My news feed is full of ways I can feel bad about myself as mother. I didn’t breast feed, I didn’t co-sleep, I spend time on my phone, I work outside the home, I work inside the home, I don’t play on the floor with my son. The list could go on and on. I could scroll all day and find new ways to feel bad about myself as a mother. And I think that’s what the world wants, for us to constantly be questioning ourselves as moms, and it’s easy to go down that path. I know because I’ve done it before.
But I’m done with it. I’m done with mom guilt. Done with the questioning and the feeling like I’m failing because I’m not what some internet article says I should be. Jack is now 5 and with a new baby on the way I like to think I’ve done a good job. And while I know I’m not perfect (who of us is) I like to think I’ve done pretty damn well as his mom.
Last week I was reading an article about parents spending too much too much time on their screens and how it makes kids feel. And as I sat there while Jack watched Rescue Bots, cuddled up next to me and I read the article on my phone, I found myself wondering if 20 years ago someone would have even commented on a mom reading a magazine while her kid watched TV. Or if parents reading the newspaper draws the same criticism as a parent reading on a screen?
There only seems to be two options when you read these articles, you either drop what you are doing and spend every moment with your kid, you don’t check your phone ever or you’re an inattentive parent. There is no middle ground, no balance. Motherhood these days is all or nothing.
And yet, I know that my son is perfectly content playing with his action figures while I work, he doesn’t need me there directing his play time. I know that a few hours of Rescue Bots on Netflix is not going to ruin his college chances. He’s unlikely to find himself on a psychiatrist couch because Mom made him have some quiet time while she had a cup of coffee and checks Pinterest.
Motherhood like most things in life is all about balance. Some days we spend 3 hours coloring and listening to music and other days we run errands and barely squeeze in a bed time story. Some days are filled with play dates and cooking together and working together on a project. And other days I pass him the Ipad and we cuddle on the couch while I read on my Kindle. Some days he plays by himself all afternoon while I work and some days we spend the day playing together.
And there is no right or wrong. I’ve come to realize that I could spend my time questioning how I spent my time. I could spend my days feeling guilty for the times when I was doing something else, for the days that weren’t the most fun or I could accept that, that’s life. Not every day can be all about you, not for me or for a 5-year-old. I can drown myself in mom guilt or I can choose to focus on the quality of our time together. I can focus on this little boy who is growing up way too fast and who I am so proud to call mine. I can let go of all the mom guilt, because what mom guilt really is, is a waste of time.