Can we please have a conversation about #MomGuilt? Because in my experience, Mom Guilt is not a small thing. It’s a WHOLE THING!
Just last week I had a friend ask me to please pray for her because she wasn’t able to watch her older daughter perform a solo in her dance competition due to her other daughter singing in a music concert. Keep in mind that she’ll likely see her older daughter perform that same solo a dozen times during the competition season AND she’s only missing it to watch her other daughter perform in her one concert of the year. But, none of that mattered because since she couldn’t be in two places at once, Mom Guilt was eating her up inside.
Mom Guilt is an equal opportunity offender.
Working moms feel guilty. Stay-at-home moms feel guilty. Even, I discovered, work-from-home moms feel guilty. In fact, while it appears they’ve got the best of both worlds, this last group might feel the most Mom Guilt of all. Both work demands and motherhood demands call out their siren songs each and every moment of the day. There’s no escape!
I don’t see dads wrestling with guilt as much as moms.
If my husband doesn’t want to do something, he doesn’t. He’s an incredibly loving and present dad, but if there’s not enough time in the schedule to do something, he’ll conclude (with….wait for it….no guilt whatsoever! None!) that it’s not gonna happen and hope to do it the next time. He moves forward without giving it a second thought.
I, on the other hand, will give it a second, a third and an eleventy thousandth thought. I will analyze the schedule and sacrifice sleep (and my sanity!) to make whatever it is happen because I think I SHOULD. There’s that word: SHOULD.
Two types of Mom Guilt
Mom Guilt #1: I SHOULD have done something.
This is the Mom Guilt we feel about needing to be everywhere all the time and be everything for everyone.
We feel guilty if we buy cookies instead of making them.
We feel guilty if we can’t attend the field trip.
We feel guilty when we can’t afford to go out for pizza because we don’t have two incomes.
We feel guilty when the toddler gets an extra half hour of screen time because the conference call ran long.
We feel guilty if we aren’t able to do the things we think we SHOULD do as moms.
So we constantly SHOULD all over ourselves. #MomGuilt.
Mom Guilt #2: I SHOULDN’T have done something.
This is the guilt that keeps us up at night analyzing the choices we made as moms that day wondering if we’ve done irreversible harm to our children. On one end we feel guilty because we yelled at our kids. On the other end we feel guilty because we didn’t yell at our kids and now wonder if the grace we offered instead was a missed opportunity and they’ll end up living in our basements for the entirety of their 20s! #MomGuilt
This one gets me a lot. I’m parenting teens right now and because it’s tricky, shape-shifting water, I fail a lot. I’m constantly analyzing whether my actions and words are causing permanent harm in our relationship or whether they will ever grow up to be healthy adults.
But, the good news is: our mistakes are not the final story, in our lives or our children’s lives.
Mom Guilt only wins when we forget to give ourselves grace.
We extend grace to ourselves, and we extend it to others. Grace to make mistakes. Grace to forgive. Grace to be imperfect. Grace that B is a good grade. Grace that sometimes dinner looks like McDonald’s. Grace to believe that because God is bigger than me and His love is greater than mine: I can be human. I don’t have to be superwoman. I can stop beating myself up and fall into His deep, deep grace.
And when I do, when I move from #MomGuilt to #MomGrace, I model that same grace to my kids.
Our imperfections are learning opportunities. When we apologize to our kids and ask for their forgiveness, we teach them it’s okay for them to make mistakes, too. We remind them that this same grace is waiting for them if they’ll let go of their own guilt and shame.
And isn’t that the kind of moms we want to be? It’s time to flip the hashtag and start a new movement. No more #MomGuilt. We’re living in #MomGrace now.