I have a friend that is battling breast cancer with three little girls. To keep us up to date on her journey, she created a Facebook group which is awesome because she can discuss exactly how she’s feeling and get support. It’s clear to me that she’s not only trying to heal from her surgery and suffering through chemo, she’s struggling with a big case of mommy guilt and needs to let it go.
As moms, we all feel guilty at times (and if you’re Catholic or Jewish probably more often than not). When our babies are little, we feel terrible when bad things happen that we can’t prevent or don’t know how (case in point, when I duct taped my baby). To me, that is normal guilt. You’re learning how to parent for the first time, make mistakes and move on. However, as our kids get older, you learn to just go with the flow and parent the best way you can and we need to stop feeling guilty about making mistakes or personal parenting choices. We need to raise our kids our own damn way.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about parenting the past few years as we’ve battled chronic illness it’s this- everyone has an opinion (and as my Dad eloquently said once, “opinions are like assholes, everyone has one“). All of these opinions about how we’re supposed to parent, contribute to the guilt. We start to question if we’re doing things wrong and feel like bad moms. Or, we know we’re doing things right and wind up losing friends over their criticism of our parenting. Good riddance, I say.
When you’re dealing with illness, parenting changes. In my case, as a caregiver, I had to learn to let myself decompress and be lazy at times. I had to learn how to take care of myself. In my friend’s case as the patient, it’s the same thing. There are times when she’s not going to feel like getting out of bed and times when she shouldn’t and that’s okay. Her only job right now as a mom is to battle this cancer and get healthy again. To be the best parent that she can given the circumstances. To get over the guilt.
So what does that mean? If she has to serve her kids ice cream for breakfast, it works. Can’t go to a school function? That’s fine. Needs to ask for help to get her kids out of the house at times. Absolutely. She needs to do whatever it takes to get through the day and save her energy for the times when she feels great and can love on those girls. She needs to mommy the best way she can and realize that yes, life is different than it was before and that’s okay.
And, all of you people judging her parenting? Unless you have breast cancer, have just had a mastectomy, are going through chemo and trying to be the best mom you can be to three little girls? You can eff off.