Have you ever heard of the term “mom guilt”? It’s essentially the concept of feeling like you can’t be an effective mom because of other obligations or factors. Mom guilt is present in the lives of most moms in some way, shape, or form, and I am not immune.
Many women with IBD struggle to conceive and carry babies, but I was lucky enough to be blessed with two children. However, before I was a mom, I was a nurse, and a wife, and I had Crohn’s Disease.
There are numerous things to think about each day, so many obligations and influences to contend with. Not only do I enjoy working as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, but financially, I also work to pay bills. Staying home with my babies was never something that was possible, and to be honest not really something that I wanted. I love my job; and although I love my kids too, I never felt able to walk away from my passion for healthcare. However, every time I see a fellow mom’s Facebook post about something fun or special, she did with her kids, the mom guilt returns.
I had two c-sections, I am not a good mom.
I couldn’t breast feed, I am not a good mom.
I went back to work after 6 weeks…
I used disposable diapers…
I let my kids drink juice…
I gave my kids candy…
I let my kids watch screens …a lot… the list goes on and on.
Before I had kids, I had unreasonable expectations of what being a mom was going to be like. I expected the pamphlet of the beautiful baby looking up lovingly at a well-rested and smiling mom, whose hair was perfect and makeup on point! Now, everyone with kids knows that’s not what real life is like.
In my situation, I have the added complication of Crohn’s Disease, a chronic medical condition, and as a byproduct, I also have a permanent ileostomy. One of the cardinal non-gastrointestinal symptoms of Crohn’s Disease is fatigue. It can be debilitating and affects me daily. I work a mix of 12- hour and 24-hour shifts at a local hospital in a newborn nursery.
Most days I make time for a nap, and that makes it possible for me to function normally. However, sometimes napping means sacrificing quality time with my family…cue mom guilt.
The hard thing about mom guilt is that it can sometimes be a cycle that’s hard to escape from. If I stress about taking a nap and don’t take one, then I can be tired and irritable, which creates family time that’s more stressful than enjoyable, then I don’t sleep well, which makes me more tired, and the cycle goes on and on.
On days when I am feeling particularly defeated, I try to take a few seconds just to breathe and exhale my negative thoughts. I focus on the positive aspect of my feelings- so instead of “I miss out on family time because I am working overtime,” I think “When I work overtime, I am able to afford a family vacation and create great memories with my husband and kids.”
When I became a mom, I experienced so many emotions, but if I can be honest, I didn’t expect this guilt. It took some time to adjust and reframe my way of thinking. And there are bad days when I don’t succeed. But I do know It’s possible to overcome this guilt, it just takes some time and grace.
Because you know what? I am a better mom when I nap.