Mama Guilt is Real

Today is the first official day of summer for my kindergartener, which means she brought home an entire year's worth of papers from her school for us to enjoy sorting through together. And of those papers, one especially broke my heart: 

It was a paper picture frame that she had made for her special Mother's Day Spa day at her school, where her kindergarten class enjoyed a full day of pampering the mothers in their lives with nails and hair and beauty treatments, then hit the makeshift photo booth for a photo session to capture all the fun forever. The only problem? 

My daughter's frame was heartbreakingly empty. Because I had missed it. 

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Image via Flickr/ Angela

Due to a work trip that I couldn't miss, my sister had taken my place as “Mom” for the Mother's Day Spa, and looking at that empty frame I just felt like my entire heart was empty. Do you ever feel like you try so hard as a mom and yet all of your hard work can get completely washed away in the blink of an eye?

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I live in constant fear that somehow my children won't remember the days I've spent caring for them when they are sick, or the breakfasts I've made them, or the parties I threw them, or the Disney-trip-of-a-lifetime I took them on. I worry that somehow, through the haze of childhood memories, the one that will remain firmly lodged in their brains is the time I wasn't there. It may be 1 out of 100, but still, it's so easy to remember what our parents didn't do for us, instead of what they did do, isn't it? (Let's be honest, we've all done it, even as adult children!)

The truth is, it's impossible to avoid mama guilt in our lives. And I've felt that mama guilt so many times. I've felt until it feels like it will eat me up and I wonder if I'm doing anything right at all. I've felt like I'm failing my children miserably and that when they will grow up they'll need therapy. And before you know it, I'm crying a little bit because I feel like such a failure. 

We all have our moments, and mama guilt is indeed real, but we also need to be gentle with ourselves. We need to give ourselves the grace that we grant others in our lives. We wouldn't judge our partners so harshly, or our friends, or even our children when they grow up, so why should we judge ourselves with such a demanding rulebook?

We can only do our best, smile at the moments where we did good, and if we happen to see an empty picture frame where we wish there was a happy memory, well then maybe it's just time to make a new memory to fill that space in our hearts. 

What's your biggest mama guilt struggle? 

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Mama Guilt is Real

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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