Both guilt and conviction are part of the journey as we walk through this life. They are not the same. Conviction is life giving, and creates opportunity to make different or better choices that are in our best interest. Guilt is death bringing, soul swallowing, and leaves a person feeling “not good enough.” There is room for conviction in my life. Guilt is on its way out–forever.
We all deal with guilt, but for some reason it seems mommies are bred for a “special” kind of guilt. The kind that makes us feel uneasy letting on how hard motherhood really is, because we don’t want to look weak. The kind that will make a martyr out of us before we will ask for help or take a break. The kind that leaves us judging rather than affirming, matching up rather than embracing our unique roles, and doing this whole mommy thing in competition with one another instead of side by side.
And the saddest part is, this “mommy guilt” makes us guarded and sometimes unreceptive to actual good feedback, because we take any and all criticism as an accusation of failure.
When I was in the early months of motherhood with my first (precious son), I spent a lot of time analyzing this nagging sense of guilt I seemed to be experiencing more often than I care to admit. I asked myself, many times, why I wasn’t like all those other moms I seemed to be running into all over the place. You know, the kind that never seem to need a break from their children. The kind that hadn’t done anything for themselves in forever. The kind that hadn’t left the house since their baby was born (six weeks ago). You know – THAT kind. Although my tone is cynical, please understand that I actually do have an appreciation for the fact that those moms do seem to exist (or they’re all lying), and that is totally fine. Go them! But, I am NOT that kind of mom and I am finally, just most recently, actually ok with that truth.
I’m the kind of mom that needs a little time to myself. Every. Single. Day. This means I need a break from my children (now two of them) every day. And, I take it. I’m the kind of mom that makes sure I have backup when my husband is out of town because I need help. I relied very heavily on one of my two best friends to come over, read my son stories, and put him to bed for me after sitting at high school football games every Friday night as a coach’s wife. I was 8 months pregnant and about ready to die because my back hurt so bad. I just needed a hot shower and that wouldn’t have happened, ever, without help. Yeah… I did that. Totally did. First of all, I’ve got to be one of the luckiest moms out there to have that kind of support. Secondly, good for me, because I not only accepted, but asked for, that kind of help.
I now believe that in order for me to be the best mom I can be, I actually have to embrace the kind of mom I was MEANT to be by accepting my weaknesses and rejoicing in my strengths.
I am meant to be the kind of mom who has partners in this parenting thing, and a lot of them. That truth also allows me to be the kind of mom that sings and dances to Disney movies, reads stories all the time, builds Lego towers on a regular basis, and actually has the energy to enjoy my children – most of the time. I know that for myself, I can’t embrace one part of my motherly design, and not the other. I have to embrace both.
My wish for all mothers is that we would give ourselves a break. We are all so hard on ourselves, and secretly hard on each other. It seems we could all benefit from taking a little time to reflect on the kind of moms we are designed to be. Then, embrace it and be the best kind of mom THAT is, whatever it looks like. None of us are going to get everything right, so why are we so hard on ourselves when we mess up? Let’s learn to apologize to our children, forgive our own screw ups and each others’ and then move on. When we are able to get rid of our false mommy guilt and walk in that kind of freedom regularly, it’s amazing the transformation that occurs both in our hearts, and how we view motherhood in general.
If you missed Sommer’s beautiful photos and introduction this past Tuesday, click here.
If you liked this post, check out some of Jelly Bean Journal’s other guest writers: