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  • Writer's pictureNyaria Lee

The Busy Mom Diaries: Guilt.



2am-4am seems to be the time when melatonin is no match for sleepless guilt. Feeling guilty as a mom, I've heard, comes with the territory, but for someone like me who already walks around as if they've done something wrong, this is hard.


Breathes in and breathes out

I was a college student in my fresh 20s, being my independent, sassy, irresponsible self. You know, acting like I knew the world when I really had no clue. I had a mindset that I could accomplish everything and anything, which included raising a child while not being mentally ready. I still have this mindset, by the way.

While "living my best life," I got a call asking if my cousin could come live with me for a week. I wasn't surprised by this call, and given my family situation, at some point, I expected it.

Admittedly, I wasn't excited about it, but one week turned into two weeks, then to months, and then to two years. And on September 11th, 2015, I officially got the title mom. The little human who came to my apartment in February 2013 no longer called me by my family nickname but called me mom instead.

I was raising him and dealing with so much at the time: school, negative and problematic family members, lack of money, guidance, and support, no community/relationships, and lack of self-worth. I was raising a child with no village.

Moving from Kinship care to adoption affects both the children and the person/people who go through the process. At 14 months, he had his own battles, and at 22, I had mine. I was now required to be responsible for my cousin, even though I didn't know how to. So, what I did was be 22 and try my best.

During this time, I had many struggles of how to be a mom, how to raise a child brought into this world by unfortunate circumstances, and how to do it with absolutely no support. I had to trust family, childcare workers, and acquaintances I didn't want to trust to be around him. I had to be okay with bringing him around family I didn't like and then force a smile on top of it all. While all this happened, the seed of guilt that was planted long before he came into the picture blossomed into a full-blown flower.

My guilt had grown due to a series of things, but the majority of it came from the decisions I made and the decisions I couldn't make. I put him through situations I never saw myself doing - an unstable relationship with lots of arguing, exposing him to situations and people he should've never been exposed to, like toxic friendships and others with bad character. The list of things I couldn't do for him grew longer and longer every day.

With a host of other events, my drowning mental health and my small circle of "friends and family," my Mt. Everest-sized guilt piled higher and higher as the years went by. I began feeling guilty because of the decisions I made, even if they were the right choice at that time. I felt guilty about my own growing decisions and for wanting certain people and things, and then I started to feel guilty about feeling guilty.

Although I knew this wasn't productive, it consumed me and forced me to put unrealistic expectations on him and affected the way that I felt about myself. I'm still working on myself today, and I'm not perfect by any means, but instead of taking on a negative view of my parenting, I reframe my thoughts and tell myself this:

1. I am doing the best I can and that’s ok.

2. My son is growing in his own trajectory and that’s all that matters.

3. Parenting is hard and no one has all the answers.

4. Every child is different. What works for one kid may not work for the other and that’s ok.

From one momma to another, don’t let your guilt deter you from trying your best. It took me a while to realize this but now that I do, I’ll repeat it to you:

YOU are doing great! You don’t have all the answers when they’re toddlers and you won’t have all the answers when they’re pre-teens and I’d imagine you won’t get them all when they’re adults. You will never have all the answers but what you will have, is experiences and wisdom. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and love yourself and your child through it all.

Mom guilt will never go away, it’s something that comes with the territory of motherhood but there is something that can be done: Remember that you are doing your best, love yourself, love your child, forgive yourself and remember that your child is growing in their own trajectory.

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