when we were young…

writing with passion, living with vision and acting with intention

The mommy guilt


There is a strong theme of illogical behaviour on the part of us moms throughout our mothering days. We worry even though we all know worrying doesn’t change anything; we repeat phrases that we know they will be ignored, [some of us] tidy up the toys mid-day just because it bugs the heck out of us to see them scattered all over the floor!

And on top of that, many of us are plagued with mommy guilt.

Mommy guilt: the state in which a mother feels bad for her child’s suffering be it physical, emotional or spiritual. Often occurs even when the circumstances are not within the mother’s control.

I have got to come to terms with the fact that I am and never will be a perfect parent. No duh, I know. But from the way I let myself be riddled with guilty emotions, it would seem that nothing short of perfect is good enough for me as a parent. I can’t help but feel it’s partly my fault that my toddler is acting out because he isn’t getting enough sleep (though I diligently get a nap in for him each day, even though that means putting him in the stroller or going for a walk). My husband and I have been implementing a new bedtime strategy and response to his protests and early (5 am) wake-ups.  I avoid making dinner plans with friends because that means he won’t get to bed til later, resulting in an overtired kid and and immensely cantankerous one the following day if not two! I try my best to have our dinner on the table by 5:30 p.m. so that we can start bedtime immediately after since he protests for a minimum of 30-45 minutes. And still, life happens. Friends visit and stay the night, weekends with family away from home are enjoyed with the days following spent trying to get “back on track” with the toddler with fights authority on every level and most of all with sleep.

I don’t know if the shadowed rings under my son’s eyes are hereditary or caused by lack of sleep. I feel responsible though, even though I try my best every day and night to help him get enough sleep and to eat his vegetables.

I am sure I will look back on this time in years to come and realize that ultimately, he was happy and healthy and he lived through it. But honestly, I could cry from frustration, feeling that I just can’t seem to do right by him in this area. I hear past comments of friends and family repeat like a broken record in my brain. “Car naps just aren’t the same,” “Children shouldn’t have dark circles under their eyes” “He’s fine (this when insisting we need to leave from whatever engagement we are at to get him home to bed a good time).”

I know I can’t stop living, although honestly, if it were just me, I probably would become somewhat of a hermit, imprisoned by my children’s needs. Ridiculous, I know. But oftentimes, I would rather just stay home than go out to a friend’s place for dinner because I don’t want to deal with the screaming, irrational and tired toddler the next day when the entertainment is gone and his fatigue catches up with him.

I have mommy guilt.

I don’t need to be told “it’s fine; he won’t remember any of this.” I need to know that I am doing a good job even when the day is one screaming fit to another.

I need to know I’m not alone and there are other moms who feel this way.

Most of all, I need to somehow accept life as it happens even when it hinders my stubborn toddler from getting the rest he needs.

sleeping toddler, car naps


Author: whenwewereyoung...

A stay at home mom of two boys under two, love TED talks, swing dancing and of course, writing. When we were young is my sharing of motherhood, the beautiful, the ugly, the happy, the sad and the world my boys are growing up in.

16 thoughts on “The mommy guilt

  1. Oh I know what you mean and I completely found correlation with myself! When my son is out of schedule at night, we pay it for few days with cries, tantrums… But it’s part of the life! You are a good mom and feeling mommy guilt is good because it means you care and love your son!

  2. What you have is an amazing soon who would not miss a moment of life! He will live large! Anticipate the next day! ox

    • I remind myself of that from time to time, Rosa. I tell myself all this enthusiasm and strong willed behaviour is going to form a leader and a person who will live life big! Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  3. You are totally not alone! We all question if we’re doing the best we can and if we can be doing better. For some reason, mommy guilt just plagues us. Rest assured, you are doing a good job and what’s most important is that you love him!

  4. I can relate so much with you. We schedule playdates pre-nap or post-nap. It is a very rare occasion that I let my boys skip naps. When I do it is because I know they can be in bed early that night. I need sleep and if I don’t get it I’m a grump and these isn’t much patience or love in me, I think it can be the same for my boys.

  5. We all do this to ourselves at one point or another. There are certain parenting moments when I feel like I am acing it and others where I feel like I am not doing enough. This is my constant tug of war.

  6. Mommy guilt is the worst. I don’t feel it so much when it comes to sleep, but I certainly feel it about other aspects of life….

  7. I have TOTALLY been there! My oldest was a dreadful sleeper as a baby and toddler. He made us crazy and imprisoned us in our home. I rarely did anything and when I did I paid for it. It was horrible and I hated it. I felt so bad for him and I was so frustrated as a parent. And then…. one day…. it became easier… a little bit, enough to stop driving us all completely mad. You ARE doing a great job, he is just fine and it will get easier ❤

  8. You are not alone!We all been there or going through it. My girl didn’t sleep well, neither let me sleep for almost 3 years. It will get easier. My co-worker with a teenage son told me, “I am lucky”! compare to what she is going through…

  9. I think you are working very hard to do right his sleep needs. I know how trying a touchy sleeper can be, but also how worth it it is to design a life that supports their quality sleep. Who needs a cranky kid anyways- gah! Good luck, momma.

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