My days of clinical are filled with mothers, and their precious new babies. I care for these women like they were my sister. I come to the postpartum floor and I am handed a set of names, I read all about them in the medical record, and I start to make a plan about how I can best support and care for them that day. Then, I stand outside their door, take a deep breath and every single time I take a second to say to myself, ” I love you, whoever you are, and I will give you all I can in the time I am here.” I am devoting my life to motherhood, to taking care of women in whatever stage of motherhood they are in. At the moment, it’s only post delivery.
My immersion into my life’s work has left me thinking about our greater community of mothers. When I had my daughter I was a bit unsuccessful at finding a group of mothers to relate to. Many of my own friends were not having children (ever, or not yet), and even though I did some ECFE (early childhood family education) classes, I just didn’t make “mommy friends”. I am a pretty introverted when it comes to making new connections, and keep my friends to pretty small numbers.
I have a better connection to other moms now that more of my friends have decided to become moms as well. I have also met many other parents through the parent center on campus, and every day I put on my scrubs and head to the floor I see more and more moms. The one aspect of motherhood I wish I could alter is the mommy guilt. Most moms I see have it in one form or another. For me personally, it’s the guilt of being a student. My time at home has to be split between family and homework. My schedule has to be altered to help me be successful in school. I feel guilty for missed bedtimes, missed homework help for my daughter, and looking at my computer instead of absorbing the time with my children. The new moms may feel guilt for a labor that ended in cesarean section, breastfeeding that isn’t going well, or missing their older children at home for the couple days they are on in the hospital. The point being, if it’s not one thing it’s another. I am not sure we will every be without this form of mommy guilt, because it’s a reflection of our desire to love and raise our children as best we are able.
The ugly side of mommy guilt is the guilt and negativity that is expressed to other moms. I see it in nasty comments on blog pages, and the looks given across the playgrounds. This is the side of mommy guilt I wish I could erase, the little (and sometimes big) digs we make at each other. We each know our kids the best, we each do the best we can in the circumstances of our own lives. I am not saying every mom is perfect, but aren’t we hard enough on ourselves already?
Lets try to remember that we don’t know the whole story when that mom looses her temper at the playground, and be kind when one of us shows up for school pick up time with less then perfect hair (or the sweats I have been doing homework in all day), and not give nasty looks to the mom who is formula feeding her small baby. We do our best. We love our kids. Lets extend support and appreciation instead of up turned noses or nasty comments. Just a thought. I love motherhood and moms, but mommy guilt I could do with less of.