So This is “Mom Guilt”

23 Comments 17 August 2011

I haven’t blogged in a while. Mostly because I don’t have the time, but also partly because I always want to post something “worth while,” ie, informative, inspiring or just plain cool. I’ve realized however, by not blogging, I’m not documenting my life very well. Because I don’t journal anymore now that I have a blog. But if  I don’t blog about every day things…I think you get my point. So enough is enough, it’s time to start blogging! Sharing! Getting this sh*t out of my system.

Tonight’s topic: Mom Guilt.

Truth be told, I never really experienced Mom Guilt until after Lucan was born. It came on fast and furious.

It started with the obvious: I could no longer pay attention to Ella all day long, each and every day.

I simply couldn’t, not like before he was born. There she was, standing in front of me asking me to dance and I couldn’t. And she didn’t understand why. That was hard. She was a trooper about it though. Her tears were few. I asked her to dance for me. Told her I would watch and so she did. I told her she was beautiful while my heart broke with sadness and pride for my little girl.

But the real Mom Guilt has come in a form I am not so proud to share.

I realized I must share this while discussing the issue with fellow moms at the La Leche League meeting this morning. It is something, we found out, very common for mothers with children less than three years apart – specifically during the second child’s newborn stage.

When our older child acts out we feel:

Anger. Rage. Complete frustration. Complete lack of patience. Monsters, we become – completely unrecognizable to our former selves.

And why? 

Because they should know better.

They are older. They should understand why you don’t want them to throw the quinoa all over the floor after you politely and calmly ask them not to.

So we yell. We scold. In the heat of the moment we say things we wish we could take back. We give looks that we wish we could take back. It’s a tone.

I’ve had those moments. And the guilt is crushing.

I forget that my sweet Ella Rose is still only two and a half years old. She looks seven years old compared to her seven week old brother. She is still a baby. She doesn’t understand.

What she does understand though, is love.

It is the one thing that heals wounds. I hold my little girl and apologize for my harsh words. I tell her the way I spoke to her wasn’t nice. We hug. And when she sighs and says, “all better now,” I feel a bit of hope, trying not to replay the scene over and over again in my mind. I believe her – that she really means it. That I haven’t done lasting damage.

I hope not.

Your Comments

23 Comments so far

  1. Sandi says:

    Yes. So much yes.

  2. smacpherson says:

    It’s ok momma things get easier i would sat the first three montgs where the worst time for the anger now at 10 months and 4 years its gotten easier to not be harsh although I still have to keep it in check.

  3. Kirsten says:

    I’m expecting #2 is 8 weeks (give or take!), and I’m already worrying about how I’ll react when my 2.5 year old son acts out. I know that I most likely won’t have the same amount of patience I have now. I know I will make mistakes and act in a way I will regret sometimes, but like you, I will try my best to ‘heal any wounds’ with love. I think it means a lot to children when their parents admit to them that they have made a mistake and remind them how much they are loved…

  4. Joy says:

    That’s so well said! I have a 2.5 year old, 1.5 year old, & 6 month old! I am so thankful for the grace my children have for ME!

  5. Sheila says:

    I’m crying. Thanks for having the courage to share this and allowing the rest of us to heal a little. Glad to have you back around! : )

  6. Nikki says:

    I get this… completely. I look at our older son’s face sometimes and see this “look” and it crushes me. I wish I could explain that things won’t always be this way…that Charlie won’t always need me quite so much, that I won’t always be so sleep-deprived and grouchy, and most of all….that I love him beyond explanation. Being a mom is hard. Oh, Kaitlin, I’ve got the “mom guilt” too!

  7. Tania says:

    Some days are bad days and some are good days. It breaks my heart when I yell at my son. Literally, I feel like my heart has been torn from my chest. He’s 4.5 and “does” know better by now and what is expected of him. But, he’s still a child. And he does forgive me and we make up. Here’s to learning and growing each day!

  8. Christie says:

    First of all, you are a wonderful, loving, devout, completely brilliant mother and I look up to you very much. Secondly, your honesty and willingness to share have made me look more thoroughly at my own actions and all too frequent frustration with my first born. And for that (and for you) I am grateful.

  9. Katie says:

    No one ever tells you about this part. I was starting to wonder if something was wrong with me. Now, to know I’m not alone is wonderful. I needed this right now, today. Thank you for posting this. We are at 4 months and 2.5 years and sometimes I think I was crazy for wanting kids close together.

  10. Katie says:

    By the way, I just noticed we share a name, and if rose is your middle, almost both first and middle names! I’ve never met anyone with Kaitlin spelled the same way! :)

  11. Julia says:

    Wow- you just killed me. I have 3 kiddos- the oldest is 4 and my youngest is 6 months. I’ve SO been going through this lately and the guilt is killing me. My middle child gets the brunt of it and I feel SO badly about that. She was the “baby” til a few months ago and now she gets in trouble so often! In an effort to assuage some guilt she and I went on a short “date” tonight. (Ice cream!) I told her I was sorry for being hard on her and for raising my voice a few times this past week. She looked at me and said, “Oh, it’s just funny, Mama.” (tears!) I got home and my dear husband was playing a board game with the 4 yr. old as my 6 month old napped.
    Things WILL get back to normal then, right?!

  12. You’re an incredible mother and your honesty is brave and reassuring to many moms who go through the same thing! I’ll be sure to remember this when I have my second child. Thank you!

  13. Jody says:

    Just last night i shouted like that at my oldest son and my ( not two for another month) two year old, and I felt really bad. I need to hug a bit more and shout a lot less, smile when i’m tired and think before i speak. Thank you for sharing x

  14. Misty Ver Strat Hitchcock says:

    Katie…Thank you for making me feel like I’m not the only mommy monster in the world! I have this guilt almost always…when my emotions just go out of control after being asked for the same thing over and over again, even when I feel I gave a calm sensible and age appropriate reason. I too sit back and tell myself she’s only been through life for 7 years, and this is a phase. I still get pushed past my limits daily and I have to remember I am only human, but what I never can let go is the guilt I feel after I just yelled ENOUGH! I feel like I’m letting my repect go out the window, my pride, emotional control and I feel like I’m showing my girls how insecure and frusterated their mother is…which I HOPE doesn’t rub off. I felt so terrible when my 3rd was born the same year as my second, I felt like I cheater her. This shows that Mothers don’t just go through life doing what needs to be done…we feel what needs to be done…we feel everything deeply!! Good job katie for supporting mothers and all of our “flaws”. We live in this world, with so much pressure and choices..we often loose sight in that all we need is eachother :D

  15. MMQC says:

    Oh, I can really relate. My twins were born a month before my daughter turned three. I feel terrible guilt about how many times I lost my cool with her. When he sisters were born, she lost all of her potty training and with little domestic help, I was incredibly overwhelmed. I expected so much more of her because she just seemed so big by comparison. It was totally unfair of me. (I can see that now, however. At the time, it was impossible.)

    She is about to go off to kindergarten and I am happy to say that we have a really good relationship. I still feel bad about what a disaster her third year and my twins’ first year was but I think having a sibling far outweighs mom’s occasional temper tantrum.

    It’s not a bad thing to lose your cool so long as you recognize it and can talk about it with your daughter. You will all be fine.

  16. s.e. says:

    just wanted to add a comment from a mom who went through this but whose kids are all grown up now:) I had my third son when the older 2 were 25 months and 3.5 years old. I had my fourth son when the oldest wasn’t yet 6 and my youngest was 28 months old. My kids were all planned. It was crazy but the boys are now 19.5, almost 22, 24 and 25 and are all lovely men and I have 2 daughters in law too. I also have a 14 year old daughter who was born 4 years and 11 months after my fourth son:)
    Be gentle with yourselves when you have several little ones, it does get easier and one day they will be suddenly all grown up. Remembering that I had another chance to do it differently with each new day helped a lot when I was in that baby and toddler stage for so long.

  17. Annie says:

    Very well said, Kaitlin! The part about expecting the older child to know what the right thing to do is because they look SO grown-up next to the baby really was a lightbulb moment for me. We’ve been having some adjusting issues this summer (delayed after all being so easy the first 8 months) and I find myself being very tough on Felix (just 4 in July). When I hear Tom intervening playfully to lighten the mood from the next room with him, I KNOW I’ve turned full on into monster mama. :( I get huge mommy guilt…and just about about always apologize and talk about it later with Felix. It is amazing the clarity and thought he’s put into the situation when we do discuss it later. Sometimes this is heartbreaking because he’s been thinking about that breakdown all day, but also we plan together how we’ll avoid that situation in the future. All my experienced mom friends keep telling me it’s so OKAY for them to see you as human when you also apologize and make it better later. I have to say, even if you feel like a mean mommy from time to time, my overwhelming impression of your mommy-ing from your video blogging has been that you are so patient and non-demanding/bossy (my struggle), I can only imagine these moments you “transform” are such a small piece of your time with Ella!

  18. Joy says:

    You hit the nail on the head. I have to remind myself to put remember their ages. I have a 6-yr-old, 4-yr-old and almost-2-year-old while expecting our first boy in September. It was and still is hard. I still struggle and have my moments. Heck I just bought “Happy Mama Spray” from earthmamaangelbaby for those moments I feel myself losing my cool.

    We have to remind ourselves to take a deep breath before reacting. And it’s good to know I’m not the only one who feels this way AND wants to change.

  19. Ivy says:

    You SO got it. My daughter was 21 months old when my son was born, and now that he’s a year old, HE’LL be 21 months when our 3rd is born…and you do become a monster, and the guilt IS horrific. But I know it’s all worth it when I see them playing together and having fun. I know that what they might lose in individual mommy time (and patience) they gain by having a sibling so close in age that they can experience life with.

    I was on a real monster mommy tear the other night when pregnancy hormones pushed me over the limit, and when my HUSBAND told me to calm down, I was horrified with myself. Gotta learn to forgive though…It’s OK not to be perfect, as long as it reminds us to try harder next time!

  20. Kristen says:

    Thank you so much for sharing these feelings, it makes me feel so great that I’m not the only one. I worry so much about how I’ll react with my little munchkin, she’ll be four when the baby is born. I have these feelings now sometimes and do the same things; apologize, tell her the way I’ve acted wasn’t nice, etc. But *siigh* It just feels good to know that I’m not the only one who loses her cool. /: The replaying of the incident in my mind is what gets me the most. :(

  21. Angie L. says:

    I had those horrible guilt feelings for so long. I think it only began to dissipate when my girls, 2 years apart, began to play together. It was then OK that I burdened my older child with a younger sibling because now, it benefitted both of them. However I still felt guilt ridden by the way I had acted for the previous months! Its so hard being a mom sometimes. I’ve been over my guilt for a while now and I always warn moms who are about to have their second that the guilt is OK. It will go away and its OK that they feel that guilt, and don’t let it affect you like I feel I did. Being depressed because of it is so difficult…

  22. Lisa says:

    I have 6 kids, 12 to 10 months, and patience is so hard to come by! I find myself praying for forgiveness over my inadequacies often. Sometimes we just have to give ourselves a break and come back rejeuvenated. I also try to remember all the GOOD I do, instead of just focusing on my weaknesses. I do hate that guilty feeling, but God knows we are human, and an apology goes a long ways! It shows our kids that we can make mistakes and move on, so that they can do the same when they have children. I am learning to recognize that grumpy feeling and (try) not to act on it. =)

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