Being a mum = feeling guilty?

Sarah - posted on 03/20/2010 ( 29 moms have responded )

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So i've been looking at threads on COM's for a long time now, and it seems like being a mum means a lifetime of feeling guilty or like a failure.
We feel guilty if our births go wrong, if we don't breastfeed, if they still have a dummy, if we shout at the kids, if they fall over etc etc.

I know i feel guilty and like a failure quite often!!

Is it just the way of the world that mum's feel this way?
Should we feel guilty about some of things, all of these things, none of these things?

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Mary - posted on 03/20/2010

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Well, I was raised Catholic, so I had that guilt thing down cold prior to becoming a mother, lol!

I do agree, it does seem like a LOT of mothers feel guilty about things they really have no control over. I wonder...typically, before becoming moms, we COULD control most aspects of our life, and typically, with enough hard work and perseverance, we could achieve most of the goals we set for ourselves. That all goes out the window once you become pregnant...you cannot, through sheer will power, have a healthy uncomplicated pregnancy. You cannot prevent a miscarriage, or congenital deformities, or even (in most cases) a pre-term delivery. You cannot control how labor progresses, or even if you have an adequate-sized pelvis for the baby to fit through, or fix them if they go into distress during labor.

And then, you go home, with this tiny little life who is totally dependent upon you. You THINK that every little hiccup and cry is a reflection of how you are doing as a mother. You rejoice when they meet their milestones early, or on time, and breathe a sigh of relief that you must be doing something right. But if, oh my!, they fall behind on the growth charts, or aren't sitting up by 6 months...well, whose fault is that?? It MUST be some one's, right? You are their mother...it *must* be because you are doing something wrong...right??

Of course not! Really, you cannot, with even the greatest efforts in the world, control every little aspect of your child's growth, development or even their innate intelligence or personality. On some level, we all know that, and yet...we still feel so damned responsible for every little thing, and no amount of rationalizing seems to fix that. Look back at your own childhood (especially those teen years!), and honestly...were your parents "to blame" for all the bad, stupid or chance things that occurred to you? Of course not!

As an adult, I recognize that my mother tried her very best to do what was right by me, and protect me from anything harmful - both physical and emotional. However, it was simply beyond her power in many, many instances. It was never her fault, and yet I know that she ached every time I was hurt, and looked for a way to "fix" it. I'm 39, and she STILL does it! I can look at this now, and know without question, that nothing bad in my life was ever caused by her...she was the one who gave me the strength, knowledge, encouragement and support to meet all of life's challenges. But I bet you anything, she still feels guilty that I had a single moment of pain, even if it was never her fault!

I wish I could tell you that KNOWING this means I don't feel guilty when Molly has something as innocuous as diaper rash, or when she stumbled and scraped her chin yesterday...but that would be a big fat lie. I hurt when she hurts, and I suppose I always will. I rejoice in her triumphs, and agonize when she struggles. In her, I see a small reflection of myself...it is my greatest source of pride, and yet, it makes me see my own inadequacies as well. I am responsible for her. I am her mother.

Tah - posted on 03/20/2010

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@ Allison..don't you dare let people who you don't know and who don't know you or ur situation make you question the mom you are...if you are doing what yo can in the best interest of your child, and it works for you..don't let internet moms make you doubt who u are as a mom.



I was in a unique situation as i have been caring for children, literally, since i was 7..I have sisters that are as much as 12 years older than me and when they were having children, ( i have nephews as old as 22 and i am 29) i was changing pampers, babysitting, making bottles, giving baths,, at the market helping pick out jar food and feeding them, mixing rice and oatmeal cereal in bottles and washing baby clothes, going to the park and playing with the children and everything else you can imagine.



When i had my son at 16 it was old hat to me, i had seen sisters breastfeed so i understood the concept(the pain was a shock) but i caught on and everything else i had been doing for years, the difference is that i was now paying for those things and i loved this baby as only a mother could. Somethings you can never be prepared for, like when my youngest broke his arm at 2 from reaching out to stop himself from fallin(greenstick fracture) or when he had pneumonia, or raising these children on my own often because my husband is out defending the country.



I am not as emotional as some moms, but i don't love my children any less. When they get a boo-boo, i don't say what can i do better, children play and they fall, i break out the first aid kit, clean it, triple antibiotic ointment, bandage(sometimes for comfort) and kiss it, then them and send them back out to play. I did tear up when they said his arm was broken because u wish you could take the pain and wear the cast for them, but you can't, you can just be the best mom you can as you help them deal, I let him sleep with me, made sure he was in the least amount of pain possible, and helped him use his other arm for things....But i hurt even when he didn't seem to. Or when he had to get blood taken and shots and breathing treatment after treatment in the hospital, i of course wanted to take that from him, but that's what moms do, they hurt for you.



I wear many hats, i am a friend when they need to play and talk, i am a disciplinarian when they are disobedient, a tutor when it's time for homework, a cook when it's time to eat, a teacher when there are things to learn. a chauffer when it's time for activites, an advocate when they need to be stood up for, and much more....but the one hat i never take off is the one that says mom..i have and continue to earn it everyday and I do my best it....

Tah - posted on 03/20/2010

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i must be a weirdo...i don't feel guilty...i breastfed and bottlefed, my kids never used pacifiers or sucked their fingers, i had a crash c-section when Rylan's heart rate dropped, i work and go to school, i also take them to their activities and do projects with them, i just helped Rylan(3) decorate a box for school...good fun...If i am raising my voice, then it needed to be raised, I raise my children the best way I know how and i will make mistakes, but i only have their best interest at heart and I don't feel guilty for making these choices, or anything that has happened thus far, because it has worked for us...and i don't allow anyone else's views or judgements make me second guess because we are all different and chose different paths....If you don't respect me for not breastfeeding, that's ur deal, think i shouldn't spank, that's on you also, and all the other things that make people on here second guess themselves...

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Rosie - posted on 03/22/2010

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i somewhat agree with esther-at least to a point. i feel guilty that we don't live in a fancy house, i feel guilty that i can't do alot of things that my parents were never able to do for me. in a way i feel like i let my parents down, that i wasn't able to break the cycle of mediocracy in my family, and now i'm letting my kids down. i never got to go to disneyland, or anywhere outside of iowa, for vacations. and it's turning out that my kids will probably never get to do any of these things either.
all of my guilt comes from lack of money. i have complete confidence in my parenting skills, and my ability to love my boys, and their ability to love me back proves that i'm doing someting right. i know money isn't everything, but when you grow up without it, you want to be able to give your children what you didn't get. when you figure out that you can't do that, the guilt comes rolling in.

Charlie - posted on 03/22/2010

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(((((hugs)))) Esther , hey if people on COM who have never met you but love you STILL know your a brilliant mom then i am sure your beautiful boy knows it 10 fold !!

Esther - posted on 03/22/2010

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Awww - thanks Ladies! Yesterday when I asked him if maybe he was a little bit tired (it was around nap time) he said "no mama, I'm not tired, I'm happy!". So I guess my work is done ;)

[deleted account]

Esther, I promise that your son won't appreciate a big house or an ivy league education as much as he appreciates your time, love and affection. Kids don't need "things", they need us! And from what I know about you from COM, it seems you are a wonderful mother. Sending you another big hug!

Tah - posted on 03/21/2010

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golly geez esther...give yourself some credit...you can't fel guilty about things you can't control..like the train being delayed,..i think he will be proud that mommy did everything she could to provide those things for him, i work, school, mommy and wife and it isn't easy but, you can make it not as hard by just knowing you love him and your family and are making the the best choices for them and for the future...i'll have Dana hug u again, cause, well frankly..i don't hug....(i know i'm jaded,)..but i feel ya

Esther - posted on 03/21/2010

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I think it's great that so many of you never deal with feelings of guilt. I wish I was one of you. Unfortunately I have feelings of guilt ALLLLLL the time. I'm a working mom and trying to juggle work, being a mom and being a wife is a lot tougher than I had ever anticipated. Don't get me wrong - I was never under the illusion that it would be easy, but I did not fully appreciate just how hard it would be. So I feel guilty pretty much 24/7. My husband is definitely neglected so I feel guilty about that regularly. I actually don't feel guilty about having a job because my time at home is completely devoted to my son and I think he gets a lot out of the daycare he attends (and he enjoys it) so that part of it I'm OK with. But I do feel guilty if I take more than the normal workhours away from him. I work from home on Fridays and if I pick my son up at the normal hour (rather than earlier since I don't have to commute) - you guessed it, I feel guilty. Hell, I feel bad if my train is delayed. I definitely feel guilty whenever I do something for myself during hours I could have spent with my son. So I never do. I also feel guilty to the people I work for since I am not half as committed as I used to be and unable to get as much done as I used to get done. And then there is the worst feeling of all - feeling like I'm just not good enough for my son. I think he's so wonderful and so miraculous and so ..... GREAT that he deserves the very best mom that ever lived. I want him to have a mom who can give him every opportunity in the world. The best education, pay for the best college, give him a beautiful home with a beautiful room and a big garden to play in etc. A mom who he can look up to. I don't ever feel like I'm quite there. But I do the best I can, and I certainly think he could do worse. He also could not find a mom who could love him more than I do. So for now, I guess that'll have to do.

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Those who go around making declarations of superior parenting choices may only be setting themselves up for a fall if they are unwilling to bend to the needs of their children as individuals.


I agree Cathy! No one is perfect! We all make mistakes! Having too many expectations can definitely be settin urself up for failure!

Charlie - posted on 03/21/2010

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I dont feel guilty although i know a lot of people do feel the pressure from other mothers who feel the need to be judgmental .

Im sure people judge me but i know i am a great mum , i do my best and as long as my child is safe ,healthy and loved i could not care less what any one else thinks about me or my mothering . in fact if those women want to waste so much time bitching about others and harmless choices they make on their path then perhaps they should look at their own lives ( i think we do reserve the right to judge when a child's health and safety is at serious risk ) .

Dont feel guilty if you know your doing your best even if you do trip up once in a while , we are all human , just be happy in yourself and your children

Gosh that sounded so lame haha .

Amie - posted on 03/20/2010

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I've never been overly emotional about injuries. They happen, I had my fair share as a kid (the worst being a header off my bike and scraping off half my face), my kids have had their fair share with more to come I'm sure. My son is the worst culprit. My girls it's mostly bruises, scrapes and cuts. My son has broken his leg twice, fallen head first down concrete stairs, winded himself numerous times, ran full on head first into walls, he's a boy.. you get the picture. None of it has ever fazed me. We go to the ER, he gets fixed, we go home.
Now as for questions on am I doing it right? I used to wonder... watching our oldest though I know we're raising her and the younger 3 right by OUR standards. I know they are absorbing the knowledge, values, ethics, kindness, compassion, etc. that we want them too. There is no expense we will spare, there is no road we won't take, we do everything humanly possible to ensure our children have bright and promising futures. They are on the right road in what we can teach them, we will always be there to teach and guide them though. It's not something that ever goes away. I still turn to my mom or my dad when I need them. They're always right there. Even if this means driving 5 hours in the middle of the night (which both of them have done for me.)
To me that is what is the most important. Not that I'm infallible and the best mommy ever. I'm human, we all are, no one is perfect. What we are though are the perfect mommies (or daddies) to our own children. We know them like no other, we love them like no other, we are always there and will always be by their side. That is what is important. We all make mistakes, it won't hurt our children to know that their parents are not perfect. =) Accidents happen, mistakes happen... it doesn't make anyone any less of a parent.
We are our own worst critics though.

Ez - posted on 03/20/2010

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Ahhh Mummy Guilt lol. I think it's normal to question our behaviour and decisions when things go wrong, on the large and small scale. Last week Milla took a high dive off the change table and put her bottom teeth through her top lip =| Blood, and tears, everywhere. I switched into automatic pilot to get her settled and the blood cleaned up, and then afterwards the guilt started. I was standing right there, but had reached to the right to open the wardrobe. I felt so bad, and just kept saying to her (through my own tears lol) 'Mummy's sorry.. Oh bubba I'm sorry'. Ofcourse it really wasn't my 'fault', it was an accident (one of many to come I'm sure) but I felt like I'd let her down and that's why she was in pain :(

Being on COMs for so long has definitely opened my eyes to other parenting styles, and I guess has had me question my own on occasion. But I can guarantee that if I do have some sense of disappointment or failure, it has nothing to do with what a stranger has said.

Carolee - posted on 03/20/2010

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Mary, I hope it's allright, but I copy and pasted what you posted to Microsoft Word so that I could show my husband that he doesn't need to feel the same guilt! He's actually got it WORSE than me! I honestly think that's because I've had a year longer than him to realize my innatiquacies and limitations (my son's not biologically his, but he still has the guilt that he's not doing EVERY single thing right).

Tah - posted on 03/20/2010

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i know right...lol...even when the doctor says to do it it's not okay..guess my mom card is revoked..lol

Lea - posted on 03/20/2010

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Well its kind of a unique thing where being a mom, you are your own boss. You hold the standards for what kind of mom you want to be, and you recognize it when you fall short. I have had those moments, and instead of allowing myself to dwell on it I tell myself that I have a second chance tomorrow and I figure out what to do with tomorrow. It usually works.

[deleted account]

I don't feel guilty in the real world and never have. It never crossed my mind that I was a bad mom until I joined CoM. I still don't feel bad when I'm away from the computer, but I do have moments where I doubt myself and feel like a failure once I get on the net.

Krista - posted on 03/20/2010

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Mary, you've got me all misty as well. And it's true. I remember reading somewhere that whenever you have kids, your heart is no longer your own. They carry a piece of it wherever they go. So when anything happens to hurt them, you feel it in your own heart.

Makes sense to me.

And yes, we feel guilty for the tiniest things. The other day, I noticed that Sam has a tiny, tiny, tiny bruise on his foot. He kicks everything, so it's no wonder. But just seeing that little blemish on his perfect little foot made me so sad.

With the guilt comes over-protectiveness, of course. :) On our way home from the hospital with the baby, we stopped at a bakery. I had had gestational diabetes, so Keith thought it would be a nice treat to get me a big honkin' loaf of fresh white bread. We're in the parking lot, I'm in the back seat with Sam while Keith's in the store, and the car windows are down, due to it being a warm day. A car pulls up next to us, stops, the windows roll down, and the woman driving lit up a cigarette. I could only smell the faintest hint of smoke, but at that moment, a rage went through me like nothing I had ever experienced. If it hadn't meant leaving the baby alone in the car, I would have gladly gone over to that woman, hauled her out of her car, and beat the shit out of her.

Love makes us nuts, doesn't it?

Mary - posted on 03/20/2010

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Esther, if it's any consolation, I was crying while I typed! ;-)

NOTHING in this world can stir up my emotions more than thinking about how much I love Molly, and how very much motherhood means to me. It also gave me a whole new appreciation for my own mother...and made me finally, truly understand just how much SHE loves me!

[deleted account]

I don't feel guilty or like I'm a failure.....I always do my best and that's part of the reason why I'm here.....to learn; hopefully from other people's mistakes so I don't make 'em too! LOL!



I use the information I get here to make me a better parent........even though I don't always agree with people I still take what they have to say to heart and I love hearing other opinions......it helps me form my own decision that I can be proud of!

Amber-Dawn - posted on 03/20/2010

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I don't think we should feel guilty about any of these things. The only thing a mother should feel guilty for is not raising they're child to the best of they're ability. And if they're doing that, they probably don't really care enough to feel guilty. I can understand feeling disapointed in some things. Like not being able to breastfeed. I wasn't able to, and yes I felt disapointed. But I reasoned, I'd rather have a well-fed baby, even if formula isn't the healthiest choice.

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