August 18, 2010 / Discussion

Guilty Moms


Join our discussion on why mothers love their children, but hate parenting.

  • Why do parents feel guilty?
  • How do we end the “Mommy Wars”?
  • Are women without children happier?
  • How can TNA help?

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  • Pat Garrison

    I’ve never felt guilty as a mom, just angry and exhausted. The changes in society and the fact that so many women work hasn’t changed the fact that we are still expected to handle the bulk of child-rearing and home management. As women, we need to come together around the unfairness of all of this — including the fact that we are constantly told to feel guilty or told that if we don’t at least feel guilty then we are not “good mothers”!

  • anna

    I don’t think women without children are happier. There are certainly some women who don’t have the desire to raise children and may just be happy with their life.
    I started being a mom after many years with a career and at least during the first 5 years did not miss anything I had given up compared to the gain. However, looking in perspective, I think it is unfair that for the most part women have to give up a lot for having the chance to raise children. whenever you start your child-rearing years the mom will give up or peddle down your career options. If you are a single parent like me the amount of leisure time will soon be nonexistent.

  • Alison

    I’m with Pat. I don’t feel guilty, just exhausted. Most moms I know feel this way yet we sometimes, IMHO, act a little too stoic about it. As in, yes I am utterly exhausted and it’s not fair that I do not have any down time while my husband does, but I’m just going to do it and get it all done and accept the blood, sweat and tears.

    It will be a major accomplishment in women’s empowerment if we can force the issue and get men to partake in more housework and childcare. This is an old conversation that we seem to have forgotten about! It’s like we are all embarrassed to look or act to “women’s lib” and so instead we just endure and complain about it politely to our female friends….

  • Janis

    I’m def a no-kids-and-happy-about-it type, but I have to wonder sometimes if the most tiring part of having kids isn’t guilt so much as just fear. Always worrying about them. My mom still does this, and I’m the youngest, and the grey hair’s starting to come in! She ALWAYS worries about us — not insanely, not overprotectively, just reflexively. I don’t mind — it’s just part of the mom thing. She can’t stop worrying about us any more than she can stop breathing.

    But Jesus, it must be exhausting. I dislike getting on the freeway with my kitty in my car, or bringing her to the vet for fear that they’ll say she has something awful. With KIDS?! Holy Christ.

    It turned out that I seem to have grasped just how hard my mom worked to raise us, and what she gave up. For MORE than 18 years, she was up and running 24/7. No damn time to herself, and I realize that. I love turning my native disinclination to spawn into an opportunity to blow wads of cash on her instead. I got her a cruise, and I finally got her to the point where she said to me, “Jan, I don’t need any more rubies.” She was born in the middle of the Depression, and I got her to that point. “Jan, I’m done with lobster for now.” Okay, mom. Now, it’s ballet tickets.

    I had a good father, and motherhood is still a FUCKING GRIND. I ain’t doing it. I bought myself a piano instead. And if I’m not going to have kids myself, I’ll make damn sure my mom gets some kind of payoff from having done it, because it’s a FUCKING GRIND. I want her up to her nose in rubies, damn it.

  • tango

    I also think many women fall into societal or familial pressure to have kids or more kids than they’d should which significantly contributes to their being exhausted. I really have a problem with a lot of what Dr. Laura Schlessinger says but she did have a caller once who said she felt like one child was more than enough since she was exhausted from one but was feeling extreme pressure by family to have a second child. Dr. Laura said the next time a family member asked when she planned to have a second child for her to tell them “I plan to have as many children as I can raise well”. And that has stuck with me and I think is excellent advice. It’s not the quanity of the kids but the quality of raising them that should be upmost in any potential parents mind. In todays world, kids don’t lack for socialization so the idea they need to have siblings is outdated. And only kids tend to be successful for the reason they have lot of adult attention. Not only are kids tiring, they take a toll on a marriage and financially can be a burden. I know people who have one child and then can’t get pregnant with a second one and spend years and tons of money on infertility treatments. I always felt the first child must feel like they’re not good enough, otherwise why would their parents do so much to have a second one. Why does society expect women to have 2 or more kids?

    I have one child, starting college this fall. Given a choice of what I know now, I quite possibly might have chosen to not have a child. Of course, ask me 10 years from now when my kid is out of the grumpy pissy teenager years and I’m doing paying college expense and that might be quite different. All I know is I loved her infant, toddler and elementary school years when she was much more compatible with me temperment wise so I think just dealing with kids emotionally can be why we get so tired.

  • Alison

    Thanks, Tango. I have one child and recently spent a weekend in NY where everyone speaks their mind. I got lots of lecturing from friends to have a second but I love having my one child and feel this is the way I can best have a family.

  • My first child went straight into full time daycare at 8 weeks of age. I was the breadwinner at the time and I had always known I was going to be a working mother. The first day away from my son ripped my heart out. I cried all day. I couldn’t believe that I would feel this strong an attachment to being near my baby. I reduced my work week to 32 hours so that I could spend one day with my new son and 4 days at the office. In principle this was a good idea, but in practice it was unmanageable. The only benefit was for my company because they got to reduce my pay by 20% but still could demand I work 40 hours plus. Since I had a strong work ethic I caved to their demands to come in for meetings on my day off. When my son was 1 was when I made the decision to leave corporate America and work for myself as an independent contractor. I have never looked back. it gave me incredible flexibility to be with my children and earn a living.

    My adjustment with my children and work has not been easy, but it has been easier because my husband shares in all aspects of taking care of our children. I had to learn to ask for help, but when I did he stepped right up and has been an equal partner. This way I do not have to be Super Woman, we can be Super Parents together.

    Being parents is exhausting no matter whether you have a job outside of parenting or not. It does get less complicated when your children get older and they can bath, dress, feed themselves. I believe that whatever your choice is as a Mother that the best thing you can do for your kids is help them develop independence and encourage good choices in social settings. Whenever we are out together spending family time and we see other children having tantrums, giving their Moms/Dads a difficult/challenging time, or behaving in a manner that is cruel to those around them; I will pause and turn to my children and say, “thank you” to them being great and making great choices. Positive reinforcement has worked very well for us.

  • Interesting read by Frank Luntz the pollster over at HuffPost: Why Moms are Mad: