Last week, we had all sorts of grand plans to take the kids to a get a special treat. However, then reality (and the mom guilt) hit.
My husband came home from work to an exhausted wife, and a screaming, overtired baby girl who desperately needed a nap, and his 3 sons who hadn’t quite been on their best behavior. My husband, despite a long and grueling day at work, jumped right into parenting mode and sent me off to nurse the baby into a cuddled nap in the recliner. When you’re that exhausted, y’all, the mom guilt builds while you nap. It’s got to get cured – as soon as you wake up, anyway.
Mom guilt both slams into your soul and eats it away, piece by piece.
Y’all, two hours later I woke up to a gentle voice asking me, “Do you want to come to 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!)
The guilt 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.My Anxiety – AGAIN.
And then, a simple truth flickered in the background of my memory.
Y’all, I would never stand for someone to talk to my kids this way. I wouldn’t allow anyone to talk to my friends that way. So why do I do it to myself? Why do we become our own worst critics?
We deserve some grace. We deserve understanding. And we deserve love.
We deserve grace, understanding, and love from others – and ourselves.
That day, my body needed some extra rest. 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 week’s promised adventure? Well, no. We ended up going later. And that night, they got to watch an amazing storm 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 me to be happy. Which means the real question was this: was I willing to grant that same forgiveness to myself?
Practice kindness, gratitude, and positive thinking.
It took reminding myself, several times, that no damage had been done… that my body obviously 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 still got Hawaiin shaved ice – another day.
Remember that simply trying to do better is enough. Be 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 kindness, gratitude, and encouragement from those around us – that we are enough. That we’re worth it. And that those around us are, too.
Because as we practice being kinder, more grateful, and more positive, the mom guilt will be replaced by a sense of peace, joy, and love. It won’t happen overnight – it takes time to retrain your brain and soul to see the sunshine on even the cloudiest of days. But it is possible – with practice and time.
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 ourselves.