You’re lying in bed, your spouse already passed out and contentedly snoring. You WANT to sleep; you know you NEED to sleep. You’ve even calculated how many hours of rest you could get if you fell into slumber right now. Or right now. Or NOW. But you can’t lose consciousness no matter how hard you try because something keeps you from clearing your head: the mom guilt.
It’s the kind of guilt that’s relentless, creeping up slowly, then raging like a wildfire. Your brain recalls every mistake, every missed opportunity, and every raised voice, testifying that you are a “bad mom”. Whether it happened that day or years ago, your inadequacies haunt you in the late night hours.
It happens to us all; no mother is exempt from the mom guilt. We know that, and yet we still convince ourselves we are alone. We forget that the woman across the hall, on the other side of our walls, down the street—she is probably lying awake too, agonizing and torturing herself over every detail left undone.
So how can we stop this hurtling guilt train? How can we release ourselves, even for a moment, from the pain so we can sleep?
Find one thing you did today that you’re proud of, then hold on to it’s memory with a vice grip.
Today, while reading to my kids, I chose to do it all. I didn’t skip sentences or pages (you’ve done that too, right?). I didn’t speed read or deny their interrupting questions. I let them choose the long book and we read it, end to end. I even stopped to teach what a “. . .” meant to the reader. If nothing else, and for all my mistakes, at least I did that one thing right today.
Find YOUR one thing you did today you’re proud of, and choose to focus on it. Don’t give the mom guilt any more power.
It won’t be easy. You’ll naturally begin to wander back into the excuses and worries: “I could’ve read longer.” Or, “right after, I got impatient again.” Don’t let yourself do this! Force yourself to remember that glimmer of pride you had in your parenting-win. Recall the joy of the moment, however big or small, and relive it over and over.
Soon, sleep will come to your calmer body. Soon, you’ll drift off in a more positive mindset. And I promise, each day you practice this, the easier it will be. And if there are times where you can’t think of a single win from that day, promise yourself to find something tomorrow. Then bring forth a memory from another day.
You ARE the type of mom to be proud of.
You HAVE done things worthy of that pride.
You will NOT give in to comparisons and guilt.
You CAN do this.
Sleep well, Mommas.