I’ve always had a guilt problem. I’ve also always been a bit of a perfectionist. Over the years, I’ve learned many lessons in patience and grace that have tempered some of those inborn tendencies. I’ve learned to know when it is OK to rest on my laurels and when I really need to put work in.
However, the one thing that triggers all my perfectionist tendencies and challenges all the hard-earned lessons I’ve learned in these areas is MOTHERHOOD.
Before I became a mom, I had heard of mom guilt. Knowing I am a naturally guilt-prone person, I told myself I’d work extra hard at not falling prey to mom guilt.
It couldn’t be that hard, I thought. I promised myself that, whenever I felt mom guilt creep in, I would just remind myself that I loved my children and that everything I did was for their benefit. I’d give myself grace, I vowed.
Then of course I became a mom and all that went out the window. If there’s anything I’m terrible at as a mom, it is giving myself grace.
Maybe some of you can relate. It starts during PREGNANCY. You worry about the things you eat and whether you are too active or not active enough. You have a stressful day and then feel guilty, wondering if you’re already screwing up your offspring with your negativity.
Then you have your baby and there are a million different choices to make, and even though you’ve already dutifully and carefully pre-selected all the parenting decisions you are certain you’ll ever follow, you eventually find that raising an actual human isn’t as easy as ordering from the ala carte menu. You can’t just have chicken medallions and mushroom soup. No, parenthood forces the entire menu down your throat.
You don’t realize all this right away of course. It could hit you two days or two weeks later. Two months or two years. Maybe it hits you incrementally, bit by bit until you realize you don’t look anything like the PERFECT MOM you were so certain you would be.
And then you feel guilty. Guilty that your kids have more screen time than you said they’d have or guilty that their diet isn’t as perfect as planned.
I am in a season right now that does not allow for perfection. A difficult pregnancy followed by life with two newborns plus a THREE-YEAR-OLD doesn’t let me be the perfect mom I wanted to be, or even the super fun mom I was when I only had one child.
And even though I know this time is just that—a season—
I still struggle with giving myself grace.
Because when you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to remember that each day is but a moment in time.
I could read a million stories by a million moms sharing the ways they believe they’ve failed as moms today and I would still say “nope, I’m worse.” That’s the thing about guilt, and mom guilt in particular: it’s personal.
So, if you too have a “guilt problem,” and if you too struggle with giving yourself grace, know you’re not alone. But more than that, know you are probably doing better than you think—even if you don’t believe it right now.