On Monday night, we had plans to take the kids to a local Hawaiian shaved ice shack as a special treat.
Then reality (and the mom guilt) hit.
My husband came home from work to an exhausted wife, and a screaming, overtired baby who desperately needed a nap, and his 3 sons who hadn’t quite been on their best behavior. My husband sent me off to nurse the baby into a cuddled nap in the recliner.
Y’all, two hours later I woke up to a gentle voice asking me, “Do you want to come say goodnight to the boys?” I was still quite groggy, but what I’d heard shocked me. My husband ended up bringing the boys in to kiss me goodnight. (Thankfully the baby slept through that two minutes of family prayer and goodnight kiss chaos!)
Then the wall of mom guilt slammed into my soul.
It ate at me, as it does all of us.
My kids deserve better. They deserve a mom who plays with them and shows them how much beauty there is in life. My kids deserve to go on a promised family night outing. Of course, they also deserve outings and park trips and zoo trips. Because they deserve the activity they need to get worn out so that bedtimes are doable – and not the nightmares they’ve become.
And then, a simple truth flickered in the background of my memory.
Y’all, I’m 3 weeks postop. I had abdominal surgery 3 weeks ago. The doctor sewed mesh into the lining of my abdomen so I shouldn’t develop more hernias – after he fixed the two that were there. And he sewed up an untold number of inches’ worth of abdominal muscles – more than a year after they’d ripped violently apart during pregnancy.
There’s a reason I’m tired.
And my body needed some extra rest as a result. And wracking my soul and emotional self with mom guilt isn’t going to give me the rest I so desperately need.
Will my kids hate me forever for foregoing last night’s promised adventure? Well, this morning they couldn’t stop talking about a storm they’d gotten to watch with their daddy – while lil’ sis and I slept. (I was relieved that they weren’t angry. However, I was slightly jealous – how had I slept through such a glorious sounding storm?!?)
I’d been so busy thinking about my mom guilt that I didn’t give my kids enough credit. My kids knew how tired I was. They were willing to forgive me for an unintended delay in our family outing. And their only words for me? They told me they loved me – and that they wanted my tummy to finish healing. Which means the real question was this: was I willing to grant that same forgiveness to myself?
The guilt doesn’t go away immediately.
It took reminding myself, several times, that no damage had been done… that my body was healing and needed the rest… and that my children still loved me. I needed prayer and a gentle heavenly reminder that, had I been in my kids’ shoes, I’d have understood and forgiven already. It took words of encouragement from both my husband and one of my sisters. I reminded myself again and again that my kids are turning into loving, forgiving people. And that we’ll still go get Hawaiin shaved ice – another day.
It took remembering that simply trying to do better was enough. Being better than yesterday. And it’s that constant commitment to do and be better that puts us on the right path – the one towards a happiness that we can (and should) enjoy now. But knowing a principle and being able to do it? Well, that’s where the disconnect comes. That’s where it’s hard to overcome any guilt – but especially that mom guilt.
That’s why we need the constant reminders – the gentle words of encouragement from those around us – that we are enough. That we’re worth it. And that those around us are, too.
So if you’re having a rough day, remember that you’re worth it. And that kind words and forgiveness are for everyone – but most especially our mom guilt.