Mom Guilt…Let’s stop letting the world tell us who we should be!

Life is tough. Motherhood is tough. In fact, I think mom guilt is one of the most paralyzing things us moms deal with.

I’ve hit a little place where I’m struggling to keep my head on straight. So, you’re about to get the raw unedited Cindy. Please don’t judge ?.

Some of you may know, but I have entered a new season of my life. One that should be filled with excitement seeing my hard work pay off by publishing the book that has been over 6 years in the making. The ironic thing is, though, that when people congratulate me, I want to crawl into a hole fearful they are going to discover the real me.

This season feels anything but exciting. This season has been filled with a great deal of anxiety, nervousness, and self-doubt. Will anybody buy my book? Once they read the book, will they like it? Why don’t I have more social media followers? And then the self-talk. Ugh!!! It’s horrible. It often goes something like this… “See! You knew you weren’t good enough.” Or, “See! You knew you couldn’t do it.”

Undefined roles

A word (or two words actually) came to me this morning as I was working through life in my quiet time-UNDEFINED ROLES. I wasn’t sure what to make of that, so I started journaling and here is what happened:

Undefined roles. I don’t like undefined roles. In fact, I hate them! I like to know exactly what needs to be done and when I do, I’m the hardest working person I’ll ever meet. When I go to my “real job” at the clinic, I know exactly what my job is and I have to say I do a pretty good job. When I sub at school, run a class party, host an event, I know what my role is, and I get it done. I thrive on this feeling–the feeling of a job well done.

Unfortunately, the one thing that means the most to me, motherhood, is one big undefined role. I have no idea what I’m doing! The problem is that the world likes to define this role for me, and I let it. Hence, the guilt!

Mom guilt

I must cook organic meals for my family. I must look like I did when I was 25 and fit in my 9th grade pants.

I must throw birthday parties and bake cakes like I see on Pinterest.

I must have kids who don’t look like a hot mess and wear their cute matching outfits with a big bow to match.

I must show up to my kids’ school dressed like that fashion lady on Instagram.

I must have kids who are scholar athletes.

My house needs to look like it could be featured on Houzz and I need to be home doing DIY projects in between raising scholar athletes, working out to maintain my high school figure, and cooking the vegetables planted out back in my garden.

AHHHHH! I can’t do it! (Enter the tears.)

I’m a perfectionist so when my role is defined, I will go after it hard. The problem is, I can’t do all (or even part) of that! And what happens is, I feel like a failure. The result? I beat myself up.

What I need to recognize is when I am letting the world define my role as a mother instead of letting my maker and the creator of my children define my role. I was hardwired a certain way on purpose and so were my children. I (and only I) have what they need so why am I letting others define my role as mother?

That is what is happening in this season of my life as an author, a blogger, a publicist, a social media person (not sure what to call that), a marketer, and a speaker. Trust tree…I have no idea what I’m doing! My role is so incredibly undefined at this moment and I’m very uncomfortable with that.

The problem that this leads me to is my default mode of perfectionism and setting the bar at an unattainable height. I am seeking perfectionism in each of these roles that is completely foreign to me and out of my comfort zone. It ain’t gonna happen! And that makes me very unsettled inside and my punching gloves that I reserve for beating myself up come out.

My solution as I sat there in the quiet, just me, my dog, and my Maker…let the one who holds my life, my children, my past, present, and future, this book, and my career define my roles. This is where peace is. This is where freedom from guilt is. This is where I can let go of perfectionism and striving and just be. And this is what my new job description is:

  • Be true to myself and do what feels right in my spirit (aka gut)
  • Prioritize what is most important (my kids knowing I love them)
  • Listen to what I’m being called to do today and let everything else go
  • Sleep at night, quieting my mind from the “should haves” knowing that I did the best I could and who I am is not tied to how I did today or how much I accomplished
  • Don’t fear mistakes because that is I how I learn
  • Don’t let perfectionism be my bar (After all, what is perfect anyway?)
  • Run my race and stay the course set for me
  • Celebrate with gratitude every small thing in my path today
  • Enjoy the process instead of longing for the end result

After I wrote my new job description I journaled what my roles are and are not both as a mother and with my new undertaking and feel this is something I need to look at every morning so I keep my head on straight and stop letting the world and that voice of perfectionism in my head define them for me.

My roles as a mother are quite simple:

  • Make sure my children know they are loved
  • Make sure my children know they are important
  • Make sure my children know they are special
  • Provide for my children’s basic needs

That’s it!  What a relief.  My roles have nothing to do with being perfect, growing our food, being a great DIY’er, being “Pinteresting”, or looking like I am 25.

The definition of undefined is “endless”, “forever”, “limitless” and that is what motherhood and life really are? There’s no finish line so I’m going to run my race, enjoy the scenery along the way, look for things to be grateful for, and pick myself up, dust my knees off, and keep going when I fall.

Or at least I’m going to try!

To dig deeper, please find me on facebook, check out www.cindyutzinger.com, or read more in Why is My Kid Doing That? A Sensory Approach to Understanding Your Child’s Behavior.

Cindy Utzinger

Cindy Utzinger is an Occupational Therapist and author of “Why is My Kid Doing That?” A Sensory Approach to Understanding Your Child’s Behavior. She equips parents with the tools to help see their child’s behavior through a sensory lens.
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