1. The overwhelming feeling of not doing enough for your child.
2. The feeling you’re abandoning your child when you want to pursue other pleasures where they aren’t the focal point
This is my own definition of mommy guilt, but I'm sure others can relate. As mothers, we often forget who we were before motherhood. While my daughter, Zion, has been the catalyst for change in my life, I had to remember who I was while letting the old version of myself die. Childless Kierra didn’t love who she was, she wasn’t confident and she was lost. Through life and hard lessons, I learned I have to give myself self-compassion and be kinder to myself, but sometimes the truth of my power isn’t wrapped in a pretty bow.
I’m still struggling with this, but now I have added mommy guilt on top of it. Parenting while coping with depression and anxiety is one of the most difficult battles I have faced, which leads to more guilt. Many days I don’t want to get out of bed, I don’t want to eat and sleeping is the only activity that feels good. But somehow, I still do what I need to for Zion.
I haven’t been away from my daughter for more than a couple hours and some days I feel I have failed her in more ways than one — but she’s only 2 years old. She doesn’t see me in the way I see myself, because when I look in the mirror, I see my shortcomings and everything that I “should” be doing. When I pick her up from school and she runs up to me yelling “mommy,” I am reminded that I am doing the best I can. She runs to me and nuzzles her head into mine then curls up in my arms because she feels loved and protected.
Motherhood doesn’t come with an instruction manual.
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I ultimately have to make the tough decisions on my own and not let the mommy guilt influence me. I work to surround her around strong women and provide her a solid foundation academically, spiritually and emotionally. But when it comes to realizing my own power, I allow myself to get in my own way.
There are many ways you can deal with reconciling if you’re just “doing enough,” but more than likely if your heart is in the right place and you’re doing everything in your power to make sure your child has the best life possible, you’re doing just fine. The key is self-compassion, self-care, self-love, and, I will always say, therapy.
Here are some ways I've found works to manage mommy guilt:
1. Plan a trip.
Summer 2019 I am going on a girls trip to Cuba. This will be the first trip without Zion. I know I will miss her, but some time away will be a reminder of who I am outside of motherhood.
2. Find a hobby.
I workout, joined volunteer organizations and am working on my passion project. Hobbies outside of work and home can provide an outlet.
3. Have an activity that is only for you and your child.
Zion and I have our own activities we enjoy doing, such as, taking walks, putting her in dance/art classes and wash day. Building our bond is one of the most important tasks you can do with your child.
As mothers, we must honor ourselves in the midst of motherhood. Especially as a single mother, I must own my truth, which means honoring my past, learning from its lessons and not fearing what others may think, because the only voice that matters is my own and my daughter’s. Outside opinions can lead to comparison and amplify mommy guilt.
Even though Zion’s a toddler, I encourage open conversation so I can better understand her needs. This is a practice I am incorporating so I can teach her that she shouldn’t be afraid to speak up, regardless of who she's speaking with. If I am not raising a happy and whole daughter, to me, that will be the ultimate form of mommy guilt. Regret and not living the best life I can stops with me so my daughter Zion can fly.
Audre Lorde said it best in her 1984 book, Sister Outsider: “My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.”
We must speak up and live out loud, while speaking kindly and finding compassion for ourselves.