Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

ike most people who have access to the internet and don’t live under a rock or something, I had heard of mom guilt.

But I never thought it would happen to be.

I certainly didn’t think it would happen to me before I was even a mom.

I was wrong, because I haven’t even finished my first trimester of my first pregnancy yet, and already early stage mom guilt has kicked in in full force.

It’s as much a daily symptom for me as nausea and cravings for a specific food that I don’t have at home but need to eat immediately or else. (What the “or else” is I do not know, because I go get that food, dang it. Or, more often than not, I ask my husband to go get that food.)

Naively, I thought I was above the mom guilt thing.

I pride myself on being a feminist. I think traditional gender norms hold people back. I don’t think women are inherently more capable of taking care of and raising children than men — I think that’s just what we’ve been told.

I don’t think there’s only one way to be a mother or one way to be a parent.

I think that as long as you’re trying your best and your best includes you not deliberating harming your child and also you trying to teach your child not to be a jerk, you’re doing a darn good job.

I firmly believe that almost every other expectation we put on parents (particularly mothers) other than that is unrealistic and sets them up for failure.

I believe that the expectation that women have to become selfless, perfect angel-type people whose lives should completely revolve around their children as soon as they have them is just an extension of old-school, patriarchal beliefs that seek to define women solely through their relationship with and usefulness to someone else.

I also believe these patriarchal beliefs are complete and total nonsense.

It’s just the nonsense became a lot harder to ignore when I became the one who was pregnant and would hopefully (if all things work out) soon become a mom myself.

See, my friends with kids had talked to me about mom guilt before. They would tell me they were worried they weren’t doing all the right things. They were worried they weren’t doing enough. They were worried that they weren’t enough.

And I promptly told them they were full of crap. They were the best. They were wonderful. They were doing anything and everything a human being could possibly do. I could see that. Why couldn’t they see that?

“Show me who is making you feel this way and I will punch them in the face,” I would say and I would mean it.

But more often than not, the person making them feel that way was them, so I wasn’t even allowed to punch anyone.

And I wouldn’t understand what my friends were talking about at all.

Now though, I get it.

Because not a day, not an hour, goes by that I don’t worry about whether or not I’m doing something wrong and feel guilty that I’ve made a wrong choice.

Here’s a running list of my worries/guilt traps today:

Am I allowed to eat honey mustard because the ingredients’ label on the back of this mainstream brand of honey mustard dressing I put on my grilled chicken lists “white wine” as one of its ingredients? How much of this damn honey mustard have I already eaten? Is it too much?

Should I call the doctor about this? If I call the doctor about this, will she stop taking my calls?

Am I doing enough Kegels?Am I doing too many Kegels? Have I embarrassed my future child by saying the word ‘Kegels’ in a public forum?

Should I be using my pregnancy to be very productive and get a lot of work done before the baby comes? Or, should I be using my pregnancy to rest while I can before sleep becomes a luxury I can only dream of?

Is my worrying bad for the baby? If I stop worrying will I forget to worry about something that will actually harm the baby more?

You get it, it’s pretty much a nonstop list of worries and then guilt I’m making a wrong decision in every scenario.

Then to top it off, there’s more guilt that I’m worried about any of this stuff to begin with when I know people who would kill to be pregnant and have these types of worries that aren’t really much to be worried about at all. I get it because I used to be one of those people myself.

So, I feel worried. I feel guilty. I feel blessed.

And, I feel very hungry for the millionth time today so I might have to go send my husband to get me a taco.

I’m a freelance writer and editor. I’ve written nonfiction children’s books, bar reviews, health care communications and more: https://ashleystrehlehartman.com/

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store