Mommy guilt. Before I had kids, it was just a phrase to roll my eyes at. After I had kids, it became a living entity with the ability to eat me alive if I wasn’t careful.
Before I had kids, I’d feel guilty about something every once in a while. Since I’ve had kids I haven’t stopped feeling guilty…
I didn’t spend enough time playing with the kids.
I didn’t get the house clean because I was playing with the kids.
I cleaned the house and now I won’t let the kids play because they’ll mess it up.
I didn’t bring them outside to play and it’s beautiful out.
I brought them outside to play and now they have bug bites.
I read with my oldest much more often than I read with the younger two.
I’m not strict enough.
I’m too strict.
I let them eat candy.
I don’t let them eat candy.
I hide candy from them so I can eat it.
I don’t plan educational activities for the kids to do on a daily basis.
Who am I kidding? I don’t plan educational activities for the kids to do ever.
I didn’t breastfeed long enough.
My pregnancy diet is probably to blame for my middle child’s food allergies.
I let them watch too much TV.
Sometimes I use the TV as a babysitter.
I went shopping without them, even though they were crying at the door to come with me.
I should be happy all the time because I get to stay home with my kids and other moms would kill to be in my situation.
I yell too much.
Anything can turn into a reason to feel guilty.
End the mommy guilt, most people would say, it’s certainly not helpful or productive. But the problem is, getting rid of guilt as a mother is next to impossible. So, instead, I’m going to embrace my mommy guilt.
The way I see it, if I never experience mommy guilt, one of two things has occurred:
1. I’ve attained perfection (and I know that’s not the case!)
2. I’ve stopped caring (and I pray that’s not ever the case!)
So instead I’m choosing to embrace the guilt, because doing so allows me to do two things:
To accept that I’m not perfect. Oh, I try to be. Or I at least try to give the impression that I am. But I’m not. And when I accept that I’m not, I can get on with the important business of loving my kids as an imperfect mom. Which means I can teach them at an early age not to expect perfection from imperfect people, including themselves. And I can model for them how to make amends when that imperfection leads to hurt, as it inevitably will.
And it allows me to realize that I care. I mean, if I didn’t care, I would have nothing to feel guilty about. The fact that I foolishly feel guilt over anything and everything proves that I really want to do what’s best for my kids. That realization alone allows me to breathe a big sigh of relief.
So the next time mommy guilt creeps up behind me, ready to take a bite, I’m going to turn around to face it. I’ll give it a hug and thank it for reminding me just how much I love my kids. I’ll promise to do one thing (or stopping doing one thing) that I’ve been feeling guilty over. And then I’ll tell it to take a hike.
Because I know it’ll be nibbling on my shoulder again before I’ve even turned around.