Balancing Mom Guilt and Caregiver Guilt

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Being a mom is tough.

 

From birth, we have so many decisions to make about our children: bottle-feed or breastfeed, pampers or diapers, public school, private school, or home school. The decisions we must make are endless.

 

a mom kissing her baby girl's forehead as she feeds her a bottle

 

Technology gives us more options than ever before. The number of resources we have as moms makes things so much easier to navigate, but in a way, they make things harder, and we have developed a fear of better options … who thought this would be a thing!?

 

I think at some point, we have two options: we can let fear overtake us, or we can learn not to worry. Moms are great at multitasking, so many of us do a little worrying and a little praying.  I decided to stick to the praying. I cannot be everywhere at once. I cannot go through life never trusting anyone with my kids. I cannot worry myself to death or illness – I think that’s a real thing!

 

a woman with her eyes closed and hands folded in prayer

 

I alleviate mom guilt by trusting life, developing my skills as best as I can, and prioritizing my blessings.

 

Being a caregiver for a parent is equally tough.

 

Just like being a mom, we all have different stories and decisions to make: are our parents financially stable or should children take on some financial responsibility? Are our parents well enough to live alone, or do they need physical assistance or assisted living? Are we able to help manage their lives, or do we need some help?

 

Again, technology and advanced medicine have given aging adults so many options. Essentially if you can imagine a certain life, then you can create it. As a caregiver, it can be difficult trying to figure out what’s best for another person’s life, and it becomes easy to feel guilt over whether you are making the right decisions.

 

a young caregiver holding an older woman's handAs caregivers, we have the same options: let fear overtake us or learn not to worry.  I think the difference in my role as a mom and caregiver is that being in my 30’s, I can talk to many women about being a mom to a 3- and 5-year-old and they will understand, but it’s harder to find people my age who understand what it’s like to care for a parent. I have been helping my mom for seven years now. Although the roles are different in that I feel the need to protect my children who came from my womb, there is more psychological preparation to taking care of someone who once took care of you. I think in some ways, it can be more difficult mentally. I also understand what it’s like being a child, but I have no idea what it’s like to age into mid-life. Maybe it’s easier to deal with what I understand.

 

Both roles are stressful, and both can be rewarding. Both bring joy, and both can take a toll on your work, social life, and health.  

 

Whatever the similarities and differences, recently I’ve had to make the same decision about being a caregiver that I had to make being a mom. Am I going to worry myself to death and or illness, or am I going to trust life, develop some coping skills, and take time for self-care?

 

With my kids and with my mom, I’m going to have to trust life. I can’t control everything … I can give my kids the world, and they can grow up and want the moon. I can give my time as a caregiver, and my mom can want compassion. I can give my kids and my mom a piece of my mind, and they can decide they really wanted a piece of my heart.

 

I’m learning that is okay. I can only do my best. I try to live life in a way that I can sleep at night, and beyond that, life will have to do what it does.  So, in my opinion, how do you balance mom guilt with caregiver guilt? You don’t!  We do our best and leave guilt for people with more time on their hands. Worrying does not add a single hour to our lives. Let’s not waste precious time with our loved ones!

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