Sunday, January 22, 2012

Moms, Guilt, etc.

Jeanette over at Baileyandme recently posted a wonderful piece about guilt and condemnation and Romans 8 that you should go read.

What caught my eye the most was the part about "mom guilt."

As in, moms feeling guilty not your mom making you feel guilty, a worthy subject of its own. I am an expert at mom-guilt, and my sister Rebecca and I used to sit up late and tell guilt stories, which Paul thought was really a waste of our precious time together. But we both needed the sympathy.

Here's an excerpt:

Mom guilt anyone? I am going to be completely honest. Sometimes mom guilt almost completely eats me alive. I still remember before I had children (and was wanting them badly) I heard a Focus on the Family program about that very thing- Mom Guilt. My mouth was just kinda hanging open. I didn`t have children- I had no idea this monster was out there. I thought about that program for DAYS after- and just chewed on it in my head.

And then I had two (thank you, JESUS.) And ever since then, MG has kinda hung out with me.

Here is how it manifests itself for me. It`s Monday- everyone/everything needs me. The house is all piled up with work. My calendar looks full for this week. So MUCH on my mind. . . Well, the girls are going to be knee deep in playdough, movies, and art projects on the table for today. My girls are almost-3 and 4, and they can go “auto- pilot” pretty easily actually. They are happy mostly- it kinda works.

We go this route for 2 maybe 3 days, and I am axing things off my mental “to do” list.

On day 3, once life has slowed down for the week, any of the following could happen: I am inspired/condemned by all the “do it with your kids” pins on Pinterest. Someone in my Facebook feed really goes out of their way and does something amazing with their children. I dwell on the fact that teaching is not my gift. I am horrified by a sad story of a homelife of someone else- fear grips me- I think, what if that happens to us if I don`t Quality Time my girls enough. I read a Bible passage, and it condemns me- not convicts me. I let MomTalk make me feel failing. I feel too tired (I have nothing left to give) to read stories, and dream of being a better me.

Then that night, resting festering in bed- I let MG take over. I feel condemned for my weaknesses and any TINY fault I see in my girls I think.

Have I made them this way with my dysfunctional, human ways?

There's a lot more. You can go read it.

From the comments it was obvious she had struck a nerve. Three examples:

I so resonate with this post – sometimes the things that I know I should be improving in/doing better as a mom are so overwhelming that i feel like I need to bury those thoughts in computer/fun things/etc… just to get away from feeling like such a failure.

I struggle SO BAD with mommy guilt.

Mom guilt and I seem to have a never ending battle…. it’s so hard when I feel like I give give give of everything in me but its somehow never enough and everyday I pray for the wisdom and strength for today and yet at the end of the day it seems to have eluded me.

This is a subject that is dear to my heart. So I summarized my thoughts in a comment of my own:

As an “older” mom I understand every word you say and yet I wish so bad I could make it easier for younger moms.
If I could say one thing to all the young moms out there and myself as a young mom it’s GIVE YOURSELF SOME CREDIT. My stars. It’s the toughest job on earth, and so anonymous, and doesn’t pay a penny, and has no value in our society, and yet there you are, showing up every day, not getting enough sleep, fighting pregnancy problems and sickness, like Carmen up there, and making sure these children are taken care of.
I never “got” this until I saw orphans in Africa. A child with no mom is one of the most heartbreaking sights I’ve ever seen. You look in their eyes and oh my goodness, the empty empty deep deep sadness….and every one of them would give their right hand to have the most flawed, imperfect mom among us.
So yes, pursue Jesus and joy, definitely, but also tell yourself, “I am getting out of bed even though I desperately need sleep. I am feeding my babies once again. They will be fed and safe and loved on my watch. I am not running away. I get up every day and face this. I am doing what I’m called to do. I am a tough and amazing woman.”
If I saw your children’s eyes, they would not look like orphan eyes. They would look like the eyes of children with mommies. I’m sure of it.
My daughter takes care of Jamaican orphans. She came home for Christmas and was amazed at how little kids at church run around TALKING. Little Jamaican kids at the orphanage don’t talk because no one talks to them.
I’ll bet your little kids talk too.
See? You’re their mom. You show up. You’re there. And it shows.

Some time ago I gave a talk on this theme, entitled, "Calm Down; It'll Be Ok." I probably had more of a positive, heart-deep reaction to it than to any talk I've given before or since. Some said it was the first time they'd heard a talk for moms that affirmed them and didn't make them feel like they'll never measure up to the ideal.

So I have made it a goal to affirm young moms in what they're doing.


Last week Paul and I were in the grocery store and we ran into a neighbor/shirttail-relative and got to chatting. He talked about what a blessing it is to see his children grown up and doing well and living close by, and then he said to me, "I read your articles, and it seems like you worry about your children, and I think you probably don't give yourself enough credit for the job you're doing with them."

Somehow that was just what I needed.

I guess it's not just young moms that need encouragement and need to be told to give themselves credit for showing up and getting the job done.

Quote of the Day:
[from last November]
Me: I have a talk this afternoon.
Jenny: Where at?
Me: A synogogue!
Jenny: A Jewish one??


  1. Linda Stoltzfus1/23/2012 3:41 AM

    Wow! Your comments to mothers really encouraged me this morning. I shared them with my facebook mother/friends who are in the trenches as well. Thank you for sharing that encouragement. It went straight to my heart!

  2. Thanks. Mine are 15 and 12 and mom guilt definitely plagues me at times. I'm going to go share this on Facebook because I want my mom-of-little-ones friends to see this!!!

  3. Thank you. Except that now I want to cry and that's not so wonderful. :-) Mine are 13 & 16 & I just SO feel like I'm missing "it" as it quickly slips through my fingers! But still I can't figure out how to morph into SuperMom. :-/ (I definitely give myself little credit ... who knows why!) Bless you for sharing!

  4. Thank you! What wonderful and encouraging words to start my day with (after the Bible of course). My little ones are 8, 7, 5 and 20 months. I needed this affirmation! I appreciate you sharing this and your advice to young moms.

  5. You said it very well. Thanks, from a grandma.

  6. I'm stunned to hear so many moms feeling this way, and to discover that it's so common that it even has a name!!

    How is it possible that I've been a mom for almost 20 years and didn't know??

    So...does anyone else toss and turn all night, heartsick with regret for being impatient or short-tempered with your children, only to drag yourself out of bed in the morning sooo tired that you struggle with impatience and irritability?


  7. I've followed your blog for a long time now, but have never commented before. I wanted to thank you for the message that I needed to hear today. Your message about the orphans in African and Jamaica made me realize that my children really are lucky to have me (and their wonderful daddy) in their lives. I have a three year old with autism and a one year old and some days when my patience wears thin (or wears out, on occasion) I feel like such a wretched mother. So thanks for the gentle reminder that all will be well.

  8. I never decorated my children's rooms - feel guilt here as well!

  9. Let me take this opportunity to thank you! My thanks to you and to every mom on the planet that does their best to raise loved and nurtured children that will grow up knowing how to love and nurture others. You do so much more than just show up, and it makes a big difference in the lives of each child. Your gift extends beyond your family to the community and the whole planet. How different our world would be if every child could have such a mother (and father). Thank you for your gift.

  10. I'm not a mom, but you gave me a huge gift when we were talking about writing, and you told me that it's ok to mess up. Thanks for that!

  11. Thanks, everyone. Anonymous, I think we all have our nights of being heartsick with regret. We all need encouragement and affirmation.
    Anita--thanks for your precious words as well.

  12. How did I miss this post?? Oh. Maybe I was being a Mom. This strikes a very deep chord in my life. Beautiful!