11 Jan Still Fighting Mom Guilt: A Recycled Post
Last week, the day after we arrived in Ventura, I took all the kids to Target to buy a million and one things. Somewhere in between the granola bars and dry-erase markers, my children began to misbehave. Knowing this would be a challenging outing for them, I’d even offered an incentive ahead of time. It hadn’t helped. Some of my offspring were falling apart. More importantly, I was not handling it well. I was hot, overwhelmed, irritated. Why can’t they just cooperate, after all? Don’t they understand this takes so much longer when they disobey?
Then I spotted her. Perfect hair. Perfect clothes. Perfect face. Unruffled. You all know her–that perfect mom. She calmly said her children’s names and they, of course, came cheerfully. Immediately.
Guilt showed up again. I am not that perfect mom. I thought I’d accepted this. I thought I was okay with being un-put-together, with my kids being a bit rag-tag. But here I was, accepting the label of “inferior.” Agreeing with it, even though nobody had said it aloud.
I decided to write a post about it. I thought I might include a link to this amazing podcast I listened to recently. But then I remembered a post I’d written a few years ago. I read through it and wept. So, here it is. I think it’s worth revisiting.
My girl arrived home from school and the badgering began.
“When are you going to send that form in? There are only two other people in my class who haven’t sent it in yet. You have to do it by Friday, Mom!”
“Honey, it’s only Tuesday. I’ll get to it.”
We went back and forth for a minute or two. Me, just needing five minutes of quiet to sit down and think about the order form (in my view, the least important of the thousand things calling for five minutes of my time). Her, wanting to be heard, wanting me to see how crucial this was—to not be the last one. To not be the one whose mom doesn’t care. Then she said it.
“I really don’t think you love me!”
There it is.
I’ve failed. Again.
There are many, many things I love about being a mother. I love middle of the night nursing and newborn snuggles. I love little arms around my neck and sloppy kisses on my cheeks. I love reading books and singing songs. Looking deep into my children’s eyes as they share what’s important to them. I love watching their talents blossom right in front of me. Seeing them express themselves and become individuals. The kid who’s always loved to sing in front of a crowd gets the lead part in the musical? I love that! The budding artist learning to sketch from a photograph? I love that, too! Truth be told, I really love sitting with another mom and drinking coffee while our kids tear the house apart. I even love a good challenge—when I have to discipline, and I ask for wisdom, and He delivers. So many facets to this life. Full and messy and good.
But when I launched into motherhood nine years ago, I did not know I would have a dark, slinky companion with me much of the time. I do not love him. In fact, I hate him. I hate Guilt.
I’m only one paltry human being, trying to do the best I can. My sinful nature gets the upper hand so often. I’m selfish. I get mad. Or I want to be alone. Then Guilt shows up, right by my elbow . . . it seems he’s the height of a child. Guilt reminds me how I’ve failed. He whispers that I’m too broken for this, I have my priorities all wrong, my kids don’t feel my love, they’d be better off without me. He tells me when they grow up they won’t forgive my shortcomings. They’ll need years of therapy to undo the damage I’ve done.
You know what? I’m sick of Guilt. I don’t want to listen to his lies anymore.
I can’t see the future. I pray the good I do outweighs the damage. I hope they grow into wonderful adults who can see me as the whole, imperfect person I am and love me still. I can’t mother perfectly because I am broken, but my brokenness is covered by the blood of the Lamb. If I lay it at His feet, an unthinkable thing happens. He uses it. I can roll up my sleeves, do this job, and trust Him to redeem my failures.
So let’s send Guilt back where he belongs and let’s live out our redemption. Not perfect mothers, any of us. But sanctified. Empowered.
Somehow, I didn’t fall apart when she said that to me. (I waited until I wrote this post for that.) I did let her know that being the last one to hand in a form does not mean your mother doesn’t love you. Maybe all she needed was a hug and for me to listen for a while without distraction. Most of the time, that’s all she’s asking for. I want to give my children what they need. But when I don’t, I need to remember that grace is big enough to pick up my slack.
And that dark companion, Guilt, isn’t allowed to slink around me anymore.
|Photo Credit: April Olivia Roskos|