Laughing off mama guilt. Can it be done?
I have a hard time laughing at my parenting fails, but sometimes a friend might laugh for me. After I shared a parenting fail with a friend, she laughed at me.
But that moment encouraged me in my parenting path because I knew that my heart was safe with her and I knew that she would agree that it really was a parenting failure.
My friend’s laugh wasn’t a laugh of mockery. What I heard in her laugh, and what I learned afterward, was that I surprised her with my parenting approach.
Her laugh said, “Relax, you made a mistake. Oh well! Your ineffective parenting strategy was not a sign that you should self-condemn, heaping tons of mama guilt onto yourself.”
Being honest in moments of parental indiscretion keeps me humble and keeps me from judging other parents, because I know I’m in no special league. I won’t write the authoritative parenting book. I might be Mother Teresa, but I’ll never live up to the perception of that icon.
So when a different mama shares her guilty feelings that she’s not measuring up (a gentle mom who stops to chat with her child whenever her child enters the room, answers questions with patience, doesn’t seem to get annoyed by the noise of children playing loudly, suggests she’s probably not spending enough time playing games with her kids), I quickly tell her not to buy into the mama guilt.
Yes, we all have reasons to feel mama guilt.
Sometimes we feel guilt because it is earned. Sometimes we feel guilt because we are attempting unrealistic expectations (and also, not surprisingly, not meeting them). Sometimes it’s a mix of both. But mama guilt will do nothing to propel us to learn what we need to learn to be the mamas we need to be.