When the Mom Guilt Sets In


I lay in bed listening to the sounds of my husband’s deep breaths, indicating he was sound asleep. But I was wide awake. My mind was racing, and I kept hearing that voice in my head.  

The voice just kept whispering it was all my fault. Tears welled in my eyes and began to roll down my cheeks as I let the guilt wash over me.

I knew I shouldn’t give in to the guilt and tried to push it back, but it was there and it was rearing its ugly head. 

My son struggles with anxiety. Just like I do. Most days are good. He seems like any other normal kid. But then the worry and fear start to creep in. He’ll tell me he has a stomachache. Then maybe it’s that he’s afraid someone’s going to break into our house. Sometimes it’s that he’s scared my husband and I will die and leave him and his brother all alone. Other times it’s a “smaller” fear like being afraid of a cartoon character on TV.

No matter what it is, it’s always there. 

It breaks my heart to hear him say those words and see him suffering. I know how it feels. I understand his struggle because it’s my daily struggle, too. That nervous feeling in your gut that creeps in and you just wish it would go away. Irrational thoughts that take over and just get worse and worse. The panic attacks that sneak up on you out of nowhere. It’s a real struggle, and it’s a painful one.

His counselor told me one session that anxiety and depression can be hereditary. That made perfect sense to me since my father suffered from depression when I was growing up. He had it and now I have anxiety and so does my son.

It’s no surprise that the mom guilt then came rolling in like it did. 

Each time my son tells me he has a tummy ache or that he’s afraid of something, I feel like it’s my fault.

I lay awake in bed at night praying for God to take the anxiety from him and give it to me. I’d much rather take all that anxiety on me than see him suffer. I’m an adult who can take medication to help calm my out of control thoughts. He’s just an 8-year-old trying to use coping strategies. 

I know I shouldn’t let the guilt control me; that it’s not all my fault. After all, the counselor said it can be genetic but that sometimes it’s not. Still, that’s not how it feels. It feels like it’s my fault; like it’s my fault my child is anxious each day. It’s my fault all those thoughts creep and crawl into his mind each day and make him uncomfortable. And it’s my fault he gets so worried and sad. 

And there it is. That mom guilt we all know so well. Whether it’s guilt over what we’re feeding our kids, guilt over not living near family, or guilt over passing on a medical condition, that mom guilt is always there.

When does it end? Does the mom guilt ever go away? Will I ever learn to kick it to the curb? I don’t know, but I sure hope so.

But for now, this is where I live.

What do you do when mom guilt sets in? How do you cope?