Tag Archives: guilt

A Decade of Motherhood Come and Gone – What I Have Learned

7 Oct

Today’s guest blogger is one of our awesome faculty members, Erin Stegman. Through her post, she is showing how much we grow through motherhood and how much we need to forgive ourselves.

Yesterday was my son’s tenth birthday.  Throughout the day I began to reflect on the past ten years and how much he has grown.  At the same time I found myself reflecting on my journey as a mother and how much I have grown.  To my surprise I realized that maybe I have grown more than my son.  I think I speak for most mothers out there that when you are pregnant and throughout your stay at the hospital you are ready and willing to take on the world and be the best mom ever – losing your temper, yelling, and not letting your kids manipulate you into getting what they want  is never part of the equation.  However, not too far into my motherhood, I realized that this fantasy I wanted to live in was not a reality.  It wasn’t long before the exhaustion and down right mental state of changing diapers every 30 minutes and never getting to take a shower until maybe the following afternoon took over and I became everything I didn’t want to become.  I had to face the fact that the life-long mommy course I signed up for was much harder than I thought.  As time passed I began to question my abilities and the mommy “guilt” was so overwhelming that I know I have more sleep than gained throughout these ten years.

It is now my belief that I was WAY too hard on myself.  There was no possible way I could (or can) do everything right.  Ten years has taught me that I need to forgive myself more than I need to dunk myself into a swirling pool of guilt.  This has not been easy to discover since I have been through divorce; dated some real doozies; and, tried to find my own self through the process.  Life happens and we are dealt a new hand everyday and we don’t get to choose most of the time.  We can only choose our actions and reactions.

I have reflected and now feel proud of the mom I was most of time and don’t want to carry the times where I was less than perfect with me into the next decade.  I am human.  Humans make mistakes.  I have found great pleasure in letting my son know this as well.  He needs to know that even though I am his mother and protector now and beyond my life on earth, I, too, don’t always get everything right.  Hopefully, this will sink in and he won’t be so hard on himself when he is less than perfect.  I handle this by telling him, “Guess what?  I was human today.  This is what happened…This is how I took care of it.” Being honest with your kids is so important – they should know that you struggle at times just like they do.  I think this has helped me be a better mother and friend to myself knowing that I make mistakes and my child will too.

“Children don’t come with a manual” is a phrase all parents have heard before.  I have to remind myself that I don’t have one either.  We are consistently changing and evolving and we are never the same as the day before. I am of the opinion that moms need to give themselves more credit and realize that they did the best they could do at the time.  If we beat ourselves up for something that happened yesterday, we will remain stagnant and will never grow which means we stay in the past and aren’t present for our children.

What does this mean for my next decade of motherhood?  Not sure.  Am I any wiser? NO…just willing to let life happen – one day at a time. I am proud the woman (not just the mother) that I have become and am ready to let my mommy journey continue for as long as I am privileged to do so.

P.S. Since I have never considered myself a scholar of the English language, I have already forgiven myself for any and all grammatical errors written above.  Hope the readers do to.

Mommy Guilt

31 Aug

We’re happy to have guest blogger Shelley Hailler, working mom and author of the new children’s book, Where Does Mommy Go?

I’ve been coming across a great deal of stories, blogs, and blog posts about something called mommy guilt. For those of you not familiar with the term, it refers to the emotional repercussions that come about after any instance in which a woman feels that she has fallen short, under-delivered, or outright failed in her attempts to be a good mom.

Of course I can relate. Who can’t? Show me a mom and I’ll show you someone who can think of a dozen experiences wherein she disappointed her children and herself.

My personal best “Worst Mommy Moment”? Easy. That would be the pre-kindergarten Christmas Pageant, December, 2000. All of the children were assigned costume-requiring parts in what promised to be a spectacular musical revue. My little angel was cast as a sheep, along with two of her friends.

Now, it is important to note that, at the time, I was not only a working mom. I was a newly divorced, struggling-to-make-it, single working mom. The only thing that I ran shorter on than money was time. So it logically follows that I opted to make a costume for my daughter, and that I waited until the night before the event to construct it.

In a rare moment of semi-organized planning ahead, I did purchase materials for the costume about five days in advance. They were:
– one size four sweatshirt, black
– one size four pair of leggings, black
– one bottle of silver glitter glue
– one bottle of Elmer’s School Glue
– four bags of cotton balls

I intended to sew the cotton balls on with a needle and thread that I had at home. Alas, at eleven-thirty on the night before the pageant it became apparent that there would not be sufficient time to sew all those cotton balls. Thank goodness I had purchased the glue.

I spent the next two hours gluing cotton balls to the black sweatshirt and, at about two a.m., sank (exhausted) into bed.

When I awoke the next morning I was chagrined that some of the cotton balls actually fell off when I lifted the sweatshirt from the kitchen table. But that was ok. I had the glitter glue.

I proceeded to fill the holes with clever swirls of glitter glue.  Fast-forward to the big event. My dad had offered to take my daughter to school at the appointed time and get her all costumed up, as I was unable to leave work early enough to get her there. (My parents have always been such great helps to me. Thanks Mom and Dad.)

When I showed up, the kids had already taken the “stage” in the gym. As I headed for the bleachers my path was suddenly blocked by (have you guessed?) Dad. He placed both hands on my shoulders and stood directly in front of me, effectively obstructing my view of the kids.

“I want you to know that it’s fine,” He said. Confused, I peered around him, searching for the sheep.

And there they were. Two white fluffy sheep-children in amazing rented costumes, and a third, in a shabby black sweatsuit with three determined cotton balls clinging in random places. All three sheep were singing their hearts out.

But one little sheep had mange. And it was my fault. My eyes filled with tears for us both.

That night I was very low. Talk about mommy guilt. I was so ashamed.

Now, when I look back through the more objective lens of time passed, I realize that there was nothing of which to be ashamed. I did the best I could with what I had. And that’s really all we parents can expect from ourselves.

It was years before I told anyone that story, and I cried again in the telling. But I can laugh about it now, and so can my daughter, who remembers the program and that we all came to see her, but honestly doesn’t remember the terrible costume. And therein lies the biggest lesson of all.

Shelley Hallier is a Kansas City-area marketing executive who left a successful 12-year stint in the corporate realm in favor of independent consulting, after giving birth to twins in 2008. She recently released her first children’s book, “Where Does Mommy Go?” directed at busy moms and their little ones. With darling illustrations and a sweet message, the book addresses the mystery of the working mommy from the child’s perspective. It is available in hardcover at http://wheremommygoes.com or atAmazon.com.

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