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Why do we all feel so guilty?

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Motherhood.  It’s always incredibly intense, with more than a few tears, lots of laughter, and even a little yelling sometimes. It’s completely exhausting, both emotionally and physically, but so, so worth every ounce of pain and discomfort.

And to me, one of the neatest things is just how incredibly different we all are. While the tie that binds us is the desire to raise lovely children the way that looks in practice is totally different for each person. And yet, the more we go on, the less those differences matter.

Some are focused on being the working mom who loves having a career but feels frustrated by her lack of choices and flexibility. She believes, in her heart of hearts, that loving your work doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids.

Another wants to be the mom who feels completely fulfilled in her role as a mom, but struggles to admit that to other women because she is afraid of being judged. She doesn’t want to have to apologize for being a stay-at-home mom—and loving it.

The third is the mom who is home with her kids but not quite so fulfilled. She’s struggling to juggle too many balls, and she feels exhausted and overwhelmed. She feels like a failure, and she’s afraid of anyone finding out what a mess she really is.

Yet another is the working mom who on the surface looks like she has it all together, but feels like she can’t relax. At work she feels capable, but at home she sometimes feels lost. She’s stressed out all the time and feels guilty because she doesn’t always have control over her emotions.

I can actually relate a little bit to each one of these, and yet the thing that really struck me about all of this was the fact that as moms—no matter what type of mom we might happen to be—we all struggle with feeling guilty about our choices. We struggle with the feeling that we’re doing it wrong. We struggle with the worry that other people—and especially other moms—are judging us. We struggle being honest, both with ourselves and others, about what we really want out of life.

It’s so messed up!

So tell me moms, why do we feel so guilty?

Why are we beating ourselves up and telling ourselves we’re doing it wrong? Why do we worry so much about what other moms will think or say, when the truth is that they’re just as worried about what we will think or say? Why can’t we just give ourselves permission to be the mom we are, not the mom we think someone else expects us to be?

J. Churchill once said, “there’s no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.” Along those same lines, someone else wryly noted that “behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she’s screwing them up.”

In other words? It’s time to stop apologizing for not being the mom you think you’re supposed to be, and to start embracing the mom you are.

There is no such thing as the perfect mom, and I’m pretty sure that the surest indicator that you are doing something right as a mom is being worried that you’re not. At the end of the day, your kids need you to love them unconditionally, to provide for their basic needs, and to help them become good grown-ups. But that path will look a little bit different for every family.

And so, my challenge for you this week is to give up the guilt. Just because your path looks a little different than the other moms you know doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. Embrace the choices you have made, without feeling like you have to apologize for them. Dare to create the life that works for you.

(And if you’re not a mom? The same advice still applies!)

Your guilt over what you’re not isn’t serving anyone—especially you.

It’s time to let that shit go.

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