I walked home from the meeting with the papers in my hand, nearly slumped over under the weight of the conversation I’d just had. “According to our standards for promotion, your son is at risk for being retained in the the second grade.” He was behind in reading (again). His assessment scores were below the required level (again).
Mom guilt: the perpetual feeling in motherhood that you are not enough, are not doing enough, and are not present enough. The belief that, no matter your efforts or intentions, you are inevitably screwing up your child’s life beyond repair. The feeling any time you are doing self care, you are neglecting your child and there’s no more selfish person on the planet than you. The feeling that arises when you see accolades and achievements of other children that your children do not have.
This definition could go on for infinity.
Here is a list of a few of the things that cause me guilt on a regular basis:
Having a short temper with my kids
Giving them junk food
Going out with friends
Going out on a date
Going to work
Not eating lunch with them at school
Not liking to play dolls or sports with them (even if I do it).
Not being the room mom for all of them
Having a dirty house
Not having enough play dates
Not helping enough with homework
Helping too much with homework
Letting them watch too much tv or iPad
Not disciplining the right way
Mom Guilt: the belief that I am God in my child’s life and that everything depends on my perfection.
Mom guilt is such a pervasive feeling in our society and lives today that we barely even notice it as something out of the ordinary. No matter what we do, it’s never enough. Our kids don’t help. They are growing up in a world where there is continual instant gratification and lives that are overflowing with stuff.
So. Am I being extreme? Do I really act like God in my kids’ lives? You tell me. What is the root of this guilt? We want our kids to be happy, successful, productive, and well adjusted. What do we put our hope in to bring this desire to fruition? Well, if our hope was God we would surely not carry such a tremendous burden.
One of the problems with Mom Guilt is that it freezes me. It doesn’t motivate me to do better or push me forward. When I become consumed with the ways I’m failing, I just stop. Maybe others are different, but no matter what, actions compelled by guilt are not fruitful choices.
“For you formed my inward parts;
You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
My soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
When i was being made in secret,
Intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
In your book were written, every one of them,
The days that were formed for me,
When as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast in the sum of them!”
Psalm 139: 13-17
My husband and I struggled for two and a half years to have a baby (before He blessed us with four)! That time was agonizing and i did everything I could to have a baby. But the reality was that I would not have a baby unless God saw fit to knit one together in my womb. And he had that figured out long before I was even on this earth. As much as I tried, and as much pressure as I put on myself and my husband, I had no control over this.
Nothing has changed now that they are here.
Sure, I think I have control. And, certainly, I have responsibilities. But the lives of my children belong to the Lord. He created them for His purpose. He created them perfectly for His purpose. He has been with them from before the beginning. All their days were written before one of them came to be. We cannot even COUNT the number of thoughts He has about them (and us)!
Let these truths sink in.
WE HAVE NO CONTROL.
GOD HAS ALL OF IT.
WE DESPERATELY NEED IT TO BE THIS WAY.
Should I ever feel any negative emotions as a mom then? Well, I can’t speak for you, but the answer for me is HECK YES! (I’m kind of sure I could speak for you too, actually). When I sin against them by being selfish or cruel, I should feel conviction for my behavior and confess it both to God and them. When I let silly priorities like Facebook or something else trivial rob me of the time that I should be focusing on teaching and molding them, then I need to get that back in order. When I model fixing my eyes on the things of this world, and therefore teach my children worry and discontentment, I need to fix my gaze back on the only One who knows me and knows where I am headed. The only one who can satisfy me, strengthen me, and lead me.
But there is also something very important for me to remember:
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
When I fail, or when I’m simply choosing to live under the burden and expectations the world has placed upon me, there is no condemnation. There is forgiveness and growth and freedom.
There is hope.
Remember this today as you mother. Speak the truth back to the enemy who accuses and whispers lies. And be the voice to speak these truths to other mothers along the way. We all need to be reminded:
We are enough because He is more than enough.