Combating “Mom Guilt”: The Bubble Theory

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Happy (late, but better than never) Mother’s Day!

I’m not a psychologist. Or a philosopher. However, I established a theory called the “bubble theory” and it’s the perfect way to eradicate some of the mom guilt that we may be carrying around with us.

Mom Guilt is real and frankly, irrational. It’s that annoying feeling, that nagging feeling, of not doing enough for your children. It’s what sometimes keeps us up at night, comparing ourselves to every other mother we have ever encountered in our lives and wondering if we will ever live up to or surpass societal expectations and standards of motherhood. It’s wondering if our child is happy and content and healthy. Does she laugh enough? Did she have fun today? Will he remember that I yelled at him for making a mess in the kitchen? Will the cry-it-out method permanently damage my child’s psyche? Does he feel neglected every time I drop him off at daycare?

Stop. All of it.

Let me shed some light on the Bubble Theory.

One day, after having a particularly difficult morning with my child-everything was a fight; she was crying; I was yelling-I dropped her off at daycare. I kissed her and told her that I hoped her morning got better, and I got back in the car, RELIEVED that, at least for a few hours, I could hear myself think again. The day continued, I went to work, I went home. She was waiting for me to play outside. We drove her car around the neighborhood. We played catch. We walked down the street to see the neighbor’s dog. At the end of our day, after dinner and a warm bath, I dressed her in her pajamas and I braided her hair up. I felt that mom guilt in my core, wishing I had been a little more patient in the morning; hoping that the rough start to her day hadn’t significantly impacted her entire day. As I combed and braided her hair, she looked at me and said. “You remember I was sad this morning?” I nodded. “But we played outside and I was happy.” And just like that, I felt the mom guilt wash away.

The very next day, I went to work (I nanny a little girl about the same age as my daughter). She and I were outside, blowing bubbles. She loves to blow bubbles. As we’re blowing bubbles, I’d try to blow really big ones. But everyone knows that blowing the big bubbles is kind of tricky. You have to be strategic about it. And if you do manage to blow an impressively large bubble, you have to make sure you point it out to the child(ren) FAST because they never last long. And while the little girl was content and mesmerized by the big bubble, her face lit up even moreso when ever I’d blow several regular sized bubbles. Because there were so many and she wanted to run through them and catch as many as she could.

And I realized. It is so hard-not impossible-but HARD to create the perfect day, let alone life. Much like a giant bubble. So much effort is put into the perfect day. From start to finish. It takes planning and leaves no room for error. The perfect day is as fragile as a big bubble. It’s beautiful, it’s appreciated, it’s mesmerizing, but it doesn’t last too long and is liable to burst at any moment.

But the way a child lights up at a swarm of small bubbles that they can run/dance/twirl through… that’s the way that they appreciate the small things. The minutes of the day. The story times and the snack times and the cuddles and the hugs and the kisses and the puzzles and the blocks and the meal times. If we stopped forcing the big bubbles, the perfection we so desire, we could enjoy the smaller moments together. The pressure to perfect one, entire thing would disappear, and we’d be left with hundreds of small, seemingly inconsequential fractions of happiness in it’s place.

That’s when I realized that when Chloe wakes up in the morning, she’s not thinking of the entire day as a whole. She’s not considering how everything will or should play out. She just cares about the day, moment by moment, as it happens. And yeah, some days I really mess up. But even on my messiest day, she thinks of the best parts of the day… and that’s the bubble theory.

Mom Guilt will never go away.
I just want to remind you that their perspective is so much different than ours.
You feel lazy for ordering pizza, rather than cooking. They see you having a really fun, carefree dinner together.
You don’t have the money to do anything extravagant this weekend. They see popcorn and living room slumber parties with mom ALL WEEKEND LONG.
You don’t have the strength to fight them about what they wear to school. They think you’re the coolest mom ever for letting them wear their princess dress and cowboy boots.

The bubble theory. Stop focusing and planning and theorizing the perfect, miraculous, beautiful day, week, month, year, existence, and just go along with the infinite, whimsical happenings of every day life.

#justkeepmomming

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