Holding on to Guilt

Can I talk to you about Mom guilt? It might be a phrase you have heard before, but let me paint a picture of what it is looking like in my life.

My dear, sweet daughter takes the worst naps. I do everything I can to get her to sleep well. Dark room, white noise, sleep sack, lullabies, rocking her, nursing her to sleep. Just as much as I humanly can to get my girl to sleep. Sometimes this takes 45 minutes. Usually, I put her in the crib and if she doesn’t wake up immediately after her back touches the mattress, she only sleeps 30-40 minutes. It’s an exhausting ritual we go through and I just cry somedays with how demanding it is to be chained down by her nap schedule.

There is of course one magic bullet we have found that gives us freedom from the fight that is napping: her swing. It is a magical device that can help her nap for hours if we let her. It’s a hands-free way to get the space to do my work, to clean, to shower. I keep an eye on her in the monitor and I check in on her anytime I feel a bit wary about her position. But at the end of the day, it’s been a game-changer.

But here’s the catch, swings aren’t sleep approved anymore. There has been a recent shift against using swings for any amount of sleep. You can read more here if you want, but this dilemma has now plagued my mind for months. I know, for generations, baby swings have been used by loads of parents for lots of babies. But there is still a risk.

In moments of desperation, I have used the swing for the naps. She needs the sleep, I need the break, I don’t know what else to do. I know that being a parent is largely just being in survival mode.

I would tell any other mom in my position to do whatever she needs to get through this phase. I would not guilt her in her choices, and I would try and help her know she is doing a good job and is enough. I cannot extend the same grace to myself.

My experience of mom guilt has largely been self-imposed. I don’t have a group of moms I talk to. I don’t post anything on social media about my parenting habits. There isn’t anyone that would “tattle” on me about my baby sleeping in a swing. I bog myself down with the feeling that I am not doing enough. That I am failing my daughter.

I wish I could say that this feeling is something I’m moving beyond. That I have learned to give myself grace in, but to be honest I have struggled so much with this today. This swing issue has also highlighted for me all of the other times I don’t give myself grace. How many times I have put on guilt that didn’t belong to be there. How many times I shamed myself for not being good enough.

I don’t want to remember this phase of my life as being overwhelmed by guilt. I want to let myself feel joy and gratitude towards God for the ups he gives and the downs he has brought me through. I want to know that I did my best with what I had and to know that God does and will fill in all of the gaps left by my humanity.

Where have you let guilt take control in your life? Where do you need to give yourself grace? Let’s let go of our guilt and let God fill in the gaps.

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