Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Can We Talk About Mommy Guilt?

Pin It As an FYI, I don't really know where I'm going with this post. Just kind of typing out thoughts that are in my head.

Mommy guilt. Who deals with it? Does any mom NOT deal with it? Really?

It starts EARLY. I wasn't really bothered by having a scheduled c-section with my very first child. Then someone mentioned that I should have at least tried to avoid a c/s; that it would have been better for the baby. Guilt.

How to feed her, where to put her for sleep, put her on a schedule, let her cry it out, sippy cups, sweets ... and that's just for the baby days!

Then it's time out, telling them no, let them go to McDonald's, drink juice, drink milk, cleaning up after themselves ... toddler years covered.

Play makeup, did you read enough to them, did they have a vegetable with every meal, do they clean up after themselves, do they make their bed, are they learning their abc's and 123's, do they watch TV, and what about the carseat ... preschool years ... check.

Then it gets REALLY difficult. (As my friend Di used to say - little kids, little problems, big problems. Amen, sister.)

The thing is - where is all the guilt coming from? I mean, yes of course, if we live on McDonald's and TV, that's not good and there should be some healthy mommy guilt from that. But the other stuff? Is it really going to matter if I've decided that I don't care if my 11 year old wears mascara? Is it going to matter that we have leftover pizza and have had it for all three meals today, so unless we REALLY reach and count tomato sauce as a vegetable, we're veggie free today?

Do I have such a vision of perfection that every single thing I do that doesn't meet that vision is going to induce guilt? I can say all day long that "His grace is sufficient for me" but if I'm feeling guilty for buying white bread rather than wheat simply because I don't want to listen to kids complain, how do I make trusting in that grace REAL in my life?

What I want to know is how do I decide that I AM content with who I am and the choices I've made? And even if those choices are wrong wrong wrong, His grace is sufficient, and His forgiveness is real.

I'm just guessing that the Lord does not want me to be so crippled with guilt and afraid that I'm going to do the wrong thing that I'm almost incapable of doing anything. I seem to remember several verses about FREEDOM, which I desperately need. He came to set us FREE, to keep us out of the ruts we get into trying to cross every "t" and dot every "i" just perfectly, and the fear that if I don't do it exactly right, then I'm not good enough. The laws we set for ourselves and the guilt we carry around when we break those laws ... a whole lot of which don't even matter.

A friend told me last night that I needed to give myself permission to let go of the "I'm not good enough" and the "I'm not doing this correctly" and just be me. I suspect that if I can figure out how to do that, I'll be the ME that the Lord created me to be. I just need to figure out how to do it.

It's a hard line to walk though, because I don't want to use freedom as an excuse for laziness, ugliness, obnoxiousness. I never want to be a stumbling block to someone else. There has to be a way to do the things I know that need to be done, to extend grace to myself when I don't, to not hang on to guilt, and to rejoice and be content in myself. Lord, please help me to find it.


Devra said...

You know the part in Genesis where the Lord creates the world and then proclaims, "And it was good?"

G-d doesn't say "And it was perfect." Nowhere in Genesis does it read, "And it was Ivy League."

If good is good enough for G-d, shouldn't it be okay for parents as well? G-d's standard was "good" and this is a pefectly acceptable standard for us too. : )

The guilt comes from the fact we as parents are responsible for another human being and we take that responsibility seriously. With love comes worry. It's normal. and valid.

And you're right, we all need to ease up on ourselves and enjoy parenthood as much as possible. :)

Annette said...

A lot of the guilt comes from society putting pressure on us to produce above average children in every aspect of measure. What is wrong with average? I tend to believe this is where God intends for us to be. I read in my Bible that Jesus was born to an ordinary woman with an ordinary husband. I also read that they walked for several hours away from the temple before they realized they did not have their son. Today they would call cps on them. The hardest part is to ignore what society tells us is "right" for our lives and our children and to follow our hearts with what God is telling us. This is extremely hard considering it is broadcast to us on 400 different channels at the same time. I will pray for you and all moms that we find this peace in suffiecient amounts that we may function in today's world.

gina m said...

You know, Mel, we all feel the guilt at some time or another. Some of us feel it more intensely than others, but it's a common thread among all moms.

I call it "The Mother Load" and in fact, I wrote a sketch about it for Mother's Day a couple of years ago. We all ask ourselves the same questions, and we all wonder if we're doing a good enough job.

But here's the catch: The guilt that we feel? The insecurity and the feelings of unworthiness? They come from Satan. That sounds dramatic, but what better way to attack a woman than through the very job that God made her expressly to do?

I've thought long and hard about this very thing. Don't you know if Satan attacks you (and me-and every other mom we know) this hard, he must have REALLY gone after Mary. This is the idea I'm writing about right now. Satan attacks our security in our motherhood from the moment of conception (did I do everything right? should I have drunk that coffee?) until...well, we die. And the sad part is - unless we recognize the attack and do something to stop it, he succeeds.

God gave you your beautiful children. God meant for you to be their mother: no one else. You have taught them well. They are good kids, but even when they choose (notice I said THEY choose?) not to be good, you've given them the tools to make better choices.

But here's the kicker: the most important things you have given your children are these things. One, they know you love God and have a close relationship with Him. They see it all the time. Two, they know you love them unconditionally. And three, they know that you aren't perfect, but that God is.

You rock, Mel-Bell. Hang in there.

Theresa Walker said...

Such a great post, and some great things for all of us mommies to think about. I agree that we so want everything to be "perfect" for our kiddos...I'm to blame there too. And, can I just add that my Type-A personality doesn't help any of this guilt-stuff either?! :)
Thanks again for your candid thoughts!!!

Becky said...

Love you, lady. Praying that you'll find how to be you without guilt or apology. It's hard to accept ourselves when so much of our societal pressure demands that we keep trying to "be better" (which generally means "do what *I* think you ought to do) in order to be accepted - even by our God. Cling to the truth that He knows you - all of you - and decided He wanted a relationship with *that exact person* before time began. So anybody else who thinks they're entitled to hold you to a higher standard than He does, well, they can just take a hike. It is a fine line walking in freedom without using it as an excuse, and we all mess up in it, but I firmly believe that He would rather us err on the side of freedom than the side of bondage. After all, He paid a pretty high price to set us free!! Hang in there; He'll show you "the right way" to walk in freedom - just don't expect it to look like anybody else tells you it should! :)

little castle said...

It is hard not to get sucked in by the mommy guilt. I do know that every single time I get caught up in things that don't really matter, I lose the chance to fully immerse myself in the moment to enjoy the things that do really matter. The wonderful thing is that each and every moment gives me a chance to do it over again. =)

Becky said...

Oooh, Krystal! I'm *so* going to have to steal that last sentence. Words worth remembering.