Why Mom Guilt Is Biological


I had a bit of heartache leading up to the weekend away I just took in Amsterdam with a handful of girlfriends.  I worried about the timing with Bodie having just started a new playgroup, I regretted the expense and generally felt heavy about four days away from my husband and baby when the time as the three of us is so precious.  

That said, once I was past security and running to the boarding queue, I started having the fun you would expect anyone to have when they get to go abroad with their girlfriends.  One of the several upsides of traveling as a solo adult without a baby and all their baggage is the ability to read on flights.  I cranked through two books I'd started and never finished over the past months.  One of them being "The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck".  If you can get past the not so occasional crassness, the book is enlightening, which is a separate post in and of itself.  The insight that stuck while I reconciled my guilt with the pleasure of being with friends, was that emotion is a biological evolution among humans that drives us to be more efficient at surviving and baby making.  

I took from that that my guilt, which is mostly temporary and mild, makes me more considerate of my choices. Had I not felt the weight of emotion before I left and intermittently during my trip, I would be apt to do this all the time. Who wouldn't want to wake at noon and wander along canals between long lunches and dinners in pretty places?  I'll answer that for you - anyone who has kids at home and a family to be financially responsible for.  

The Subtle Art would add that this isn't to say I should never do things that feel a bit selfish or make choices that come with a dose of guilt.  He would say that guilt is normal and expected and that to think we can manage through motherhood without a bit of it is a fantasy.  His thesis is that we should get better at holding the inevitable not so good feelings (i.e. guilt) and better yet, use them as guide posts to reflect and make sure we're doing right by ourselves and our families.   My two cents is that "mom guilt" which is a common cultural conversation in the context of making room for work, marriage and yourself outside of motherhood is just a biological reminder that you have a little one at home and life is a bit different and that whatever you're doing should be worth it and ultimately contribute to your survival and family.  

Anyone who has chosen full time work, part-time work, a bit of help if they're a stay at home mother or just a moment of indulgence outside of tending to work or family, can then re-frame the guilt as a biological evolution to keep them connected to their babies.  The thing about biology is that it doesn't account for all of the complexities beyond the basic instincts.  So, we get to choose when to override that natural tug in favor of some care for ourselves in ultimately, an effort to be a better mother and partner.  

Have you read The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck? Does this resonate?  What would you add or argue? Would love to hear. xo

Featured Image via Amelia Jones