“You do not have to clean like your mother.”
I held the wrapper before me and burst into laughter. As I savored the Dove chocolate and reflected on the promise inside, I realized how true it was. We do not have to be anyone other than ourselves, and yet so often our self-talk tells us we’re not enough.
We tell ourselves if we were better moms, our kids wouldn’t bicker over petty things. A whisper says if we managed our time better, we would stay on top of the endless pile of laundry.
Maybe my perfectionist nature makes me more prone to those feelings than most, but the longer I mother, the more I see that I’m not alone.
The mom guilt needs to stop.
The next time you want to enjoy a movie with your girlfriends or break the spine of a new book, the guilt may lie to you and keep you from enjoying it. And when it does, remember to ask yourself these questions:
- Is this coming from God? One sure way to test and approve whether something is of God is to look into scripture. The Holy Spirit may convict you, but he will never condemn you. If you’re feeling like you’re worthless or as though you can never get it together, those thoughts are not of God. You are his chosen child, and he loves you more than you can imagine.
- Am I harming my kids? Whether it be spiritually, emotionally, or physically, ask yourself if what you’re doing is endangering your kids in any way. I have met women who feel guilty for taking a night to themselves, but they are not harming their kids in any way by doing so. In fact, our kids are better off when they see that their parents lead balanced, healthy lives and know that they’re not the center of the universe.
- Is this helping my well-being? Women who nourish their own lives make better moms, period. It took me a long time to realize it, but when I take time for myself, I mother more effectively. When I am burnt out, tired, and depleted of any mental stimulation, my fuse becomes short. I yell more often, say things I regret, and apologize more than any mom should.
- What am I afraid of? Often, guilt is also mixed with fear. We are afraid of letting down those we love. We desperately want to please them and falsely believe that the slightest misstep will backfire into something ugly. Most of the time, these thoughts couldn’t be further from the truth. When we are loved, our family and friends want the very best for us and see past our faults to the person within.
- Do I see my kids as separate from myself? Sometimes every negative behavior we see from our kids elicits feelings of shame or guilt. We believe we are somehow responsible, and if we were better moms our kids would not be acting this way. Thinking this way is not only completely unrealistic, but detrimental to our emotional health. Our kids are separate human beings who will make their own decisions, which are sometimes good and other times bad. Correct the behavior and move forward.
Friend, if you’re struggling with mom shame or guilt today can I come alongside of you and tell you you’re not alone? And now, can we pledge to do something about it?
Jesus never intended us to carry the burden of constant guilt on our shoulders. He came to set us free. He came that we may have life to the full.
Let’s embrace the blessings we’ve been given and live in the victory that’s already ours.