Say goodbye to mom guilt
Prioritizing mom’s well being
for thriving families
By Karen Braveheart
I saw a social media post that said “the best moms sacrifice themselves for their kids.” I wanted to scream when I read that.
In the post, there was a photo of a mom with her three kids in the kitchen and a pizza pie cut into 3 pieces, one for each of the kids.
The post assumed that the “best” moms always put her kids first even before her own wants and needs.
They eat and she doesn’t. Say what!?!?
Hmmm where was her slice or dinner?
What if that mom truly desired a slice of pizza?
Why would she deprive herself of tasting a nice slice and enjoying it with her kids?
What kind of message is being portrayed here about being the “best” mom?
How our society wrongly pressures moms into putting themselves last
Me in front of a giant Adi plate poster
The word sacrifice is defined in Merriam Webster dictionary as ”an act of offering to a deity something precious especially: the killing of a victim on an altar, something offered in sacrifice, destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else, something given up or lost.”
That sounds awful!
Moms shouldn’t have to sacrifice themselves to meet some outside societal expectation that judges them as being the “best” when they act a certain way.
The late great Kobe Bryant defines “sacrifice”:
"There's a choice that we have to make as people, as individuals. If you want to be great at something, there's a choice you have to make. We all can be masters at our craft, but you have to make a choice. What I mean by that is, there are inherent sacrifices that come along with that. Family time, hanging out with friends, being a great friend, being a great son, nephew, whatever the case may be. There are sacrifices that come along with making that decision."
He’s focusing on mastering his craft NOT because society tells him to but because he wants to. This is discipline to his craft of basketball.
There’s a critical distinction here. Kobe is making a choice to better himself, to put his dream first and honor himself.
The difference is in how Kobe’s “sacrifice” becomes one where he’s learning to “master a craft” like motherhood. It requires daily discipline and commitment and that means making a conscious choice to socialize less, not party, to get up early every day, etc…
He’s giving TO himself NOT TAKING from himself.
Parenting is the toughest job in the world, especially with young children. Parenting is a 24/7 craft. Parenting is a journey where you grow and learn that requires daily discipline and commitment.
That’s the type of “sacrifice” Kobe talks about here- to evolve and grow as a parent.
Your time isn’t your own, but moms don’t have to “sacrifice” or take from themselves to be the “best” mom.
The opposite is true. A happy mom = a happy home. Read my blog for more on this especially if you’re an unhappy mom!
"It’s every mom’s choice to live up to her own expectations of what makes her happy"
In the above dinner scenario, the mom who gave her young children pizza first may not have been hungry or perhaps she wanted to wait to enjoy her meal after her kids went to bed.
That’s a loving choice because she honored herself and also helped her children.
A mother’s act of self love toward herself allows her to give to others in a peaceful way instead of coming from a place where she feels burdened or obligated because she hasn’t had time for herself. That feels heavy.
The distinction lies in parenting with unconditional love!
How a natural, healthy dose of guilt protects your baby
Justin one month old, check out that hair!
When my munchkins were young, the biological pull was so strong for me to not leave my babies. I felt guilt when I left them, even though I was happy.
The guilt I felt was powerful, an almost overwhelming urge to be with my babies when I was in class teaching. I felt it every time I walked out of our home.
Moms- can you relate to this? Drop a comment below?
I felt the guilt in my heart and my body too. I could feel when my babies were hungry at home because my breasts would start tingling in the middle of a lecture. I’d get this pulsating feeling of let down in my breasts and nipples and then my milk would start leaking.
Oxytocin, the natural guilt hormone of connection between mom and baby
Sophia one year old in her room
The guilt I talked about in the first part of this blog is one that puts unreasonable societal pressure on moms. It’s guilt that makes you feel bad.
There’s a different kind of guilt that naturally arises in a mom’s brain from the hormone oxytocin that moms and their babies share.
Oxytocin connects and bonds both mother and baby in their brains- just like how I felt when I would get a milk let down in my breasts and tingling in my nipples when I was away from my baby. My body instinctively knew they were hungry.
It’s well known that the hormone oxytocin is tied to trust and maternal bonding. I believe that it’s involved with activating a mother’s response and attentiveness to her crying baby and their facial cues when she hears, sees, and feels them.
I remember feeling overwhelming love, fierce protectiveness, and worry-a strong pull to be with my baby and take care of them and didn’t want to leave them all day. I was fortunate to have flexible a work schedule where I taught full time- just divided it up teaching some courses in person and others online after the kids were in bed at night. I wanted to spend time with them during the day when they were little.
"Nature designed it to work like this"
I felt guilty when I was away from them.
Some of my mom friends never left their babies- ever. Another didn’t want to give her baby a bottle- only breastfeed.
Did you feel this type of natural guilt too? What’s it like for you? Drop a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.
The strong desire to not be away from my munchkins when they were babies lessened as they got older. It felt natural to me to drop them at preschool when they were around 2-2.5 years old.
Now that they’re teens- Sophia is 17, Ryan is 15, and Justin is 13, I don’t feel that guilt anymore. I haven’t felt it in years. I gave them their wings and now they’re using them. They make their own choices in life and learn along the way.
Your choice your way
Sophia one year old in her room
A lot of my mom's friends' lives completely changed after having a baby. Some of them chose to give up successful careers to be a stay at home mom while others chose to work fulltime or like me, work fulltime with a flexible schedule.
Some of my friends would only leave their baby with a trusted family member while others couldn’t.. I know some moms who wouldn’t leave their baby with their husbands.
Whatever a mom’s choice, I honor it and society should too. It’s none of anyone’s business how a mom chooses to live and honor her own happiness.
Being “selfish” is really being selfless for yourself and others. You need enough in your tank to care for and nurture your loved ones.
The way you fill up your tank is by caring for yourself first.
I believe we should honor every mom’s decision about what feels right for her and her family. It’s OK not to sacrifice yourself. It’s more than OK. Just don’t do it! Put your happiness first and then watch you and your beloved family be happy and fulfilled too!
Say goodbye to societal mom guilt. It’s not real.
"What’s real is the love you have for yourself and your family"
- To learn more about the Prodigi Kids Self Worth Parenting Paradigm, read our free eBook. You'll gain a deeper understanding of how to raise your child with core beliefs of self worth and the neuroscience behind it.
- Read our blog "Discipline vs. Punishment," which does a deeper dive into exactly how our model built on love and discipline builds positive self worth. In it, I discuss how "teachable moments" and "love boundaries"- 2 terms I coined, when used daily with your child, lead to happier, healthier, and more connected relationships.
- Bring our products into your home to encourage a more loving engagement with your children and support our mission to make our Self Worth Parenting Paradigm the norm!
About the Author Karen Braveheart, CEO
Karen Braveheart is an attorney turned entrepreneur and mom of three who deeply cares about making the world a happier place by changing how we raise our children. Learn more