Motherhood, Guilt, and Imperfection

Recently, I had a small stress spiral.

I started to say I had a meltdown or panic attack or something equally dramatic, but, for one, I don’t want to make light of actual panic attacks and two, it wasn’t nearly so overt or overblown.

What happened was, I came to the sudden and almost paralyzing realization that I have a lot on my plate.


This probably should not have been as shocking as it was. I’ve got a husband, an almost-seven-month-old, three secular jobs, an apartment to take care of, spiritual responsibilities, friendships to maintain…it’s a lot. But, listen, we’ve all got our ways of dealing with stress. And if mine includes a healthy dose of denial, that’s my business.

And it probably didn’t help that I was coming off a week of vacation and a 24-hour flu, both of which rendered me exhausted and had set me back in terms of what I was able to accomplish on my to-do list. The point is, it all hit me hard and I ended up staying up until 2 a.m. one night catching up.

Because that’s how your brain works when you’re stressed: You’re so worried about being exhausted that you stay up late and get five hours of sleep. Perfect plan.

You’ll be pleased to know (unless you’re, I don’t know, a sadist) that I ultimately got it together. Everything on the list got done. And while I’m still feeling the effects of sleep deprivation a bit (you never really catch up, do you?), I’m a little less panicked about everything I’ve got going on.

It’s just…well, it’s hard being a work-at-home mom. There are days when, even though everything is getting crossed off, you’re just not doing anything all that well. There are days when writing deadlines get pushed back because I had to reschedule source interviews because Vivi didn’t take a nap as planned. There are days I find myself responding to emails one-handed while I play blocks with Viv with the other.

I would love to tell you I spend every single breastfeeding session staring lovingly into my daughter’s eyes, but, honestly, sometimes I’m posting a new photo on a brand’s Instagram account.

And sometimes I feel guilty about that. And others, I feel totally okay with it because it’s these jobs that mean I am home breastfeeding my daughter instead of pumping in an office somewhere so I can leave milk with the daycare attendants. Because I’m sure I would feel a whole other kind of guilt if that were the case.

Because the fact is, motherhood almost invariably means guilt about something.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the guilt and the responsibilities ever since my semi-all-nighter, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

I’m probably always going to feel bad about something. Even if I wasn’t working at all, I would most likely not always be 100 percent on as a mom. I would have tired days where I would be a lazy mom. I would have irritable days where I would be an impatient mom. I would have drained days where I would be a boring mom. But I think as long as I’m still being Vivi’s mom, I can make my peace with my imperfections.

And I have to remind myself that these are not new or unique feelings — every mom feels this way at some point about something. So…maybe I can just let it go. I can just keep doing, rather than let myself get caught up in the thinking.

Because I’m doing this. I’m being Vivi’s mom, and I’m working and taking care of my home and maintaining my relationships. If I’m doing it perfectly or not, I don’t know. (Probably not because, ya know, I’m not perfect. I know, I’m really sorry to shatter that charade.) But I don’t think perfection matters in this case. I’m doing my best, and my daughter is happy and healthy.

And that sounds pretty perfect to me.


4 thoughts on “Motherhood, Guilt, and Imperfection

  1. Oh, the Mom guilt. That stuff never quits. There’s a quote that often circulates about how worrying about being a good mom means that you are one. I like that quote. There are days when my toddler is bent on destruction and I get frustrated. There’s days that I don’t read enough books with him. There’s been a lot of days that he’s watched multiple Mickey or Daniel episodes. Discipline is a little looser these days and not for the betterment of my kid. I try to give myself a lot of grace. It’s hard raising a kid. It’s hard raising a kid and gestating another. I know it’ll be hard to raise two kids.

    I think that’s why so many people like to watch their kids sleep. They look so fresh and young and full of promise. It’s easier to rub their backs then and tell them you’ll be a better mom tomorrow. Give yourself some grace because you’re doing a great job.

    • Thank you for this comment! I really like that quote now, too. And thank you for the kind words — I think we all need to hear that on a regular basis. For the record, you are doing a great job, too! And you’re going to be a great mom of two as well 🙂

  2. Thanks for this post, as a long time lurker on your blog, and soon-to-be first time mum come August, I think this will be a helpful post to come back to when my perfectionist demons hit hard! Thanks for sharing, I always enjoy your writing. Katie

    • Aw thanks so much for being a reader! And congratulations on your little one — so, so exciting!

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