Thought – Mommy Guilt 2.0
Category : Thought
I posted this thought a little over three years ago on my old blog site, and it got a great response. Moms everywhere understood what I was talking about, that inherent & ridiculous guilt they feel when faced with not being perfect, when weighed & found lacking by other mothers. As a stay-at-home dad, I had a unique opportunity to look at Mommy Guilt from a different perspective, and what I wrote still rings true. More dads are supporting their families from home, hopefully more moms are understanding their intrinsic value, and perhaps the guilt levels are lowering, but we can all keep in mind the idea that none of us are superhuman, that we all need breaks from our kids, that everyone makes mistakes. So here’s a look back at what I wrote; share it with the moms in your life if you think it might be a healthy reminder:
My wife posted a link to an article the other day, and it was very interesting. It was a blog post from one of the Mommy Blogs she reads; a blog about kids, pregnancy, motherhood, parenting, etc. The post was about Mommy Guilt, which I immediately understood. It’s something my wife feels for no reason at all other than because she’s a mother. It’s a feeling that she can’t shake, a mindset in which she thinks she can’t possibly do enough for me or for our kids; guilt over being by herself, guilt over not spending every second with her family, guilt over going to work, guilt over leaving the kids with a grandparent, guilt over getting upset, guilt over not focusing her attention on us every moment of every day. Basically, Mommy Guilt is feeling guilty for not being superhuman. And it’s not just women themselves who produce the guilt, it’s society and other moms as well. It’s a constant pressure to be perfect, to make a perfect choice every time, and to never get distracted, tired, or angry. Impossible to live up to and impossible to escape.
Now, as a stay-at-home dad, I think I have a unique perspective on this issue. Not once in my fatherhood have I felt Daddy Guilt. I know that I work extremely hard for my family and take care of them to the best of my ability. I love my kids, play with them, teach them, give them what they need, and help to keep them happy, healthy, and secure. Yes, sometimes I look at my iPhone. Sometimes I turn on a baseball game in the background. Sometimes I get mad, make a bad decision, say something I regret, don’t know an answer, or just want to be by myself. This doesn’t make me a poor father, it makes me human.
After reading that blog post and thinking about my wife’s own guilt, I began to wonder why I don’t feel guilty. Maybe the root of the problem is something sociological, something about men being taught that dominance and confidence are necessary traits, while women are taught subservience. But a more immediate answer is that no one tells me I should feel guilty, and therefor I don’t. I just can’t imagine anyone ever saying that I needed to pay more attention to my kids or that I didn’t deserve time alone. The only things I ever get are, “What a great dad!” or “Your kids are so lucky!”. Wouldn’t they be just as lucky if my wife got to stay home instead of me? Wouldn’t she be doing just as good a job? Wouldn’t she need a little break from the kids sometimes? Why am I a hero for doing what women do every day all over the world? The answer is that I’m not. I’m just a normal dad who happens to want to stay home with his kids. No one should make me feel guilty for not being perfect every day. But, you see, they don’t. And that’s the point.