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30 Reasons to Throw Away Maternal Guilt

I’m sick and tired of the guilt. Here are 30 reasons to let it go.

1 – You gave up wine for nine months, got fat, got hemorrhoids, got back pain and got varicose veins. You grew a human being inside your body and then pushed it out. Your kids owe you, not the other way around.

2 – There is no prize for most selfless mother.

3 – Joan of Arc was a martyr. It wasn’t sexy, AND she got burned at the stake.

4 – You yelled, and they didn’t really deserve it? This barely makes up for the countless times they did deserve it, and you didn’t yell.

5 – You’ve had take-out three times this week, and the other two nights were bagel bites and chicken nuggets? 20% of kids in America are hungry. Your kids are lucky to have food. Make sure you tell them so.

6 – Children still love mothers who beat them. You can’t lose their affection, no matter how badly you screw up.

7 – If your children were better kids, you’d be a better mom.

8 – You didn’t give them shaken baby syndrome.

9 – They forgot their homework, and you don’t have time to bring it up to the school? Let me repeat … THEY forgot their homework …

10 – You are doing the best you can.

11 – If you are the perfect parent, they won’t be able to handle the pressure when they have their own kids. Therapy is expensive.

12 – Guilt is a complete waste of energy. Move on.

13 – You were late picking them up? Standing alone on a corner may be the only downtime in their over scheduled lives. You did them a favor.

14 – You were impatient? Believe me, they barely noticed, and if they did will forget it in a minute when they need something else from you.

15 – Someday, your children will have to fly the coop for good. If you’ve never let them test their wings and fall, they may crash and burn in the real world.

16 – You are judging yourself more harshly than anyone else would ever judge you. Lighten up.

17 – Your mom made mistakes, and you turned out awesome.

18 – Even if you parent flawlessly, your children will find a way to blame you for something in their life. Stop trying so hard.

19 – Motherhood is not a job. You have no boss, and no, your children are not the boss of you. You cannot be fired, nor can you quit. You are in it for the long haul, and like any life stage, we learn as we go.

20 – While motherhood is not a job, it can be really, really hard. Give yourself a break. None of us are fully equipped or prepared.

21 – “Perfect” mothers make really boring friends.

22 – You missed their soccer game? Good. Sometimes it is fun to actually tell your mom about something that happened rather than having her live every moment with you.

23 – Jeannette Walls grew up with a dysfunctional, negligent mother. She’s was on the New York Times Bestseller’s List for 261 weeks with her memoir, The Glass Castle. Practice some neglect. It will be good for them in the long run.

24 – Kids sense guilt like vultures sense fresh blood. Do not let them prey upon your weakness. Be strong.

25 – Guilt causes worry. Worry causes fine lines. Fine lines make you look old.

26 – The father of your kids has little to no guilt, and he doesn’t have any stretch marks.

27 – Kids fall. They bleed. They need stitches. They break stuff. They just do. Holding yourself responsible is egocentric and crazy. You are not omniscient, you are not all powerful, and you don’t have a crystal ball. Learn from the bad stuff, but don’t beat yourself up over it.

28 – Guilt is exhausting, and you have kids. You have enough to be exhausted about.

29 – You didn’t play with them today? You weren’t patient? You let them watch too much TV? You didn’t do their science project for them? SO WHAT? Our warped definition of a perfect mother as someone who lives selflessly, giving her children all she has and fulfilling their every need, would likely produce incapable, unhappy children, and it is dangerous to our psyche. This unattainable perfection isn’t even one we should be striving for. Be o.k. with being imperfect, and your imperfect kids will be happier, healthier and more self-sufficient.

30 – You are a great mom. Just ask your kids. (Unless you have a teenager, then wait a few years to ask them.)

Guilt is a form of self hatred. Take time for yourself, and learn to love who you are, and the guilt will diminish. It won’t go away completely, but you have to try. You have to let it go, so you can enjoy this crazy, wonderful ride we call parenting — you sacrificed your wine and your body for these little parasites, after all. Most kids are wonderful and they will be fine — despite our inadequacies.

I had some more reasons, but after coming up with these, I think I’ll go lie on the couch and have some Me-Time. Or, I’ll pick the kids up at school, make them a healthy, homemade snack, and drive them around all afternoon — one or the other.


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About Dr. Karen Latimer

I’m a family physician now struggling to take care of a bunch of kids who keep calling me Mom. When I’m not wiping butts, refereeing sibling rivalry and chauffeuring over-scheduled little people, I write a family medical blog that gives you five thoughts on all sorts of different health topics.

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