Danielle Fishel Pens a Candid Essay About How Mom Guilt Took Her By Surprise

Boy Meets World star Danielle Fishel looked forward to being a mother her whole life. But when she gave birth to her son, Adler, she didn’t expect what came next: mom guilt. 

The 38-year-old actress opened up about her experience in a candid essay for Good Morning America.

Before welcoming her son, Fishel was vaguely familiar with the idea of mom guilt: “I heard it was the awful feeling you’re never doing what you’re supposed to be doing, or not doing enough of what you should be doing, or not doing what you should be doing well enough,” she wrote.

Fishel says she saw women around her making sacrifices for their children and wondered, “What was there to feel guilty about?” She went on to write, “Naively, and perhaps arrogantly, I thought, ‘I’ll never let myself have mom guilt.’ Then I had a baby.”

She and her husband, comedian Jensen Karp, welcomed their son four weeks early after learning he had fluid in his lungs. The Girl Meets World star had planned for a drug-free, natural birth, but all that went out the window when her amniotic fluid began decreasing and she was induced.

The actress says she couldn’t help but wonder if she’d done something to harm her baby. The feeling only worsened when Adler was placed in the neonatal unit and had to drink breast milk through a feeding tube.

Sadly, ten days later, the breast milk caused more fluid to build up in his lungs and he was rushed by ambulance to Children’s Hospital and put on formula. With that scare came another round of mom guilt for Fishel, who worried that he might be allergic to her and fretted that formula wasn’t as nutritious for him. She was eventually able to feed him again when he was about 6 weeks old, but it wasn’t long before he had another reaction to breast milk and had to be put back on formula.

“I was, quite honestly, an emotional wreck,” Fishel admitted, adding that her eventual return to work on Sydney to the Max compounded her guilt even more.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of being a mom. I looked forward to sleepless nights, poopy diapers and being so enamored with my baby that I lost hours of my life just staring at him while he slept. However, nothing in the world could have prepared me for the reality that being a mom would also mean never feeling like I’m good enough,” she said. “None of us escape mom-guilt. It’s there whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or work outside the house, but one there is one thing I know for certain each and every mother has in common: We are trying our absolute best 100 percent of the time.”

Fishel concluded by saying that it’s important to remember that each mother’s journey into parenthood is different and you never know what’s going on behind the scenes.

She ended her essay with a plea: “So please, do me a favor. The next time you see a mom with her baby or young child, look her in the eye and honestly tell her she’s doing an amazing job. Because you are, mama. I see you and you’re doing great.”

We can definitely do that, Danielle. 


Cat mom, yogi, brunch enthusiast

Lex is an LA native who's deeply obsessed with picnics, Slim Aarons, rosé, Hollywood history and Joan Didion. She joined PureWow in early 2017.