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“To those who may be new to the business of maternal regret: you’ll have to give it up, I think, eventually—if only to calm the gentle friends telling you that no, no, you did the best you could, no one could have seen this coming, you were a great mother. It won’t be an easy surrender. In the first place, forget “great.” Try saying just this, right out loud: “I’m a good mother.” Never mind that you stumble, that you want to change the word “good” to “adequate,” or “not too bad,” or “better than my own mom, anyway.” That you itch to slip in at least a “maybe” or a “sometimes.” Dilute the statement as your shame requires—but only in your mind, and no longer aloud. You’re trying to soothe people, after all.

“Nonetheless, you really will let it go, eventually. I don’t mean the guilt, necessarily. No, for all you know, the guilt will always ebb and flow, in accordance with lunar whim. You’ll get used to it. But what you will surrender, eventually, is the notion that your guilt makes you exceptional. You’ll discover, in fact, that it reveals you merely as a member of a beautiful, fallible, self-lacerating tribe. After all, when in your life have you met any woman willing to admit she’s a good mother?”

–excerpted from my memoir, The Myth of Solid Ground