A Mother’s Guilt – What’s That?

This thing called ‘Mom Guilt’ is popular, globally, in the spheres of maternity, positive parenting, intentional motherhood and so on. However, in Nigeria, the name is new but not the feeling. Mom Guilt is a general occurrence among mothers. It can happen to any mom at any time and show itself in different “mom” situations. There’s a lot of pressure from families, older moms, other moms, the media and society at large, about what a mom is and what she is expected to do. It is particularly worse for us Nigerians because of what our moms have gone through and expect us, too, to go through despite the change in society and way of life.

Working moms seem like the ones hit the hardest as they have to leave their babies to resume work. They feel like they have abandoned their babies and/or are missing out on their baby’s milestones and activities. We all have heard the ‘breast is the best’ message hammered into us and this too can cause guilt; when a mom finds it hard to breastfeed her baby. Strangely, breastfeeding actually puts additional pressure on moms. They produce more sleepless nights, as the Mom is the only one who can feed her baby. Working moms, who pump, know how difficult and overwhelming this can be. Eventually, the baby may prefer the bottle than the Mom’s breast, resulting in more negative feelings.

We have observed that the most common (and definitely not limited to) sources of Mom Guilt in Nigeria are:

  • Feeding your baby formula, instead of breastfeeding
  • Not being able to ‘take care’ of your baby, your house, your husband and yourself simultaneously
  • Leaving your child with another caregiver
  • Not being able to cook assorted meals and bake
  • Feeding your kids junk food
  • Being environmentally ‘unfriendly’
  • Letting your kids play and get dirty
  • Not being able to afford all the ‘extras’
  • Not feeling like having sex with your spouse
  • Not doing a better job than your Mom

I believe you have other ‘Mom Guilt’ sources to add to the list above. We’d love to hear them in the comments section and ways you may have been able to deal with them.

Guilt is not inherently bad if it serves as a means of audit and feedback. It actually helps us to improve ourselves, but when it’s extended and deepened to a point of lowering self-esteem, it can result in postpartum depression. It starts with you feeling ashamed of yourself, calling yourself a ‘bad mom’ and then you start judging yourself and comparing your life to other moms online and offline. Then you start believing that you are not a good mom and you do not deserve your baby or family. This will then inform your behaviour as you become paranoid, irritated and aggressive; and in some cases, with uncontrollable mood swings.

You become over-protective; start overworking and overscheduling. You try to be perfect and might even spend too much time on social media, looking at the seemingly perfect mothers and their children and trying to be like them. You may become negatively addicted to the wrong people, platforms or substances and/or compulsive in your behaviour. It might not work in the exact sequence above and you might not have all the symptoms, but it is good to know all of them and try to break free from it before it gets worse.

Do you feel or have you experienced any of the above? Then comment below or send us a private message if you want to keep it confidential… nojudgement@whiteolive.org

Join us next week as we discuss – Postpartum Depression. Until then, keep this in mind, no Mom is perfect, we are all just trying to do the best for our children. Their love for you is guaranteed, as you’re their mom, so stay healthy and happy for them!

Finally, happy International Women’s Day in advance #BalanceForBetter

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