I used to scoff at other moms who said they felt guilty whenever they left their child to do something else, whether it be to work, to travel, or even to go shopping alone.
I couldn’t understand why they would feel that way, but I knew I would never be like that.
What I didn’t know, however, was that my Mom guilt would manifest itself in other ways.
Scenario #1: My son screaming one foot away from me because he wants a handful of blueberries on his tray rather than a couple.
Scenario #2: My daughter screaming at nap-time/bedtime because of who knows why.
Both of these scenarios were sure-fire ways for my heart-palpitating anxiety to rear its ugly head. Both of these scenarios made me want to punch my kid(s) or die myself. Both of these scenarios also made me hate being a mom and being at home; I just wished I could either turn back time or run away forever.
From the very beginning, my husband would tell me to just put earplugs in to decrease the loudness of the screaming and/or crying. I joked about putting on headphones and blasting music to drown out the unbearable noise, but I could never bring myself to do either of these things…
…until I spoke to my therapist.
She, also a mother of 2, told me that many mothers think they need to be 100% in the moment at every moment with their child, whether it is good or bad. There is something innate in mothers that causes them to react and feel with their entire being in relation to their child, but it doesn’t mean they need to be 100% in it if they don’t need to be.
I can’t remember if my therapist suggested putting on headphones and playing music or if I asked if that would be appropriate, but the conclusion was that I should do it whenever the twins’ screaming was becoming unbearable. She explained that the moment would eventually pass, and I needed to do something to help me get through it rather than getting so worked up by being submerged in it.
As I processed why I was hesitant to use earplugs or headphones before, I discovered that the feeling that was preventing me from doing either of the aforementioned was the dreaded thing I swore I would never feel – Mom guilt.
I felt guilty for feeling what I thought at the time was anger whenever either of the twins screamed.
I felt guilty for hating them in those moments, especially since everyone I knew adored their children and couldn’t imagine not loving them.
I felt guilty for wishing I didn’t have children when I have friends who have been trying to have them for quite some time.
I felt guilty for wanting to escape from this torturous life when everyone felt so blessed to have children.
I felt guilty for wanting to block them out with earplugs or headphones, and I felt ashamed that I wasn’t able to calmly deal with them in the midst of their screaming bouts.
All of this guilt already made me feel like a bad mom, and I subconsciously felt that if I used earplugs or headphones, I would just be altogether a terrible mother for not being okay in the unbearable moments.
My therapist shared something with me that allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief. She said,
“It is okay, possible, and normal to feel more than one feeling at a time.”
I can love my children and hate them at the same time. I can be overjoyed with them and annoyed at them at the same time. I can feel numerous positive and negative feelings toward them all at the same time. This was news to me.
I’m not sure why, but I thought that if I was having feelings of anger toward the twins (which I now know were actually anxiety attacks), it meant I didn’t love them. The negative feelings were so intense that it didn’t seem possible there could be any room for love.
However, I realized that I do love the twins (shocker), and that my love for them doesn’t transform into hate in difficult moments. There are just some temporary negative feelings on top of the underlying love I have for them.
Becoming aware of all of this has helped me SO much. I’m able to feel freely, I’m able to pop on headphones to get through difficult moments, and I’m able to walk away from any screaming for some time to regain my composure. Most importantly, I’m able to do it all without any Mom guilt. I’m still working on the anxiety thing, but at least the Mom guilt is done and over with, at least for now.
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