Mom Guilt is Real. And a Real Emotional Rollercoaster.

Today is the last day I will pump. I breastfed my girls for 15 months and 12 months respectively, and have a 2-month+ supply of breast milk, yet I feel enormous mom guilt. I feel guilty for stopping when I still have a good supply and for wanting my body and freedom back. But WHY?!?! After four and a half years filled with pregnancy and breastfeeding for more than 3,600 hours, WHY?!?! The guilt is there. I'm a quitter. I gave up. (PSA: Please stop telling me and other mamas how wonderful it is to have been able to do it for so long.)

The guilt hitting me like a brick today inspired me to share my thoughts about one of the most well-known challenges mamas face - mom guilt. Its emotional rollercoaster takes us on a wild ride, leaving us feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, and constantly questioning our decisions.

For me, mom guilt is that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think I've fallen short as a mother. It happens to moms when we take time for ourselves, pursue a career, or open a business. It's as simple as feeling like we're not giving our children enough attention. It affects our emotional well-being, relationships, and overall sense of self-worth. To be clear, dads don’t know it and can't experience or understand it, which is totally not fair. But that’s a whole other conversation.

Societal expectations, the pressure to be a perfect mother, constantly comparing ourselves to other moms, and our own unrealistic standards contribute to this emotional phenomenon. And let’s not forget how social media's highlight reels and curated images magnify our insecurities and fuel our guilt. I do have a pretty Instagram though, don't I?

We need to challenge and reshape our expectations. Sometimes I feel like supermom, other times, I question decisions, like being a working mom running my own business and sacrificing so much time away from my kids.  I know motherhood is a journey filled with peaks and valleys. It's entirely normal for me and all the mamas reading (and not reading) this to experience fluctuations in emotions. By acknowledging and accepting these feelings, we can learn to navigate them with self-compassion.

We need to stop striving for perfection. Embracing imperfection allows us to let go of unrealistic expectations and focus on the love and care we provide for our children. And in those imperfect moments, our mistakes are valuable lessons that shape us into better mothers.

The journey through mom guilt is easier when we have a support system, like the mom community Milk by Mom is working to build here. Surrounding ourselves with other moms who understand our struggles creates a space for empathy, shared experiences, and advice. Realizing we're not alone can alleviate the heavy weight we feel buried under.

Today, I am allowing myself to take off the breastfeeding/pumping backpack. I'm reminding myself that I am doing the best I can. I'll work to navigate this rollercoaster gracefully and allow myself to feel excited about all the things I will get to do that I have put off for so many years, things that are for me.

To all the mamas that need to hear this, I see you. I know it’s real but today and everyday remember to let go of the guilt that weighs you down and embrace the joyous moments of motherhood with confidence and self-love. You are all incredible, flaws and all! We are freaking superheroes.

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