Mom guilt. Many of us have it. Most of us can’t shake it. Few of us have conquered it. So, let’s confront it.
To the working mom, stay home mom, single mom, foster mom, step-mom, adoptive mom, married and divorced mom… How often are you overwhelmed with a particular sense of failure, inadequacy, or disappointment as it relates to raising your child? Do you find yourself consumed with thoughts of “what if”, or constantly questioning a parenting decision? Do you evaluate, only to reevaluate an action you have taken, and then conclude that it was the wrong one? That, my dear sister, is mom guilt.
Mom guilt became a reality very early on in my parenting. In fact, I did not even know what this feeling was, or that it had a name. But I did know that for various reasons, and at random times, I just felt like a bad mom… like, I wasn’t quite measuring up to my own expectations, or the expectations of those around me. I felt off at times, even down on myself. But the distinguishing characteristic was the belief that anything bad, or wrong, was my fault.
Mom guilt is destructive. Not only does it silently break down the heart of the mother, but through its vicious path of disguise, and distortion, mom guilt ultimately dismembers the very relationships that we are trying to nurture. Here’s how it works.
Mom guilt can easily be disguised as good intentions. In fact, guilt usually stems from a genuine desire to be and do the best for your child. There’s a standard of “mom-excellence” that many of us have in mind. Whether it was fashioned by our own experiences, personal desires, or cultural norms, we set the bar high for what a “good mom” is. Therefore, any mistake is often interpreted as a failure – even termed “mom fail” (what’s up with that??!). And multiple “failures” over a period of time will land us at the doorstep of guilt.
Once we are there, guilt then distorts the truth of our day to day life. Just imagine operating a vehicle with blurred vision. (If you’re like me, with a pretty significant astigmatism, you may be personally acquainted with this reality!) it’s quite difficult - dare I say, nearly impossible to maneuver effectively. Yet, when we allow our inadequacies to be woefully magnified, and our shortcomings to define who we are, we are living our lives with a distorted lens. The truth becomes fuzzy, and our journey very much agitated. Everything is “my fault”, “unforgettable”, and “not as good as” <insert mom friend>. We just can’t see straight. We lack clarity. The weight of guilt has us duped, and our vision distorted.
So now what?
How do we conquer the never-ending thoughts that overwhelm us? How do we get over mistakes that were made, or poor habits that we helped create? Do we live a life of unicorns and rainbows? Do we avoid addressing situations that are pressing?
Dear mama, we must embrace the truth.
As daughters of the King, our identity is in Christ. Our strength is in Him. Our hope is secure… even as a mother. Simply put, there is nothing beyond the reach of God’s grace. So before we go any farther, stop and thank God for His grace, mercy, forgiveness, restoration, and everything that You need Him to be! You, dear sister, are already victorious!
Truth is, guilt is from the enemy. It leads to condemnation, and produces nothing good. Guilt requires us to make payment for our own mistakes. It will keep us up all night, and down all day. Guilt is NOT the same as genuine Holy Spirit-led conviction. Guilt is not of God.
My challenge for us is to walk in freedom. This freedom is found in Jesus Christ. Jesus shed His precious blood so that may live victoriously in Him, by Him, and for Him. But remember, we cannot live a victorious life as a mom in Christ, while simultaneously being destroyed by guilt. One must give. And I don’t know about you, but I am ready to give up the guilt!
If you too are ready to conquer the guilt, consider this 3-step process toward cleansing:
STEP 1: Confess it. Confess means to agree with God. Call guilt what it is. Don’t excuse it. Don’t explain it. And please don’t deny it. Confess it.
STEP 2: Commence. This means to move forward toward cleansing. This step may look differently for each person, depending on the complexity of the circumstances. So be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and prepare to obey His commands. Taking a step of obedience is your forward motion. So, commence, dear sister. Commence.
STEP 3: Connect. Pray about connecting with other sisters in Christ. Sisters to walk with you, pray for you, and hold you accountable. Sisters who are honest about their own struggles, while hopeful in victory. I have such a sister circle, and believe me. I cannot imagine doing the mom life without them!
Motherhood is quite a journey. So walk it out, dear mama… in freedom.