Mom Guilt (Dad Guilt), we all have had it at one time or another. I know this because we can’t all be perfect, so sometimes we are going to mess up or disappoint our kids. Even the healthiest of moms (dads) is going to have some mom (dad) guilt over her (his) inadequacies. However, having a chronic illness like Fibromyalgia and being a mom (dad) comes with its own set of “mom (dad) guilt feelings”. I am going to tell you what I feel guilty about and what I do to feel better.
If you haven’t read this, let me tell you a little about me. I have three children ages 22, 17, and 9. I have been a mom since I was 21 years old (so pretty much my whole adult life). This is important to know because I feel I was a horrible mother at first. Like all of us, I had no idea what I was doing. I thought I was ready for my daughter, but I don’t think I was. To make matters worse, I was struggling on and off with depression and anxiety. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2014 and that is when motherhood got a little more complicated for me.
“I’m not a good enough Mom (Dad)”!
I often feel like I’m not good enough. This might be different for everyone, but I have a feeling many will relate to my list.
- Not being able to do activities that my child wants me to do. This is a hard one to deal with emotionally because mentally I know I want to be active with my son. There have been times when he wants to go somewhere and I just cannot do it or he wants to play a game that I’m too exhausted to play. These are the times I feel like “not enough”.
- Not spending enough one on one time with my kids. This guilt feeling is not only due to my Fibromyalgia, but the fact that I have been working full time and attending school part time for the last six years. If I wasn’t at work, I was at school or at the table doing homework. This has been hard on everyone in the family and a huge weight I bear. In fact, this one alone could be its own blog post (maybe later).
- Not serving healthy meals. There have been so many nights where I am just too tired to cook or even eat anything for myself. So, I will make something quick like Top Ramen noodles or a hot dog. This makes me feel guilty because there are no vegetables and it isn’t the healthiest. I made a mistake when raising my kids (I can admit it). I allowed them to be picky and never forced them to eat what they didn’t want to. So now my 9 year old pretty much hates all food that is good for him.
- I worry that genetically I will give my kids Fibromyalgia. I’ve already handed down my mental health issues and those are bad enough. There is an enormous amount of guilt that comes from watching your child suffer, whether it was knowingly your fault or not.
Now, you know why and how I feel guilty as a mom, let me tell you how to get over it or at least not let it eat you alive. This part is important because whether you are sick or not, you are going to make mistakes as a parent. The only thing you can do is own it, pick yourself up, and learn from it.
- Recognize what you are or are not doing that is causing you guilt. For me, an example of this would be not being able to do the things I want to do with my son.
- Ask yourself why it makes you feel guilty. I know I feel guilty because my son is disappointed and we are missing out on experiences.
- Ask yourself if there is anything you can do to fix it or make it better. I brainstorm ideas on things we can do instead or on a different (better health) day. If I can I bring this up to my son, only if my idea is something we can do right then. I have learned to not promise too much in the way of commitments. Really, if I can’t physically do something right now, why do I think I can do it later at an unknown date?
- If there is something you can do, then try to do it. If there isn’t (like genetics) then you have to let it go! I know easier said than done. One way I use to let go of things I cannot control is by meditating. While meditating I visualize what I need to let go of and when I breath out I let it go out with my breath.
- Forgive yourself. This is an important step in letting the guilt go. You are not going to be perfect, but guess what? Your kids are going to love you anyway. They may even begin to understand you as they get older.
I have learned so much from being a parent for 22 years. I have learned that although it is important to plan, one must be ready to improvise. Also, parenting is probably THE hardest job on the planet and it is one that you have to learn while on the job. The most important point to remember is to learn from your mistakes, grow from your mistakes, and love yourself no matter what.
If you are a person with a chronic illness and you are a parent, you deserve more slack. Whether anyone else is going to give it to you is unknown, however, you can give it to yourself. The challenges you face every day just to get through your day are commendable. Add being a parent to that day and let’s face it- you are a Rock Star! There is no reason why you cannot still learn, grow and love – you just might take a little longer or go a different route than others.
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