If you’ve been around the block in your motherhood journey or crept around any mom groups, you’ve likely heard of the term “mom guilt.”
A few people warned me before I had my daughter that you enter the hospital yourself and you don’t just leave with a baby (and a battered body). You also leave with a large bag of guilt that you’ll sprinkle throughout your entire journey in motherhood.
From the moment you are a mother (and maybe even before), you experience this. Did your birth leave you feeling guilty for it going not-at-all the way you thought it would? Was breastfeeding (or lack thereof) a mess? Did your baby lose weight right away or was born jaundiced? All things out of our control as moms, most likely, but all things that right off the bat can easily hit us with guilt because suddenly the life we imaged is very different or less than.
Normally, I think I have this mom guilt thing in check. I don’t sit around and have pity parties for myself on a regular basis, thinking I’m a horrible mother. But when I really sit down at the end of the day and examine my thoughts of the events passed, sometimes there’s more guilt there than I realized. And I’ve realized it all boils down to one thing.
So what does my mom guilt look like? I feel guilty for…
Relying on easy things like fruit snacks for quick on-the-go snacks. I wish I could be one of those moms who always has fresh fruit or some awesomely packed bento box, but I never seem to buy enough fruit or prepare it for when we need it.
Using an iPad daily to babysit my toddler. We don’t have TV, so there’s that, but I wonder if any amount of screen time is damaging. I use it for her to be entertained while I take a shower.
Leaving my daughter with my husband or a babysitter. I have so much guilt over this that sometimes I ask “Are you sure it’s okay if I go out and do this?” to my husband, which is ridiculous. It’s his child too and no one ever said I had to watch her for 100% of her life.
Needing to take a nap in the afternoon now that I’m pregnant again and then not getting any important work or housework done, or not be as engaged with my toddler because I’m tired.
Wishing the hours away until nap time so I can get some peace. Of course I love my daughter, but some days I am ready for nap or bedtime at 9 AM and it makes me feel horrible to not enjoy my days more.
When I write these out, I start to see a pattern: I realize that I hope I can be all things to all people and be perfect, especially for my daughter and family. I see a woman who wants to be super mom and do everything herself, when in reality, that’s just silly. As a mom, the weight of motherhood and what I hope for my family seems to cloud my logical thinking. I think I should be able to get everything I need to get done in life and never use a babysitter or an iPad or pre-packaged snacks.
When I look at the hours that it takes to accomplish all the things I hope for: an organized home, healthy foods for my kids, planned out Pinterest-perfect craft sessions – something has to give. No person, including myself, has the capacity to have everything all together all the time. Honestly, I am lucky if we arrive at a play date on time and actually bring two shoes for my toddler, let alone freshly cut fruit and a have on decent outfit for myself.
What I realize most about my mom guilt is that it boils down to being prideful and wanting an independence that God never designed for me to have. I realize that the more I lean into Him and truly rely on Him in dependence in my days as a mom, it’s okay that I can’t do everything. He isn’t asking me to do everything, He’s just asking me to do life with Him – fruit snacks, piles of laundry, and all. The more I shut out the Lord and his helping hand, the more I am unhappy, striving to “do it all” but always, always coming up short. Because I am human.
But He knows this and He grants me the Grace card every time. Never does He look down on me and say “Stale Goldfish again? Letting her watch Daniel Tiger again?” No, no. His Word never condemns but gently corrects. His Word always encourages and shows me that as long as I am trying and loving my family, I’m more than enough and doing what He designed me to do.
Yet how often do I grant myself that grace card? Or even other moms? How many of us are on our high horses, doing life out of a prideful (sinful) independence we were never meant to go after?
What He wants for our motherhood, friendships, and relationships with our families is grace. He doesn’t want or value a perfectly cleaned house, the most elaborate Pinterest crafts, or perfectly put together outfits for our holiday photos. He values a woman who is available, willing, trying her best, and has an open ear to his love and faithfulness. He knows we’re human and that we slip up at times, which is why He sent Jesus in the first place, so we didn’t have to be perfect.
Sometimes when I just remember the heart of the gospel as a whole, it really centers me as a mom. I don’t have to have my house clean or have an organic free range meal on my table every night to be doing this motherhood thing well. And I don’t have to feel guilt for being limited and flawed.
I hope whatever guilt you might have, whether you think you have it in check like I do, or if it eats away at you at night – I hope and pray that you get some perspective on it and receive that Grace like water when you’re thirsty. Just take it and know that even though you’re mothering probably doesn’t look like what you envisioned sometimes, God knows you are doing your best and He always, always loves you for it.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:16.