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How to Cope With Mom Guilt
by Rasheda Jackson
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May 6, 2019

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How to Cope With Mom Guilt

She was near ruined by the “mom guilt” she felt when her second child was born. But Rasheda Jackson found her way out of it, and with these five strategies to cope with mom guilt, you can, too.

Courtesy of Rasheda Jackson
Rasheda Jackson, her husband Rich, and their sons Richie and Quincy.

On April 21, 2015, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. He was everything I ever dreamed he would be. And becoming a mother was everything I ever dreamed it would be. I spent countless hours doing skin-to-skin with him, gazing into his beautiful brown eyes, holding him, nursing him, singing him lullabies, brushing his hair, bathing him, and taking him for long strolls. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture – we spent a wonderful amount of uninterrupted, quality time together, and it was magical.

Fast forward to the present. I am now the mother of two little boys. I gave birth to another beautiful baby boy on December 1, 2017. He is also everything I ever dreamed he would be. But have I spent countless hours doing skin-to-skin with him, gazing into his beautiful brown eyes, holding him, nursing him, singing him lullabies, brushing his hair, bathing him, and taking him for long strolls? The answer is sadly, “No.”

I would love to be able to spend as much time with my new baby as I did with my first, but I can’t — I have another little guy that is also depending on me. And I feel guilty about it.

Courtesy of Rasheda Jackson
Rasheda Jackson and her 3-year-old son, Richie.

I am a wife to the love of my life, my husband Rich, and I am a work-at-home mom (I don’t use the term stay-at-home mom because it fails to include what I do – work). Richie is our 3-year-old son and Quincy is our 9-month-old son. They are both loveable and feisty boys, and they keep us on our toes. And they require a lot of supervised time although for very different reasons. Richie is at an age where he needs to be kept busy or he will find things to do which sometimes are not desirable.

For example, the other day while I was pumping breast milk for my baby, he decided to increase the setting on the breast pump and I had to quickly try and stop him from turning it all the way up, while at the same time trying not to spill my milk. It was truly a sight. Quincy, on the other hand, has recently become mobile. So now when I put him to sit down on his play mat, before I can even turn around, he takes off scooting to the coffee table and tries to pull things down.

Courtesy of Rasheda Jackson
Rasheda Jackson’s sons, Quincy and Richie.

Life with these two little guys can get pretty exciting, and I love it, but sometimes feelings of guilt take hold of me and that’s no fun at all.

These feelings surfaced early on in my last pregnancy. For the first time, I had to think about the safety and well-being of not just one child, but two children. Also, I was put on modified bed rest toward the end of my pregnancy, which meant I could no longer pick up my toddler, play hide and seek with him or take him to the park. This was our norm, and because I couldn’t be there for him like I always was there, there were times when I felt like a horrible mother.

There were times when I felt like a horrible mother.

In my mind, I was neglecting the needs and happiness of my son even though it wasn’t intentional.  And there was no way I could really explain to a 2-year-old why Mommy could no longer pick him up even when he was crying.

It was hard. However, nothing could have prepared me for the guilt I would feel after I gave birth to my second son. One night, while the baby and I were still in the hospital, my husband and I decided it was better for Richie to sleep at home in his own bed instead of at the hospital. But when it was time for my husband to take my son home, I could not hold back the tears. I was overcome with sadness. I balled my eyes out for two hours after they left. I was absolutely in love with my sweet, new baby and enjoyed every moment nursing him, doing skin-to-skin, and cuddling with him, but I just felt so torn – so guilty.

I just felt so torn – so guilty.

After we brought Quincy home from the hospital, I made a promise to myself that I would not let guilt get the best of me and steal my joy. And with a lot of strategy and determination, I have made great progress in dealing with these feelings.

The following are my Top 5 Strategies to Cope With Mom Guilt. I pass them on with hope that they may be of service to you, too:

Top 5 Strategies to Cope With Mom Guilt

Courtesy of Rasheda Jackson
Rasheda Jackson and her youngest son, Quincy.

1. Remember that you’re not alone.

I know that sounds cliché but it really is true, and once you acknowledge this, I think it can make things a lot easier. There are so many moms who question themselves and experience mom guilt. The guilt is different for each person, but for many moms it can feel quite overwhelming. But it helps to keep in mind that somehow they are able to find ways to cope with these feelings and still thrive as mothers, and you can too. I tell myself this everyday. We can and should draw from the strength of other mothers. We’re in this together.

2. Talk to other moms.

This strategy has been very helpful for me in my motherhood journey, especially when dealing with guilt. And the first person I relied on for advice with this was my own mom. After all, she raised four of us, so I thought she must have felt guilt at some point. Guess what? She did. She shared with me that she felt very guilty at times. Her feelings of guilt were a bit different from mine, but she was still able to impart some tips that helped her. I’ve also talked with my sister and my mom friends. They too had similar feelings and gave me tips on how to deal with my feelings of guilt. Opening up to other moms has been really helpful.

Courtesy of Rasheda Jackson
Rasheda Jackson’s sons, Quincy and Richie.

3. Write down your feelings.

It has been incredibly beneficial for me to keep a journal of my thoughts and feelings. And what’s so great about journaling is that it is absolutely free of judgment. It’s private, and therefore I can be truly honest about every guilty feeling I have. Writing for me has been very valuable.

4. Share your feelings with your spouse or partner.

I was quite surprised when I decided to share how I was feeling with my husband and he told me that he also experienced feelings of guilt. To be honest, I really didn’t consider that he was going through something similar. He told me that it really hurts some days when he has to leave the boys and go to work. Because I was open with my husband about my feelings of guilt, we are now able to work together and help one another through this.

5. Schedule “me time.”

To be honest, I am terrible at scheduling time for myself, but I kill it when it comes to my sons’ schedules and making time for their every need and want. When it comes to making time for myself, I fall short. The first time I had a little “me time,” I felt guilty! But it’s gotten better. I have grown to understand that in order for my boys to be happy and healthy, I need to be happy and healthy and that means I need to take care of myself. So now I schedule time for “me. It doesn’t have to be a day at the spa. It could be as simple as a short walk or a coffee date with a friend. Even a small amount of “me time” counts because I’ve noticed that when I come home I feel refreshed and have more energy. And, over time, the feelings of guilt about “me time” have eased.

I have learned to accept that these feelings of guilt are not going anywhere. But I have also learned that I do have power over these feelings and I can choose how they affect me and my children.

That I do have power over these feelings and I can choose how they affect me and my children.

Courtesy of Rasheda Jackson
Rasheda Jackson, her husband Rich, and their sons Richie and Quincy.

And so I follow my heart. When I am longing for that new baby smell and I need to snuggle with Quincy, I give Richie an independent activity and I go pick up my baby and bask in his sweetness. And when I want to play a game of tickles with my toddler and hear his infectious laughter, I put the baby down for a moment and have fun with my big boy. Mom guilt is not easy to cope with, but the very best strategy I have found is to remind myself how lucky I am because, despite the guilt, I get to be their mom.

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