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Mommy Guilt Saved My Life
by Meaghan Johnson, Esq.
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December 30, 2019

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8 Minute Read

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Mommy Guilt Saved My Life

Courtesy of Meaghan Johnson, Esq.

I had always imagined that once baby came, I was going to turn into this superhero mommy. But that didn’t happen. It took less than 24 hours of being a mother for me to be introduced to this thing called mommy guilt. It was a terrifying and unknown territory for me. I had heard other moms talk about it, but I had no idea how difficult the experience is. I couldn’t find my way out. When I thought I had gotten a hold of it, something would happen and those feelings would come rushing right back in. I got pregnant for the second time 11 months after the first. Then, after my second son was born, my first born started having seizures. The mommy guilt hit an all-time high. I couldn’t care for my newborn because my first child needed so much attention. I felt so out of control and alone. I wasn’t able to articulate to my husband what was going on because I was unsure. I didn’t have the language. I didn’t have the emotional intelligence to talk to him. I felt stuck.

I felt so out of control and alone.

It seemed like everything that happened to me raised a feeling of guilt. I experienced postpartum depression, I felt guilty for being sad. I was bedridden after giving birth, I felt guilty that my mom had to step into my shoes. Everyone around me and on social media seemed so happy to be a new mom. I didn’t have the same feeling and felt guilty about that. Being a mom didn’t come naturally to me, that made me feel guilty. I felt my baby boys deserved so much more than what I could offer, which made me feel guilty. It got so extreme that I started feeling guilty for feeling guilty. It was a dangerous cycle. The painful feelings were just stacked up on top of each other. I was in a never-ending maze of negative emotions and was struggling to find my way out. 

Related: Tika Sumpter on Marriage and Motherhood

Courtesy of Meaghan Johnson, Esq.

Once I began to do some inner work – praying, meditating, questioning what was the deeper feeling behind this guilt, and more – I quickly came to realize that all of the mommy guilt I was experiencing was caused by me. I had certain expectations and beliefs of what I thought a mommy is supposed to be, do, and feel. And if I felt any other way, I was failing. I was falling below an expectation I created myself. The space between expectations and not meeting them is where suffering lives. My flavor of suffering was mommy guilt. Mommy guilt is just a euphemism for self-punishment. I believed I needed to be punished because I wasn’t the mom I felt I should have been. I knew these feelings were not benefiting me. They were not for my well being. I knew that something had to be done. My life depended on it.

Mommy guilt is just a euphemism for self-punishment.

It was time to evaluate my life. I began to educate myself on me. I quickly learned that I wasn’t living life but life was living me. I decided that I needed to grab the reins and become proactive rather than reactive. To end my suffering, all I needed to do was change my expectations and take action. I chose to completely strip my expectations. I changed my perception and stopped being so hard on myself. I learned empathy for me. I changed the way I viewed what a mommy is supposed to be. I started praying more, meditating more, and learning coping skills when I would start to feel down. I decided that it was time to discover the new me, the Meaghan that was still Meaghan, but now also mom. I have and am currently learning her. I’m learning every day. I’m learning what she needs to be fulfilled both professionally and personally. 

To end my suffering, all I needed to do was change my expectations and take action.

Courtesy of Meaghan Johnson, Esq.

Writer Napoleon Hill once said, “Every adversity brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage.” The greatest lesson I learned from this experience is that what we interpret as “negative” emotions are not negative at all. They are calls to action. Mommy guilt doesn’t have to be looked at as something bad or negative. I now know that my experience of mommy guilt was God’s way of whispering (or yelling in my case) that it is time to make a change. I needed that pull to get me moving, to get me asking questions. 

Related: How to Cope With Mom Guilt

Humans are motivated to take action to either avoid pain or gain pleasure. My mommy guilt brought so much pain I didn’t have a choice but to make a change. Thank God for it, because it has made me the woman I am today. My mommy guilt propelled me to grow, to learn. It is the reason I am pursuing my calling today. It is the reason I am so confident. It is the reason I love myself unconditionally. It is the reason why I feel more fulfilled today than I have ever in my entire life. 

My experience of mommy guilt was God’s way of whispering (or yelling in my case) that it is time to make a change.

I have chosen to change the term “negative” emotions to “uncomfortable” emotions. They are in my life to propel me forward, to push me to make a change. When I experience an uncomfortable emotion, whether it’s anger, regret, guilt, impatience, or annoyance, I do not live in it. It’s not there to place blame or fault on someone. It is there to teach me where I need to grow and where I need healing. It is there for a greater purpose. I use those feelings as a compass to guide and help me grow back to the person I really am.

Related: How My Relationship Changed When I Discovered My Happiness is Not Attached to My Husband

And so I thank the discomfort of mommy guilt.  In the end, it was a beautiful gift that changed my life.   

 

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