The Guilt Free Guide to Motherhood: Trusting yourself as a mother, through pregnancy and the baby years.
Sometimes I feel like I’m not living up to my idea of what makes a good mom. My kids don’t like school and cry when I drop them off. Sometimes they go to daycare after school- meaning a 10 hour day for them. I’m a work from home mom. Sometimes they watch hours of television while I work or cook, etc. Sometimes I yell. I don’t have enough patience. I wish I liked motherhood more. They are nearly four years old but still have to sleep next to me. I feel bad for not paying as much attention to each of my kids. I basically HEAP the guilt on myself for all of these things and more. Much more. Which is why I picked up this book.
Obviously, years of pathological, self-imposed guilt-trips cannot be changed overnight, no matter how many memes on Instagram I see or books on guilt-free motherhood I read. The brain is like a muscle. If I want to change how it works it takes a lot of practice and self-forgiveness. This is why you should read this book. Not because it will change you overnight, but because reading it is a good work out for your guilt-ridden mom brain, slowly helping to re-program how you see yourself.
How long does it take to read?
This is always the first question because I just don’t have the time to do anything anymore. Also, I feel like I should be doing something more useful. (ah! Again with the guilt!) This book took me roughly 7 hours to read. I read it over 4 days, and the beauty of it is that I checked two boxes at once: I did something I like to do (reading a good book), AND I am doing something useful for my family by addressing my feelings of guilt. It’s the guilt-free guide to guilt-free motherhood!
Who should read this book:
Moms, both expecting or experienced, but also dads and expecting dads who would like an insight into what motherhood looks like and to better understand their partners and the changes that occur.
I can see this being particularly useful during the first year after the birth of your first child, though I have three children and found this book incredibly comforting and timely. The parts on pregnancy and childbirth would be useful to expecting parents as well. It’d be great to reassure them and set them up to be kind to each other and anticipate a lot of possible issues. Though as she says in the book there’s really nothing that can prepare someone for the reality of parenthood as it will be different for us all.
So basically, what is this book about?
This book doesn’t spout ideology, or make you feel bad for choosing a certain way to raise your child. It is 100% reassurance and love and validation. The author interviewed a group of women with children 3-23 months old on the many challenges of motherhood, such as what we think makes a good mom, childbirth, the feelings/emotions we encounter after having a baby, sleep deprivation, the parenting learning curve, emotional and mental health, dealing with the should-I-go-back-to-work-or-not debate, and more.
The best part about this book is that she addresses the challenges many of us face, in a way that allows us to let go of our guilt. This book touches on so many things but the overarching theme is about loving, accepting, and trusting oneself. It’s about treating ourselves with kindness and realizing that dealing with who we are, who our child is, and our specific set of life circumstances means that there really is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to raise your child. There is only adaptation.
“Motherhood is not a self-sufficiency competition. It is about managing long-term in the best way that we can.” Kindle Location 683
“What is important is that we feed our babies, full stop. The how of it is actually a woman’s choice and there are so many factors involved that we can’t apply generalizations about what is right or wrong to individual women.” Kindle Location 946
When you feel guilt, ask yourself if it was a mistake (can I learn something?) or simply a choice. If it’s a choice, instead of feeling bad, “we can congratulate ourselves for how much we consider our little ones and their needs.” Kindle Location 1542
“If we are looking for a ‘right way’ to be a mother then feeling guilt is inevitable because there just isn’t one.” Kindle Location 1532
“What I was struck by was not the right or wrong of working versus staying at home, but rather how amazing we are at adapting to what is needed. As women we can be very creative in our ability to adjust to the demands of family life, finding spaces to meet both our family’s and our own needs.” Kindle Location 1957
Toyne, Kirsten. 2016. The Guilt-Free Guide to Motherhood. Kirsten Toyne. Kindle.