Using Nature to Address “Mom Guilt” a.k.a. Shame

“Mom guilt” is not an uncommon phrase and experience for new and experienced mothers.  You might be thinking, “I don’t need another commentary to tell me why I shouldn’t feel guilty,” and want to click away.  No offense taken.

I was writing this post to address “mom guilt,” and then I remembered what one of my idols, Brene Brown says when comparing the definitions of shame and guilt.  Guilt is I did something bad.  Shame is I am bad.  You can watch the quick video here:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqGFrId-IQg]

As a social worker, I am attracted to learning about how to improve myself and find peace with the uncomfortable aspects of life.  As a Minnesota born person who avoids conflict, I still suck at it.  I am writing this blog to encourage parents everywhere to stop labeling things as guilt when we really feel shame.  I want to share my vulnerability and shed light into how I am using nature to re-connect with myself.

My Manifestations of Shame

  • I am a working mom = I am not a good mom = SHAME
    • I like having a job.
    • I like being able to have conversations with adults that is not interrupted every 10 seconds.
    • It is not always easy to “turn-off” the work stress and thoughts when I transition from work to home, leaving me distracted.
  • My husband is a stay at home dad, which is one of the many reasons he is the “preferred parent” = I am not worthy of my daughter’s love = SHAME
    • What this means is that anytime she is needs love and affection physically, emotionally & mentally she wants daddy only and runs from me to him.
    • When it is my night to put her to sleep she literally screams for her dad, because she doesn’t want me.
    • She and I get into more arguments because I don’t fully understand her and am “behind the ball” in catching with up her development, on a daily/hourly basis.
    • It often means that after work each day, my husband relays new developments and preferences she has to increase my understand of her. While this is similar to what a day-care provider would do, it leaves me feeling like more of a babysitter than her parent.
  • The “do-it-all” mom is the role my mother modeled = I am never enough = SHAME
    • While my father loves his children, he was running his business and wasn’t there.
    • My mom did everything, cooking, cleaning, attending all school & extra-curricular events while really being the one who did the behind the scenes work as admin for my dad’s business.
    • When she felt stressed, exhausted and over-worked, she didn’t ask for help. Like any good mid-westerner, she buried her feelings and pushed through.  Let’s just say, we often end up more like our parents than different from them.

These thoughts and experiences have led me to do the following:

  • Spend 100% of my non-working time as the caretaker for our daughter, giving my husband a break, but not taking one for myself.
  • Lash out at my husband when my self-acceptance and patience is wearing thin.
  • Be exhausted at work because I haven’t taken the time to reflect and recharge.
  • I am sure the list goes on and would welcome for any of you to share how shame has affected you.

  How to use nature to heal from mom

Healing through Nature

As a colleague shares, “there is no hiding whom you are when you are cold, wet, tired, and hungry.”  In the last year my goal has been to spend more time in nature with my daughter.  While I don’t aim to get her cold, wet, tired, and hungry, I do notice my entire internal dialogue changes.

  • The “I am not a good mom,” shifts to “I did something great for us today!”
  • The “I am not worthy of my daughter’s love,” shifts to me showing my inner self and she says, “I love you” more frequently showering me with hugs and cuddles.
  • The “I am never enough,” shifts to “I am enough because I am part of the natural world.”

The value of the Go Adventure Mom community is a place to truly create a tribe of parents who refuse to be indoorsy.  Whether you joined for gear recommendations and/or deep connections with other adventure moms, we can use this tribe to share how we show up in nature for ourselves and our children.

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