May 3, 2010
We all know the legal definition of guilt, but have you ever looked up the medical dictionary's definition? "Guilt - feelings of culpability especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy; morbid self-reproach often manifest in marked preoccupation with the moral correctness of one's behavior."
Now, how often do we share with other moms about the guilt we feel as mothers? I do, all the time. Whether its guilt over discipline, not spending enough time with the kids, working full-time, something I've said that I wish I hadn't, you name it. Heck, I even felt guilty after I posted what I wrote yesterday, even though it's a valid part of my life and feelings as a mom. But I'm not supposed to have those kind of feelings, right?
Until I read the medical definition of guilt, I had no idea of the damage we're doing to ourselves. Is a little bit of guilt okay? Maybe - it helps us strive to be stronger parents. But what stood out to me were the words "sense of inadequacy" which is sad because I believe we try to live up to this giant, pie in the sky ideal of MOM. Who wouldn't feel inadequate to that? We need to give ourselves a break and realize that we're doing the best we can with what we have. Especially as single moms.
Do I wish I didn't have to work? Yes. But can I change that? Short of winning the lottery, no. So, it's up to me to find a way to make life great regardless. And sometimes that means asking for help. There's nothing inadequate in that. I look for moments to spend one-on-one time with each of my kids by asking my mom to hang out with the other two for an evening. Or how about combining "to do" tasks with something fun - play a board game while you eat dinner or work on spelling words while you take a walk around the block. But remember, you're not inadequate. Being a solo mama is one of the toughest jobs in the world and you're doing it. That should count for something.
Now, the thing that really hit me the hardest in that definition was "morbid self-reproach." No more. We need to be our own biggest cheerleaders. (And if you know a single mom or dad, cheer for them.) Enough feeling sorry for ourselves and enough wishing things were different. We've been blessed with these beautiful children to raise. No, not every day is going to be easy. In fact, a lot of days are going to be pretty hard. But we can do it. If we believe in ourselves. After all, what are we teaching our children with "morbid self-reproach"? That nothing we do is ever good enough? Which trickles down to nothing they do will ever be good enough. Think about it.