A stunning thing happened last week during Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings. In her opening statement, she explained that she was “saving a special moment in her introduction for her daughters.” She said, “I know it hasn’t been easy as I have tried to navigate the challenges of juggling my career and motherhood. And I fully admit that I did not always get the balance right. But, I hope that you have seen that hard work, determination and love, it can be done.”
Yes, she said out loud and very publicly, what most of us feel & fear as mothers, that we’re not getting it quite right. The inner voice that questions whether we’re doing enough as a parent, not doing things right, or maybe it’s making decisions that will “mess up” your kid in the long run.
Judge Ketanji Brown admitted to her “mea culpa” moments as a mother while mentioning the birthdays, recitals and sporting events she might have missed while having to balance her work as a federal judge.
Mom guilt has many forms from your own personal insecurities to outside pressures from family, friends and social media. Cue all the cute photos of happy families on Facebook and Instagram, it’s enough to make anyone feel insecure.
The messages & expectations are endless:
- Limit screen time, find educational & creative activities for your kids to do instead
- Let your kids get tons of exercise, make play dates, but also keep their play areas organized and clean. And keep your house spotless.
- Cook healthy/well balanced meals every night.
- Do self care, but not at the expense of being interactive with your kids
- For your tweens/teens – be aware of their social/emotional development – who is in their peer group, drug & alcohol use
And the list goes on…
We’ve all felt the sting of mom guilt on certain days.
I remember when my daughter was first born, I had every intention of breastfeeding. She ended up needing some surgery and was in the NICU for several weeks. I was told her sucking reflex was immature maybe due to her receiving IV fluids and not using her own muscles. She was never able to “latch” well and subsequently I was not able to breastfeed.
I was heartbroken and felt like I already failed in the 1st few weeks of my daughter’s life. I still sometimes feel like I have to tell her birth story to defend against my not breastfeeding when people still ask.
I moved past that only to get to my next “mommy hurdle”. All the things I worried about…
Early on, it was will she ever get out of pull ups at night? Is her never ending energy going to be a problem in the future? Then, it became, does she have enough extracurricular activities, is she spending too much time just hanging out doing nothing? She used to be so interested in reading, what happened? Is there an inordinate amount of “girl drama” & how do I help her navigate through all this? Does she have a healthy body image, is she too enamored with social media and instagram photos?
It’s ever present at every age and stage. We worry, we ruminate, we have anxiety. We want to show up as our “best selves” for our kids. We want to be present for all the celebrations & all the struggles.
It’s all of us; me, you & Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Whether you’re a working mom, a stay at home mom, or a judge and soon to be Supreme Court Justice; you will struggle to always get it right.
My few pieces of advice as both a mom and parent coach.
- Take care of yourself so you can take care of them. I preach this to my clients.
- Know your truth, your family’s core values. Live by them and don’t let others opinions sway you.
- Listen to your children & your own intuition – you know them better than anyone
- Stay off social media if you’re prone to comparison
- Give your best self on a particular day & know your best self won’t be the same everyday.
And if Judge Jackson can admit on the national stage that she wasn’t perfect, but she showed up and did her best on most days, we’re all doing our best too.
If you, or someone you know is struggling, or maybe just needs a little support with their worries and concerns as a parent, please have them reach out for a consultation.