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Why Mothers Should Stop Feeling Guilty

By October 02, 2016 , ,

Whether you're a first time mom or a seasoned one, a working mom or a stay-at-home mom, it is something that haunts you wherever you go. It happens when you’re staying back late at work, when you are out longer than expected with your girlfriends, or when you take time out to do something for yourself. Oh yeah, you know what I’m talking about – that constant need to be the ideal mother, the perfect parent who selflessly dedicates all their time to their child. It’s a condition I call the mother’s guilty complex. Please be warned that you may experience the following symptoms: lingering self-doubt, bouts of emotional rather than rational decision-making, feelings of maternal inadequacy, and moments of guilt when having fun without the presence of your child. This condition comes in different forms and afflicts mothers of all ages and sizes.

I may be making a grand generalization but you get the drift. Perhaps this guilty complex is an evolutionary mechanism of maintaining long term maternal instincts or perhaps an artifact of society’s unrealistic expectations of mothers…whatever it is, it’s not going away unless we as mothers learn to deal with our internal conflict and emotions better when it comes to our children.

As a working mom, I often have to travel for work, which takes me away from my family. But I love my job and didn’t want to give it up. Early on, I decided that I could choose to either punish myself and feel bad for working and traveling, or I could take on this “working mom” role without the emotional baggage. I chose the latter. Of course, I have my moments of weakness where I feel I’m not able to give oodles of time to my son. But I do believe that I can be a good mother without constantly being by his side. In fact, I’m of the opinion that he’s better for it. Because it teaches him to be independent and it makes him realize that parenting is a shared responsibility. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and there were no truer words. If Mummy cannot be there, someone else who loves my son and can care for him is always around. That could mean Daddy, grandparents, a caring teacher, or a loving helper, etc. A child will always need his mother but when we aren’t around, we are ensuring for his care, happiness, and safety. Isn’t that an ideal environment after all?

The mother’s guilt is also destructive because it comes in the way of being true to yourself. I know that I’m a better version of myself when I make time to nurture friendships and follow my own pursuits, be it work, hobbies, or leisurely activities. In fact, we need it to be sane and feel fulfilled. Motherhood doesn’t have to be all-consuming. When I’m good to myself, I’m even better with my child because I’m in a happier state of mind. Somehow, I’d like to believe that I’m setting an important example to my child about the importance of family while balancing the emotional needs of oneself.

Lastly, when I do spend time with my child, I make sure it counts. When I’m at work, I give it my full focus. Why then shouldn’t I owe my child the same amount of attention? The one-on-one time I get with my son is something I value. Whether it is exploring new places together in Singapore, visiting a park, going for a walk, or reading books at home, I know he’s happy just having me with him.

It’s great that we want to dedicate as much time to our children as possible. But I try to put things in perspective and not overthink it. Raising a child is a long term undertaking which should be given its due priority. But building a career or pursuing our passions does not make us bad mothers. If anything, it makes us Super Moms…the kinds our children can look up to.

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