Becoming a mom changes everything and, in my experience, can bring with it a serious case of Mom Guilt. Mom Guilt is bittersweet, an indication that I have lots of opportunities, for which I’m grateful, and many commitments that weigh on my heart and mind.
At 19 years old, I vividly recall opening the Wall Street Journal and reviewing the list of the 50 Most Powerful Women. I ambitiously thought, “I can totally be one of those women someday.” My freshman year in college, I had every intention of being a bad ass investment banker on Wall Street.
Today, I have absolutely no desire to make that list or even live in New York City, let alone run on Wall Street.
Dreams fade, I suppose. Or maybe they just change? New ones replace outdated ones?
Becoming a mom changed everything.
Getting to the gym or attending barre classes regularly is a thing of the past. Healthy lunches have been replaced by whatever leftovers my children choose not to eat or whatever is easiest to grab from the fridge or cabinet when I’m busy with work. (I definitely did not have chocolate chips for lunch today, in case anyone was asking.) I know I should take better care of myself, but it doesn’t always happen.
My passions for kicking ass at work waned; I strive to do well but don’t have the same itch to quickly climb the corporate ladder. I don’t feel like I have time to put forth the effort required to shoot up the ranks and also be a good mom. My energy for “conquering” the corporate world has been exhausted by motherhood. I know I could perform better with more time, but I can never finish everything on my to-do list before it’s time for daycare pick up.
M and I used to spend so many fun nights out at new and interesting restaurants. We traveled around the world. We played intramural sports and made dinner together. Now we’re lucky to spend 15 quality minutes together before crashing into bed. I know we could make time for date nights more often and be more proactive about hiring babysitters, but we don’t and we aren’t as much as we should.
Before kids, life was simpler. I had far fewer “should haves” trailing after me. Only now do I realize that I had SO. MUCH. TIME!
Becoming a mom is a choice I made; one about which I have no regrets. That doesn’t mean, though, that it comes without weight or sacrifice.
Mom Guilt is definitely a ‘thing’.
Last week, a colleague shared this video with me, noting it resonated with many other working moms around her. With over 1.6 million YouTube views as I write this post, her friends haven’t been the only interested viewers.
I constantly feel like I have too much on my plate, yet I’m not sure where to let go.
Watching the video, I think it’s intended to make me feel better, to suggest that others don’t perceive me dropping the ball as often I see it in myself. I suppose it’s helpful to believe that the feelings of being less than satisfactory are so pervasive among mothers that Chicco felt inclined to create a video about it (and that video has gone viral).
Although no reflection of the video, it doesn’t really make me feel better. Just because others also feel overwhelmed or unsatisfactory doesn’t make me feel like I’ve got my act together enough. I still feel like I’m always letting someone down or choosing one commitment at the expense of another.
Can I Simplify My Way to Success?
I’ve pursued a modified “mainstream” version of minimalism in hopes it would help limit the recurring feeling of failure. Shouldn’t minimalism reduce the demands on my time, my wallet and my heart?
I started writing about my journey hoping that, if I could figure it out, maybe I could help others do the same. (I recognize the irony of adding something like a blog to my plate while trying to reduce stress and demands on my time, but the blog also satisfies my yearning for a creative outlet to explore so many ideas flowing through my mind.)
I struggled to find other parents writing about “mainstream minimalism” so I decided to fill the space myself. Most minimalist, ethical or sustainable living blogs are written by those without kids. I don’t discount the experience of minimalism without kids, but not having children makes following minimalist or ethical principles so much easier. At times, it’s almost hard to relate or apply their practices to a suburban family life.
Spoiler Alert: Simplification helps calm the storm of life, but it’s not the smoking gun to everlasting serenity and elimination of ‘mom guilt.’
Dream a Different Dream
You may not have dreamed of being a bad ass banker in Manhattan or pictured yourself on the Wall Street Journal’s 50 Most Powerful Women list, but you likely had some lofty ambition that was swept away by the tides of parenthood.
I think each of our lives have a relatively fixed capacity for dreams and plans and priorities. As children enter our lives, our dreams for them and their priorities shove some of our own dreams and plans aside, maybe just for now and sometimes forever. Some of the trade offs are easy and others are harder to swallow.
Without much fanfare and certainly without regret, I’ve graciously traded in my high-powered corporate ambitions for a more manageable part-time but still corporate assignment. After many years of competitive tennis, I stored away my rackets (for now) and haven’t looked back.
Even though I’ve parted ways with some of my ambitions, new dreams and plans have taken over and I still don’t have enough time in the day to pursue them all with the conviction I’d like.
Part of my attempt to live sustainably includes making choices that I can live with for the long haul, choices that won’t eventually leave me feeling burned out or empty. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.
Maybe one of these days I’ll pare down to a motley crew of ventures that leaves each with a bit of breathing room. For now, I’ve willingly pushed aside some former big dreams, but there remains a handful of stubborn priorities wrestling for position that I’ll just have to keep juggling.
And I’m still feeling guilty about not paying any of those priorities their fair share of attention, because Mom Guilt is totally a ‘thing’.
Dress ~ Adrianna Papell | Shoes ~ Nisolo