writing and just write whatever comes to mind (like you did in a diary as a child) or you can do something called journal prompts.
A journal prompt is where you have a few sentences or a topic to write about and you write a response to the topic. Ex: Write 5 things that make you feel loved and why.
I love journaling in both ways free form and with prompts. I like the prompts because they are more likely to make you write about something you wouldn’t normally write about.
I have some free journal prompts for special needs moms available for you. All you have to do is sign up using the form below to grab your free copy.
Unfollow people on social media
Unfollow people who make you feel mom guilt the most often on social media. There’s no need for your to keep making yourself feel that way every single time you log into Instagram or Facebook. Don’t do that to yourself.
Write a list of the things that make you a great mom
If you feel mom guilt a lot, you can write a list of the things that make you a great mom. You can do this daily to help you realize you’re actually a great mom. It can be big things to small things. There’s no right way to do it. Just write whatever comes to mind.
Maybe I make good braids, I always make sure my kids brush their teeth, I take my daughter to all of her therapy appointments. I make sure to speak up in IEP meetings to make sure my child’s needs are met.
Realize you were put on this earth to be their mom
You need to stop and realize that you were put on this earth to be their mom. No one but you can love your child like you do. They were created to be your children. You were created to be their mom.
You’re not damaging them by them not being perfect. Instead, they will see a beautiful and wonderful mom who loves them dearly, helps keep them safe, tucks them in at night, holds them when they’re scared, etc. They will see the real you. They don’t care that you’re not perfect.
Write a list of the times you listened to your gut about your children and were right
A lot of times special needs moms just have a feeling about their child. Sometimes the medical professionals don’t always see it, but you’re usually right. Sometimes people around you may tell you that you’re overreacting or dreaming up stuff.
But you’re almost always right, aren’t you?
God gave mothers a special intuition about their children. We can sense when something’s not right and we fight for our children. Write about the times when you trusted your gut about your child and you were right.
Maybe someone chalked your infant’s irritability to colic, but you knew it was something more. Maybe your child’s wound wasn’t healing properly and you kept asking people to check it.
Whatever the case is write it down. This will help tell your brain that you’re a smart and amazing mother who is the best mom she can possibly be.
Realize that everybody’s really just winging it and is never finished learning
No one has all the answers. Children don’t come with a manual. There isn’t a right way to be a mother. No one has it all together.
That mom you see in the carpool line who drives the fancy car looks like a model and feeds her children healthy food all the time doesn’t have it together either. She feels mom guilt too.
Heck people probably talk about her that she’s too done up and that she spends more time on herself than her children. That’s something I’ve heard people say about a woman before, really!
Realize life’s 50/50
Life is always going to be 50/50. 50% bad and 50% good. That’s just the contrast of the world. 50% of the time your children will be well behaved and the other 50% of the time they will forget everything you’ve ever taught them.
50% of the time you’re a great mom and 50% of the time you aren’t. That’s just how life is. The 50% bad helps us truly appreciate the good moments with a new outlook.
Realize no one’s perfect
No one is perfect. Every mom experiences mom guilt. Every mom judges herself. Every mom compares herself and her life to others. Every mom has felt like crap after scrolling Instagram. No one is perfect. But that’s the beauty of the world. If everyone was perfect 24/7 that would make for a boring world!
Your idea of a “good mom” is subjective and oftentimes unattainable
You have this idea formulated in your head about what a “good mom” should do and then you constantly beat yourself up when you don’t measure up.
Anytime you feel mom guilt, you’re basically just judging yourself and beating yourself up for not being perfect. If you had a friend that treated you like you treat yourself you’d kick her to the curb.
Mom guilt really comes in by not being confident as a mom. You feel like you’re a mediocre mom and that everyone else has it figured out. That’s not true. They don’t.
The next thing you need to do is to make a daily practice of being nice to yourself. Stop beating yourself up. There’s no sense in it. One of the best ways to get out of your own head is to journal.
You can freeform journal where you just write whatever comes to mine or you can do journal prompts that will guide your direction in writing.
I have free Journal Prompts for Special Needs Moms for you. Just fill out the form below and it will be on its way to your inbox. And don’t forget you’re a great mom!! 🙂