Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mommy Guilt?

[Note: the pics in this article don't go with it, and they're not even altogether recent. Sorry about that. I'm browsing pics in iPhoto from the last 9 months, and just thought I'd share some that caught my eye.]

I've seen a heap of articles that tackle or reference "mommy guilt" as a natural part of motherhood. Maybe I'm weird, but I don't live with guilt as a mom, on an ongoing basis. I really don't.

Oh, of course as a sinful person, I feel guilt that I am not some sort of "perfect" mom... but the sense I get from these articles is that there's something more at work here. Of course there are regrets about my failures as a wife & mom... every human being deals with those. I wish I could say my kids didn't know what it sounds like for mom to yell. I wish I could say I'd only, ever, been kind in my responses to them. But they, like every other human who has ever lived, have a sinful, human mom. And I just trust that God will use that in their lives for their good (and I also submit myself to God for His continuing work in my life).

But again, I often get the sense from articles and news pieces that moms feel or should feel a lot of guilt over the various choices we make as moms... or that it's normal for moms to feel and live with guilt.

The reason I'm writing is just to say, if that's you, and you feel guilt, I'd encourage you to hold that guilt up to the light. Examine it in the full light of Scripture, and in the full view of your husband, and yourself, and the aims you have for your family.

Not all guilt is bad... for example:
  • If I'm feeding my kids junk food too often, and feeling guilt because they're sick and cranky and having bathroom issues, then that might be a helpful guilt to jar me into reality.
  • If I'm feeling guilty because I've been dealing with my children in a way that is angry, belittling, or hurtful to them, then that is a good guilt, to motivate me to stop it and treat them with love & kindness, even while disciplining.
  • If I've put my children in daycare, the guilt I feel as I walk away might be prodding me to consider that perhaps my actions don't match up with our aims as a family.
  • If I want to throw in the towel while breastfeeding because mastitis hurts so dadgum bad, or because I'm just tired in the throes of early weeks with a newborn, the perceived guilt may help me to press on through an undoubtedly hard season.
  • If I'm feeling frustrated with my weight even while I reach for the extra dessert or sip on my calorie-loaded drink all day long, then my guilt ought to compel me to change my behavior!

But if it's a guilt over something that can't/shouldn't be undone, like:
  • not having enough money to buy certain things your child wants
  • not being able to spend all your day focusing on your firstborn now that you've had a second baby
  • not being able to keep house like that mom whose kids are grown
  • not being able to afford the beautifully-decorated suburban dream home like other people your age seem to be able to do
  • not looking like ______ family that you see pictures of on a blog or Facebook page
  • not being able to ____(use cloth diapers, breastfeed for "x" length of time, afford toddler gymnastic classes, cook with only organic ingredients, etc.)____ that all the other young moms are talking about
  • (or heck, sometimes even not being able to get a shower whilst caring for little ones!!!)

Well, I think those guilty feelings can be laid aside. Let them roll right off your back, and banish their return. Don't fret if you don't do everything someone else deems important!

We will each stand before God and account for what we've done with the treasures He's given us... so get in the Word, and get with your husband, and determine what your family values are. And then live in line with those things. And once you've examined it, either let your guilt shape the choices you make, or if it's the unhelpful kind, toss it out! Do away with Mommy guilt and live in the light.


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