Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mom Guilt: Share Your Stories

Yesterday my nine year old niece, Francesca, (or as Ari calls her "Ches-ca") came over for a play date. Ari and Ches-ca were painting, Wil and my mom were watching them create their collaborative work of art, and I was cooking chili in the kitchen. All of a sudden Wil called across the apartment:

"Sarah, what did Ari eat today?"
"Why?" I asked suspiciously.
"Because he's throwing up." He replied.

I dropped the knife I was using to cut an onion and bolted from the kitchen to the living room. When I got there, Ari had thrown up more than a college frat boy.

"How did he get sick again?" Wil asked. Ari just got over having Croup, and now he appears to be sick again.

He woke up with a fever in the middle of the night last night and vomited for the second time. I've concluded he has a virus. But Wil's question stayed in my head: "How did he get sick again?"

My internal answer is to blame myself. He wasn't dressed well enough for this 27 degree weather, he needs warmer pants, long underwear, He's not eating enough, he's not eating well, I'm taking him to germ infested places like the library and communal play spaces.

Whatever the case may be, it is most certainly my fault that he's sick. This is what I like to call mom guilt. I'd like to think I come by it honestly with my Jewish heritage, but I think mom guilt transcends cultural boundaries.

As mothers, if something "goes wrong" with our kids, we blame ourselves. Who else do we have to blame?

What I want to know is, what do you feel guilty about? Post a comment with a story where you felt particularly guilty. By the way, guilt is not exclusive to moms, dad guilt is alive and well. Dads: please share your stories too!


  1. When my oldest was a toddler and my husband left for the Army, I wasn't sleeping well at all. Maybe 3 hours a night. So some mornings I just had to put him in the playpen, put on Elmo and sleep an extra hour. I am afraid this made him so into the TV today but I don't know. He never watched much before then. But it is what it is.

  2. I can so relate to that Julie! As a tired pregnant woman, I have used and over-used the TV. Sometimes you just need a break!

  3. I drank diet coke whilst pregnant. Not daily but enough to make me feel guilty. Maybe that is why he has peanut allergy

  4. Sara- I doubt it! Our bodies crave what we crave when pregnant. I officially relieve you of Diet Coke guilt!

  5. Since I'm not yet a mommy I have yet to experience the mom guilt. But as someone who grew up with an Asian mother I'm sure it'll catch up to me eventually.

    Here's what my mom continues to feel guilty about to this day (subsequently loading me down with feelings of inadequacy)
    - I'm not married yet and don't have kids
    - I don't speak Japanese
    - I've never learned how to clean
    - I've never learned how to cook Japanese food
    - and I eat too much

    Don't worry, I think you're a great mommy!

  6. LOL! I literally chuckled to myself when I read that you eat too much.

    You SO know how to clean!

  7. I can't even count all the things that make me feel guilty. The list is topped off with my guilt for always being tired. I don't have the energy to keep up with Grace most days and I worry that it is starting to get her down. Right now, we have 7.5 inches of snow on the ground perfect for snowmen and Grace is craving to dive in. I just can't handle that yet. Not unless I find some adult sized snow pants anyway :)
    By the way, do not beat yourself up for Ari getting sick. As long as it isn't serious, you are only building him up. Let him get sick now and build the antibodies so that he doesn't end up missing a few days of school every month during cold/flu season. You are simply providing him the tools to become a happy, healthy, growing boy!

  8. The question is, what DON'T I feel guilty about??? TV is a big one, since Lilah's not even 18 months yet and is already going "teedee, teedee" and pointing to the screen. She goes NUTS with excitement when we finally turn it on! And then there's food, my time, my energy... you name it.

    But don't worry about the tummy virus - that's going around right now. Almost all the kids I work with have had it, and Lilah brought it home last week. He's going to be exposed to this sort of stuff ALL the time when he goes to preschool or school, and that won't be your fault either!

  9. I have plenty of things to feel guilty about but none of them are things like this. I do much worse. Give yourself a break. It's not your fault. Little people get sick. Hope he gets better soon!

  10. I had PPD but didn't realize it for the first year of my daughter's life and I didn't bond with her as well as I could have. That's a huge one for me. Guilt guilt guilt. I know there is nothing I could do but it just won't go away. I just try to make up for it as best I can.

  11. Aw. Dressing him warmly has NOTHING to do with getting that sick. Poor dude. Poor you.

    So far, I have a terrible tendency of going places with Theo and not bringing a thing (no diapers, no food, no milk, no cookies!) It's so silly. I always think, well he just ate and I just changed him so we'll be fine for a couple of hours. Ineveitably, we're, eh hem, NOT fine and I wind up mouching off someone or racing home with a screaming toddler.


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