CityMom Alicia let us in this summer – she had built a wall after her son’s autism diagnosis, but she let us in as she grappled with what this meant for her family. And she returns this month to confess something ALL moms face at some point during motherhood: Guilt. The mom guilt is real. It eats at us. Are we doing enough? Are our kids happy? Are we happy? Should we be happy? What are we doing wrong? Alicia – talking through it is just one step and we’re proud to be your outlet. To all other mommas: Head up, chin up girl. We’re here to support ya too. Read on…
Mom guilt is a hell of a feeling, isn’t it? The feelings of sometimes putting yourself first or feeling as though you aren’t doing enough are the nightmares that keep us mommas awake at night. I know I’ve spent many a night laying around, beating myself up on what I could be doing better.
Mom guilt has become an even worse anxiety for me since I chose to pursue my career. Several times a week, I travel to a university where I pretend to have it all together by working as a graduate assistant and as a PhD student. I knew from a young age that I wanted to pursue a higher education. Those goals didn’t change when I had my son. In fact, that desire grew as I knew I might lose the opportunity to pursue my dreams to the trenches/expectations of motherhood. I held steadfast to my goals and somehow made it into my masters program when my son was just a year old.
This semester, I started my PhD program and have also been witnessing my son gain independence through his new ABA program. I’m not exaggerating when I say that having to let others care for my son has stressed me to the point of illness. IBS is also a hell of a feeling and mine is onset with stress.
I finally reached my breaking point in my graduate advisor’s office one morning after class.
My advisor was a fellow mom – actually one of the three others in my department that have children under the age of 18. I just looked at her and said “How do you do it all and handle it so beautifully?” She literally laughed in my face and said “I definitely drink a lot of wine.” We spent a long time talking about motherhood in the workplace. How it can be scary, pressuring, and sometimes just embarrassing. She helped me to realize that my colleagues have a lot more understanding that what I give them credit for.
Since that meeting, I have been trying very hard to not beat myself up for things. Sure, my son didn’t dress up for all the days of spirit week. I usually do not have home cooked meals on the table. But when I look at the work I’m doing, I can hold my head up high. This work is for the benefit my child. Whether you are in the trenches of stay-at-home motherhood, working motherhood or even student motherhood, you are doing good work. If we focus on our “I can or I did” instead of “I can’ts or I didn’t” maybe that mom guilt wouldn’t be so bad.
Sure mom guilt is a hell of a feeling… but so is empowerment.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Alicia Hazelwood is pretty sure she will never actually graduate from school. She is currently pursing her Ph.D. in educational psychology with a focus in online learning.
When she’s not knee-deep in research, Alicia serves in her favorite role as mommy to her four year old son.
She enjoys crafting, Costco and chasing a good coupon deal. She uses cycling and running to compensate for her love of eating too many tacos.