In my experience, motherhood often feels synonymous with guilt. When I worked outside the home I felt guilty, and when I decided to be a stay-at-home mom I felt guilty. So, at the end of the day, it's difficult not to feel like no matter what, I can't "win." I'm definitely not alone, either. But here's the thing: what make moms feel guilty is barely a blip on the radars of our husbands and partners. Like, what we stress over doesn't even faze them, because they are absolutely not held to the same standards and are definitely not under the same societal pressure.
I think part of the problem is cultural. According to a 2019 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey, more moms work outside the home today than ever before. Yet those same moms are doing the majority of the child-rearing, according to the Pew Research Center. In other words, we are expected to "do it all." And while we try to do it all we are often shamed about our parenting choices, and, understandably, feel a ton of guilt about not measuring up. We're made to feel guilty about everything, from how we deliver our babies, to how we feed them, to where they sleep, to working late, to not enjoying every moment of motherhood, to not being able to make it to every school assembly.
As one 2018 study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found, the pressure to be a perfect mom can lead to burn out. Not surprisingly, this trend is more intense among moms who also have strong ideas about gendered parenting responsibilities and their role as mothers when compared to their male counterparts.
On the other hand, dads are praised for doing the bare minimum when it comes to caring for their children. So, honestly, it's no wonder they don't feel guilty about their parenting choices — at least not to the same extent as the mothers in their lives. My husband is a great parent, and we try to be equal partners on the parenting front, but rarely does he express feelings of parenting guilt the way that I do. No one has ever asked him if he planned to quit working after our kids were born, or why he's not at our baby's doctor's appointment, or why he's feeding our child a bottle of formula.
The playing field isn't even, my friends, and the following moms sharing what makes them feel guilty is proof positive that we have a long ways to go when it comes to parenting equity: