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I Took a Break From Mom Guilt for the Day—and This Is How I Did It

Photograph by Twenty20

I fell on my run the other day. It was a hard fall and I ended up in the emergency room. I tripped over my own feet on a clear road without a stone or stick in sight. I know why it happened, though. I fell because of mom guilt.

I was rushing, rushing to get done so I could get home to my kids because they had they day off and I felt guilty for going out on a 4-mile run that I so badly wanted to enjoy.

As I sat there, literally getting my face glued back together, I realized so much of my anxiety and stress and running around was driven by the big G-word. But look where it got me: in the emergency room for the day, away from my kids.

Even if I hadn't fallen, I know how the day would've turned out:

I would have worked a bit and felt guilty for not spending more time with them.

I would have asked them to shut it a few times so I could concentrate, then immediately felt guilty for doing so.

I would have taken them to the movies and let them have candy and soda and they wouldn't have been able to eat dinner because of their sugar-filled bellies and, again, the guilt would have washed over me.

And then, there I was, the day wasted because I was trying to rush through my run and every ounce of this mess had been driven by guilt. I was so done with it.

It's too bad I had to get my mom guilt knocked out of me by splatting on pavement, but that did it for me. I was sick of running on guilt all the damn time.

Mom guilt serves zero purpose. Zero.

I believe with all my being no one feels guilt like a mother does. We're damned if we give in to our kids and let them have a Happy Meal (because they've been begging us for a month now and we think, What's the harm?) and we're damned if we don't let them go to every friend's birthday party because we know we can't make it work with all the other duties that are pulling us.

Moms, we feel guilty no matter what we do, so we might as well stop this madness all together—which is what I can honestly say I've been working on since that moment in the ER.

I haven't perfected it yet, but the very next day, every time I felt like rushing around to accommodate everyone's needs because of guilt, or I talked myself out of lying down because I felt bad that someone might need me, I told myself guilt would tug at me no matter what I did and it was time to let it go.

Mom guilt serves zero purpose. Zero.

Just like anything else, stopping the guilty thoughts that creep in takes practice, but it does work. Now I ask myself, Am I doing what's best for me and my family, given the circumstances, without compromising anyone's health? and I leave it at that.

I remind myself that balance is key. I need to take my time with work and play in order to be the best mom I can be. I remember my kids aren't tiny robots who are going to do whatever I say. In order to raise decent human beings, I will sometimes have to punish them or say no. If I hurt their feelings, they will live.

Looking back to beat myself up about mistakes I've made is not allowed, but learning from them is.

You know what else isn't allowed? Rushing through something I enjoy so I can get back to my kids. Because, next time, I may not be so lucky as to only experience a few hours in the emergency room, and I think we can all agree mom guilt simply isn't worth it.

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