“My name is Jayda Ivy Swim. I’m 24 years old, a single mother of two-year old twin boys in the US Virgin Islands, and I’m a nursing student in my senior year. I don’t know if I’m really ready to tell my ‘story’ because in my opinion it’s still such a work in progress.
One thing I’ve overcome, but is still a battle every single day, is known as ‘Mom guilt.’
I became a single mother in the middle of my degree, one of the hardest bachelor’s degrees with the most work, exams, and clinical hours. And I have not one, but two precious babies. At first, my ex and I didn’t quite do co-parenting right and it’s still a daily struggle to get on the same page, but I’m grateful for the lessons and the independence I’ve found.
My faith has quadrupled and I was actually baptized with my sons. It was an incredible experience where all three of us were dunked together in the ocean by our pastor on Easter morning. I’ve found beauty in the pain. The part every mother — whether single, married, planning to have kids, or have kids who are already grown up and moved away — seems to experience is the guilt that consumes you when you just want to get it ‘right.’
First of all, can we just remove the word ‘should’ from our vocabulary? Someone call Webster’s and tell them it’s time to just get rid of the word altogether. It’s not doing us any good. Either we are or we aren’t or we can or we can’t, but we shouldn’t be anything. It took me almost two and a half years to realize I’m enough. What a liberating feeling.
For me, mom guilt is not enough time with my boys, not always being present, being exhausted, comparing myself, and taking inventory on what I’m able and unable to provide. Social media has a large role to play, between fear of what I post, mom shaming, and the beautiful art of comparison.
I always want to post the absolute best. I want to be an inspiration for other mothers and I kind of beat myself up when I get things wrong. Basically the definition of mom guilt. The other day I caught myself buying fruit snacks for my sons (not something I usually buy as I’m trying to do my best to keep them healthy, but I gave in). My son immediately pointed out the organic fruit snacks after I had grabbed the regular ones. So I had to decide between $6.99 for 40 or $9.99 for 24. Me, being a frugal single mom, still bought the organic ones because my mom taught me if it’s a choice between healthy and cheap, you’ll never regret giving your kids the best. Later on, when I snapped a picture of them in our grocery cart, I was so grateful I grabbed the organic ones because I may not have posted the picture out of guilt for being a ‘bad mom’ for feeding my kids unhealthy snacks. Mom guilt.
Social media certainly opens the doors for mom shaming! Sometimes it comes in the form of a lesson, but other times it’s comments or gossip to other moms in my friend group. ‘Can you believe she feeds her kids all-purpose flour? That stuff is poison!’ I’ve gotten all kinds of judgment from other mothers and even messages from men who are younger than me who barely even know me. They especially criticize the fact I’m a single mom. So many people love to ask me why I want to raise my kids alone, as if it were something I had inflicted on my children single-handedly. Mom shaming really doesn’t help mothers feel less guilt. Once you feel judgment, you feel the guilt. Mom guilt.
On the other hand, there’s the art of comparison that social media introduces. When my mom friend is posting her Pinterest-worthy child development milestone and my pile of laundry is just about to reach the ceiling, there’s a guilt that burns like a furnace inside me. I feel guilty that I need to do chores, can’t find a new game to introduce to my kids, or have fun with them playing with chalk. It reminds me how much easier everything would be if I had a maid and a chef on payroll to give me more time with my sons. But I don’t. So me, myself, and I get to drain my entire body of all the energy possible to keep up with the laundry, dishes, dirty floors, and potty accidents every single day, and I use my leftover energy to print out some cool Pinterest ideas. Sigh, Mom guilt.
In all seriousness, though, my sons are my priority. I always want to do my best and that feeling of being ‘subpar’ as a parent — the most important job you’ll ever have — is sometimes overwhelming. It’s a negative feeling that I can’t even describe. I have to be the best me I can be every single day. I never get sick days, a 5-minute break to cool off, or even privacy during a shower! I’m very in touch with the fact if I’m spread too thin I can’t be who my kids need me to be. They come before my studies, my health, and my finances. They win every battle. But even then, I still can’t always be and do everything. AND THAT’S OK! That’s what I want you to take from this. IT’S OK to need time for yourself. When a mother takes time for self-care, she’s replenishing her spirit to give more to her children. You cannot pour from an empty cup. The more you give yourself, then the more you have to give. And with that, there’s less of a burden to carry and less mom guilt you’ll have to feel.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jayda Ivy of the U.S. Virgin Islands. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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