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Mom guilt is a pretty universal feeling and can take a toll on your feelings and emotions. In this eye-opening interview, we speak to new mom, Seerat Soni, about motherhood, guilt and learning to embrace one’s journey as a mom.
Q. We’re so excited to share your voice on this platform, Seerat. We love your Instagram profile - @adventuresofzohaan. What inspired you to start sharing your experiences as a Mom on IG?
Ans. As a millennial mother, having a social media account for my baby pretty natural. I created my baby’s social media page as a way to maintain his personal identity apart from the fact that I did not want him to hijack my page, so to say. As an individual, parenting comes differently to one and all. I come from a school of thought were there is no “right or wrong” as opposed to conventional parenting. I moved out of my house 4 days after I delivered my baby. I did have my share of fingered pointed at me, but it didn’t bother me in the least. I was lucky enough to not have slipped into post partum depression only because of my decision of taking teeny-meeny breaks from my new found calling “Motherhood”. Often people asked me how I appeared so stable and happy, considering the first few months of motherhood came with its own set of challenges. It was at this time that I decided to create an Instagram profile for my baby, giving a very new perspective to motherhood all together.
Q. Why do you think so many moms suffer from “Mom guilt” and how would you describe this feeling?
Ans. Mom guilt is very pervasive amongst mothers these days. Enormous pressure from the society, relatives, and social media on the idea of how an ideal mom should be plays a pivotal role when Mom guilt strikes. It can be described as a feeling of anxiety, doubt, uncertainty in falling short of meeting expectations. Many aspects of parenthood, apart from emotional topics such as breastfeeding or at times health of the child etc can act as triggers points. Mother guilt can show up in any ‘mom situation’, it can be described as a feel of shame towards self. Guilt and shame leads one towards deep judgment of self, persistent negative thoughts and in some cases, comparisons with others. Mothers become their own worst critics and these bottled up feelings manifest themselves in the form of depression, anxiety and negative thoughts.
Q. Do you think a lot of dads also feel the same way or is it something you see more commonly amongst mothers?
Ans. Dad guilt is somewhat different from mother guilt. I think it’s a matter of perspective. What drives women into mom guilt is the idea of being ideal and perfect. While for dads it’s more of falling short in meeting expectations that they have from themselves. Also, it’s how you see the situation. Men are more likely to term the feeling as “frustration”, while women are likely to bottle up feelings, as the ideal mother is not supposed to feel angry, frustrated, or unhappy.
Q. Research has shown that it’s not only working moms who suffer from mom guilt but even moms who freelance, work part-time or even stay at home. Why do you think it is such a universal feeling amongst moms?
Ans. Mommy guilt is a universal feeling. It is a myth that stay at home mothers are less likely to suffer from mom guilt. Again, it’s about how we see the situation. At times thoughts of our pre-baby life or secret feelings of regret come up. When these thoughts are made vocal, it leads to judgement from others, which causes moms to once again bottle up their feelings. This is when guilt takes over.
Society as a whole has created this unreasonable expectation from new mothers, which is to be constantly happy. However, research shows that 1 in 7 mothers suffer from postpartum depression.
Q. Based on your conversations with other mothers, what are some of the most common things that moms tend to feel guilty about on a daily basis?
Ans. Every mother’s experience is unique and so are the characteristics of her guilt. The variables that contribute toward mother guilt are numerous and at times very intense. Moms have a unique talent of being so caring and nurturing towards others while being relentlessly tough on themselves. So, for instance, I have seen mamaswho consider stepping out of home sans the babya selfish act. Something as small as indulging in retail therapy alone or catching up with friends, makes them question themselves if they are doing the right thing.
One of the most common things that moms tend to feel guilty about is breastfeeding and going back to work. Breastfeeding is Hard! And for some it does not come naturally. It certainly does not make one less of a mom if they decide to supplement the baby with formula. But unfortunately this remains the number one reason for mom guilt based on my conversations with other mothers.
Q. Can you tell us about your own personal experiences and some of the things that have made you feel guilty as a Mom?
Ans. Oh! A lot of things. But the toughest till date has been this time when I decided a host an arrival party for Zohaan. He was just two months old and I had to plan everything from start till the end. I would express milk for him and run errands during the day. There was this one time just a day before the main party that I couldn’t take the guilt and broke down. I realized that although the party was meant to celebrate his arrival, my poor little baby had no understanding of what was happening and that the party meant nothing to him. That was one incident which made me feel extremely guilty as a mom.
Q. How do you think one can get past this feeling, or at the least, learn to accept and deal with it?
Ans. MOTHER GUILT. It is this sense of culpability that consumes most mamas. We are always judging ourselves when we fall short. One thing that helped me the most to overcome this feeling was accepting the fact that it is simply unrealistic to stop feeling guilty. There are a few things moms can do to harness and channel the inner guilt in the right direction. Embrace it. Think of what makes you feel guilty the most, you might want to figure out ways to change that pattern. Accept that it’s okay to fail at times, we are all human at the end of the day. In life there are times when we might have to give priority to something else apart from the baby and that’s okay!Accept that you might miss out on things and it’s OKAY!
Q. Lastly, what advice would you give to other Moms who suffer from similar feelings of guilt?
Ans. Motherhood is the most challenging and the most rewarding experience in a woman’s life. Stop comparing your apples with other mama’s oranges. Nothing in the world should make you question your competency as a mother. Always think of your own accomplishments as a mother when negative thoughts creep in. We are our own harshest critics. Understand the fact that it won’t last forever. And on a final note let’s look at guilt positively and realize that in a way guilt makes us better parents, for it makes us work on ourselves and our mistakes. NOBODY IS PERFECT!