Time to face my mommy guilt
Recently, I was on one of my “Mommy pages” where someone asked about how moms deal with the ever present “mommy guilt.” You know, that nagging feeling of inadequacy at the end of the day convincing you that you aren’t raising your kids the right way. Sometimes it comes out in my compulsive need to follow every health trend or wanting to implement some proclaimed superior way to teach my boys so they have every conceivable “deserved” advantage. It comes out in my fear that I am not doing all I can to keep my boys on top of their game. Seriously, I have worried about accidentally having some brain damaging chemicals in their soap, medicines that will hurt them, why I did not do everything possible to avoid having a C-section and how that may have damaged my boys, and more – much, much more. Don’t even get me started on my Christian responsibility mommy guilt…my boys aren’t memorizing weekly scriptures or singing hymns like champs – oh my heart, I am an utter failure if I let these thoughts sink in and fill my mind.
And honestly, being a “boy mom” can increase the guilt. Our boys generally are less organized, slower to mature, less connected to adults and do not keep pace with many milestones when compared to girls, not to mention they tend to be dirtier and smellier. My boys are 3 and 1 but oh my gracious, I have already felt the crush of mom guilt!
So, here is my plan to avoid the crippling comparisons and subsequent damaging mom guilt.
First, I want to learn to be proactive and protect myself. If you are a friend of mine, skip this paragraph. But, I have hidden moms on facebook who act like they have it all together or who are focused on proving how advanced their kids are (even some who are good friends). I have also hidden people who post “helpful” parent advice All The Time. You know the advice. The kind which makes me question why my boys are, well, crazy, naughty, dirty, whiny little boys who act their age instead of being advanced and why my house is not ready for visitors most of the time nor the perfect learning environment, etc. I don’t mind encouragement and sharing helpful principles. But trying to keep up with every new parenting idea, discipline method, diets, or ways to avoid every sniffle, is not helpful. As much as I would LOVE to be an “oily” mom or do things all natural or all organic or be a “gentle” parent, or raise the next academic, sports or music legend, sometimes all that advice takes me away from being genuinely connected and present with my boys. (And why would I not want to be connected to those crazy, naughty, dirty. . . ) Being proactive will help me with my second goal.
Second, I am purposing to STOP comparing myself to other moms. Theodore Roosevelt said it so well: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” When we compare ourselves we always come up wanting. I cannot be a mom in the structured and planned way my sister-in-law can. When I compare myself to her I am convinced my children are going to turn out ignorant and illiterate not to mention lack some amazing, needed life experience which will be the key to their future success. I will never pull off the amazing parties like my older sister and I don’t document my child’s life as well as my younger sister. (I am picking on my sisters and sister-in-law because they are stuck with me, unlike my friends.) BUT, in reality, we are very different moms, and what I see of other moms online is only a small reflection of their life. I am a messy spontaneous mom, and I am getting to the place where I realize that this is ok. God gave me different strengths and abilities and I need to focus on what His plan for me is instead of focusing on being Pinterest Perfect.
Galatians 6:4-5 in the Message says “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”
And finally, but most importantly, I am purposing to pray and trust God, seeking Him daily to help me be the “right” parent for my boys. Did I say it’s hard being a mom? But on top of the everyday stresses we can’t avoid, I find the glossy, carefully chosen pictures and statements uploaded to facebook and Pinterest which make it look like some families have it all together, crushing to my spirit. I can’t even pretend to compare! So when those thoughts come to me, I have to trust God, asking Him to equip me to be exactly what my boys need. I pray those thoughts push me to ask God to provide for my boys where and when I cannot. I keep telling myself, I don’t have to be a perfect mom. God is perfect and covers all my mistakes. I don’t want to be “perfect,” I want to do what is “right” before God.
2 Corinthians 12:9 is a verse that comforts me when I think of all the ways I am not a perfect mom. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (ESV) Because I am weak and imperfect, Christ can be made known in my life. He can work in the lives of my boys. I want to turn my guilt and worry into prayer.
What a wake-up call for those of us plagued with mom guilt. Let’s focus on the gifts God has given us and do our best with our own lives. And let the guilt guide us to confess our sins, not change our preferences or personalities!
Raising those boys into godly men is going to be hard enough! Don’t let the enemy steal your joy. Go through your newsfeeds and hide the posts and people who tempt you to compare and feel guilty for how you parent. Stop comparing yourself to other people because there is only one you, and your kids are each unique individuals. PRAY mommas, pray.
Join me and give yourself permission to be YOU as a mom and not who you think others want you to be like. Want freedom and joy? Are you willing to head down this road with me?
May God give us peace and freedom to live for Him in every area of our lives.