I’ve been feeling the weight of it recently. Mommy guilt. Those feelings of not ever doing enough and being all you think you ought to be for your kids. And consequently, you feel guilty taking time or doing anything for yourself.
When my boys were babies and toddlers, I had a bad case of mommy guilt. It subsided for a few years. But in the past few months, pangs of guilt has resurfaced. So, I’ve been asking God to show me why mommy guilt is making a comeback. And he has revealed some things.
As a homeschool mom, I’m with my sons from sunrise to sunset and beyond. Yet, I still feel as though I’m not spending enough time with them. Maybe it’s because I spend more time being teacher than mom. School ends and mommy guilt begins. I am torn between having some “me” time versus actual play time with the boys. It’s a constant tug of war between doing for them and doing for me. I thought I was balancing both well. Lately, I’ve questioned whether I’m focusing more time on me and not enough time with my boys.
Why do I feel guilty taking time for myself when I’ve been teaching and mothering most of my waking hours? Should I feel guilty? What is causing these feelings of guilt?
One word sums up the reason for my mommy guilt. Insecurity. When I forget who and whose I am, I become insecure and begin to compare myself to other moms. And comparison is a losing battle. Every time I compare myself, my work, my family, my stuff, or my life with another, I lose out to guilt. Guilt pressure causes me to believe I should be doing or being more of this and less of that. Yet, it is hard not to compare when everyone’s life is on display 24/7 on every social media outlet :(.
The more I scroll through Instagram and Facebook, the more I find myself comparing, competing, and coveting. Most of the time, I take part in the comparison game without even realizing it, until guilt consumes me. It is a subtle and dangerous trap.
But, I don’t have to give in to guilt when I remember who and whose I am. I am a daughter of God. I have his imprint in me because he designed me uniquely. Therefore, I don’t have to compare myself with another mom. I am wired specifically for my children and God teaches me how to be their mom. I fail daily, but God extends his grace and forgiveness. He gives me a fresh start every day to do a little better than I did yesterday. With him by my side, failures are turned into teachable moments. My boys get to see an imperfect mom who needs God and relies on him for every, little, single thing.
Yes, mommy guilt is real and it may always be present. But, I don’t have to believe its lies and act on what it tells me. I can ask God to help me be the best mom for my kids. Limiting exposure to social media or anything that may trigger guilt is crucial. And I must remember to listen for God’s instructions in the Bible, instead of following the masses. For he made me and my kids. He knows how we fit together. In His strength and by his power, I can squash the pangs of mommy guilt when it arises and stop the comparison game before it begins.
Here’s a habit I am practicing to tackle mommy guilt. I hope it helps you as well. The next time guilt sneaks in, pay careful attention to the work of nurturing your children. Refuse to compare yourself and your kids to anyone. Instead, use the comparison energy towards your children and pour your best effort, time, and love into them. Then, you won’t feel the need to compare yourself to others and think you should do or be more. You’ll have the satisfaction of a job well done to the best of your ability, with God’s help.
Keep at it mommas! Don’t let guilt rob the joy and peace from your mothering days. God is your help! With him by your side, you will have all you need to do the best for your kids and to grow into your best self for them. And he’ll help you make time to do a few things for yourself, without mommy guilt pestering you :).