Photo courtesy of Allison Cooper

Here's What I Know About Mom Guilt After 10 Years Of Momming

The other day I did something that we jokingly call “pulling a nutty” between my mom and sisters, but I’m sure you have your own name for it in your household. It is the moment when mom loses it because, well, there are a million and one reasons why. It is the single moment we regret at the end of thousands upon thousands of moments of patience and understanding. It is very familiar to me. I'm not new to motherhood — after 10 years, I know how to recognize the pattern of exhaustion and then an outburst, followed by a tsunami of mom guilt.

This phenomenon has been well documented: in 2010, The Onion gave us "Report: Mom Just Locked Her Door." This was, bless them, filed under "NEWS": "Although Mom had reportedly been silently chopping vegetables in the kitchen, showing no signs of outward agitation or anger, multiple sources confirmed seeing her walk briskly through the living room and up the stairs before locking herself in her bedroom at approximately 6:38 p.m.," went the article.

Most recently, I "pulled a nutty" because our 10-year-old son who we have been having some behavioral problems with, pushed me over the edge. The day started with a call home from the teacher, and it all piled on from there. My son was rude to everyone at the dinner table that evening, but I took all the deep breaths and kept my composure as he rolled his eyes at me for the fiftieth time that day. I felt a bit of relief when he went up to his bedroom to work on his homework.


I had just gotten our 2-year-old cleaning up and relaxed while watching her favorite Disney movie in the living room when I heard a big “boom, boom, boom” coming from the other room. Then I heard our son stomping up the steps. I ran into the dining room to find four picture frames knocked over on the console table and caught my son at the top of the steps holding the bag of chips he wasn’t allowed to have until he finished his homework.

I knew that I should have walked away or handled it differently. Instead I yelled and yelled and yelled some more.

I ordered him to come downstairs as he not only almost broke some things, but was sneaking a treat behind our backs — all after having a not so good track record that day to begin with.

As soon as he stood before me at the bottom of the steps, he not only didn’t understand that he did something wrong in the moment, wouldn’t clean up or apologize, but he actually snickered at me. Yes, kids can be jerks sometimes and I. lost. my. s^$t.

In that moment, I knew that I should have walked away or handled it differently. Instead I yelled and yelled and yelled some more. Not one of my proudest moments. And I tossed and turned all night feeling bad about how I reacted. Mom guilt visited me hardcore that night.

These nutty moments where mom is completely pushed over the edge are really just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of moments that happen throughout the day that make us feel bad about our actions, feel we should have done more, or are not a good enough mother.

If you go to bed at night tossing and turning over mom guilt, it’s because you’re an effing good mom who loves her kids so much.

Couldn’t afford all organic groceries this week? Mom guilt. Forgot to schedule your kid on time for ballet registration. Hello mom guilt. Forgot to pack your kids lunch. Mom guilt again. It’s endless.

We let these moments eat us up inside and at some point during the day or week, we go over them in our heads, wishing that we made different decisions or had better advice for our children the moment something happened. The list goes on and on and the mom guilt grows bigger and bigger.

We’ve all been there and these moments exist because we are human and imperfect, and just like our kids, we’re learning as we grow. But even bigger than that, it’s because you care so much. Yes, if there is anything that I’ve learned after being a mom for 10 years, it’s that if you go to bed at night tossing and turning over mom guilt, it’s because you’re an effing good mom who loves her kids so much.

Digest that for a second though, mama. Mom guilt isn’t a part of your life because you are a bad mom, no matter how hard you might be on yourself. It’s there because you want what’s best for you and your family and you want to be the best for them. That moment when you break from the script of serene, never-ruffled mom feels enormous to you — it feels like breaking news: "Mom Not Good Enough" — but that isn't the truth. You care. That should be the headline.

This first-time mom wants to have a home birth, but is she ready? Watch how a doula supports a military mom who's determined to have a home birth in Episode One of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below. Visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for the next three episodes, launching every Monday starting November 26.