Every Mom Feeling Guilty Right Now Needs to Hear Mia Freedman's Message

Today, Spring.St's founder and creative director Mia Freedman put up a message that struck a chord. She's just released a book. She's touring to promote it. And, to put it mildly, there's a lot on her plate.

Something was always going to fall through the cracks—and even though her situation is a personal one, every working mom knows the guilt that comes with having to put anything to do with their child on hold.

"So today I missed the Mother's Day breakfast at my youngest son's school. I was in another state, promoting the book that I've worked really, really hard on for a year. The timing was unfortunate but there was nothing I could do. It was released last week, the promotional tour is now and I've been really excited to have this book out there in the world. I'm eager to do everything I can to make sure people know about it—including traveling around to different cities for events and interviews.

"This is the part where I tell you that I've never missed one of the Mother's Day school breakfasts for my three kids but I'm not totally sure that's true. I know I've done everything I could to be at all of them but I doubt I have a 100 percent strike rate. I do my best. We all do our best. Today I had to work.

"The irony of being on a book tour to promote a book called while missing my youngest son's school function is not lost on me. In fact it's not even irony. It's just life. It's why I wrote my book.

"I believe it's not always a bad thing for us to disappoint our kids sometimes. Not when they really really need us—emotionally or physically—but when it's just not possible to be two places at once or give them our full attention.

"It might be work that needs us or their sibling or our partner or our own parent or our mental health.

"Life is full of disappointment and frustration and part of parenting is teaching your kids how to cope with negative emotions and set backs. Nobody gets what they want all the time. Disappointment builds resilience (I remind myself of this every time I fuck up as a parent).

"It's not that I didn't feel bad today but after 20 years, the emotion was pretty fleeting. I'm far less hard on myself as a mother than I once was.

"Try this: Kids or not, next time you're beating yourself up for something you did (or forgot to do or did badly) as a woman (men so rarely bash themselves with the guilt stick), imagine it was one of your close girlfriends who had done the same thing and was telling you about it. Would you tell her she was hopeless? A failure? Damaging her kids or her life irreparably? You wouldn't (unless you're a shitty friend). You would reassure her that it will be fine and that she's a good mom/sister/daughter/friend/human and she needs to be kinder to herself.

"Tip: Try talking to yourself in the same way and extending some of that kindness inwards.

"On the way to the airport to fly home this afternoon, I called my son at home to see how the breakfast went. 'Hey, did you have fun with your friends anyway?' I asked. 'Yeah, it was great,' he said.

"'Were any of the other moms not there?' I ventured with hope in my heart. 'Oh, so many,' he said and reeled off the names of half a dozen of his mates before telling me about the food they got to eat and how fun it was to cruise around in a little gang.

You should have seen me high five myself in the heart.

Onwards. Because balance is bullshit. We're all just doing our best.

Every mom knows this. But it's something that can't be talked about enough, because the pressure is still there, even if we're putting it on ourselves.

"I've been beating myself up because I'm missing one of the daycare events on this month," one commenter wrote. "But I know deep down that surely other working moms surely would struggle to even be able to get to one of them!"

"Needed this one today," wrote another. "New job with longer hours coming up and terrified of 'dropping the ball' as a parent. I actually haven't missed anything yet (oldest is only year two) and I'm positive missing stuff is on its way and I hate the idea of disappointing my three girls but nice to know all moms feel it."

As someone else pointed out, your kids often don't remember this stuff anyway. "Sometime later they'll fixate on something so random it'll take your breath away, so relax and follow your path."

Because the thing that matters, as Freedman points out, is how well you equip them to deal with what comes later.

"If we gave our kids everything they ever wanted, or did everything perfectly they'd never feel disappointment and subsequently never learn resilience," another commented. "As long as our kids are comfortable knowing we love them then that's all that matters."


Mia Freedman's book, Work Strife Balance, is out now in Australia through Macmillan, and is available to order here online.