One beautiful Saturday morning as usual I was driving my son to his swimming school, when I had this conversation with him:
Me: “Are you excited about today’s class? It’s your first day after graduating to Level 3.”
My son: “Yeeaaaa….I am excited, I wonder who my new instructor is going to be”
Me: “Hmm, I am sure it’s someone nice, you will surely like her”
We continued to talk about his swimming lessons and instructors, when suddenly my 7 year old stopped talking, thought for a moment and told me:
“Mom, I like you the most in the whole wide world!”
My son and I always tell each other how much we love the other, but this time I wondered why he suddenly decided to tell me this in between our conversation. I asked him what made him say that all of a sudden. His reply made me tear up a little.
He said “Because, I know you work so hard and that you are doing it for me!”
Why did his reply make me emotional? I mean, yes it was sweet and every mom tears up when their children tell them how much they love them! But what I was feeling now was something different, something that felt like relief! The thought in my head went like this “Wow! He acknowledges the fact that I’m working hard for him….he is not upset with me for spending time away from him, for not being able to play with him every time he wants but I’m unable to, because I have to work or run an errand or whatever!” Yes it was the guilt….the guilt every mom faces at some point or the other during motherhood.
Mom guilt, as it is called by the experts, is actually a thing. It is a feeling a mother, or any parent, gets when something happens to their child and she blames herself, whether or not the blame is warranted. According to a recent survey by Babycenter a whopping 94 percent of moms go on the guilt trip over issues ranging from the amount of time they spend with their kids to the kind of diapers they use! Considering the amount of stumbling we go through the entirety of parenthood, mommy guilt can be a full time job if you let it be, which just like stress, can be annoying and exhausting. But hearing my son say those words got me thinking. Am I not underestimating my son’s ability to understand me? Am I not placing too much pressure on myself which is in turn making me feel all that guilt? Is that guilt misplaced?
I mean, come on, instead of enjoying that moment with my son, there I was, feeling guilty and relieved that my boy is not upset with me! Why would he be upset with me? He knows that I love him to the moon and back, he knows that there is nothing in this universe that is more important for me than his smile, he knows that his mom will never let him go to bed without giving him a goodnight kiss! When he knows all of that, what was it that I was so worried about?
That was the moment I decided that I am going to stop beating myself up with every little thing when it comes to parenting my boy. That was when I thought I should probably remind myself and the other mothers/parents out there who are like me, of all the wonderful things that we do for our children and don’t give ourselves credit for! Case in point being:
- We wake up every morning thinking about them, go about doing stuff for them and go to bed only after kissing them good night and tucking them in!
- We listen to their stories in awe even though it is the hundredth time we are hearing the same story, we read to them and play with them.
- We made that breakfast and packed lunch in time for school, yet somewhere in our mind we feel it was not ‘healthy’ enough!
- We showed up for all those parent teacher conferences, we showed up for that music recital after paying a fortune for the music lessons!
- We pulled an all-nighter when they were sick and needed us in place of their pillows!
- We hugged them, laughed with them and every once in a while jumped on the bed with them!
As you can see, we are already doing the things that matter and that’s what counts. How some other mom does it or if she is doing a better job or if you are not doing a good enough job is not what matters! What matters is that we are actually there for them, mothering/parenting them! Although that realization came to me a little late, it helped me breathe a big sigh of relief!
Every child loves to say this to their parent “I like you the most in the whole wide world!” and every parent deserves to hear it and enjoy that moment! So next time when mommy guilt creeps into your mind, ready to take a bite, just remind yourself of all the wonderful things you are already accomplishing as a mother and tell that guilt to go take a hike!