Every mommy knows it…that gnawing, sinking feeling when you think to yourself, “Why do I forget everything?” When you realize it’s too late to print Christmas cards, your little one doesn’t have as many long-sleeved onesies as you thought, and you’re too tired to fix anything but frozen pizza for supper. The ever-present “why can’t I get it all done? Ugh, we’re so late – again. How do all the other moms have their lives together?!” (I actually wanted to type about 15 more exclamation points after that last question – anybody else out there?)
It’s mom guilt.
Where does mom guilt actually come from? Maybe it’s from an Instagram feed saturated with highly edited photos. The ‘words of advice’ that are more condescending than helpful. Or a voice in your mind that tells you that you must be perfect.
Mom guilt can be paralyzing. It can consume your thoughts and actions. And it can turn into the largest cloud of doubt, blinding you to all the beautiful, wonderful, weird, hilarious things that ARE motherhood.
As a first-time mommy to a gorgeous 6-month-old little girl, I learn something new every.single.day. And it’s a journey like no other! I had no idea my heart could hold so much love. But I have struggled with real mom guilt. And I’ve had real breakdowns.
One such breakdown happened on Thanksgiving day. My family had planned to meet fairly early to do a brunch, then a late Thanksgiving feast. And of course, we had delegated certain dishes for both meals that we were to prepare. After getting off work late on Wednesday, I crashed after we were all fed and reasonably clean. The next morning, I realized that I didn’t have all the groceries I needed. It took me longer than anticipated to prepare the food. I hadn’t planned our outfits (because, you know there’s always pictures!) We arrived to my parents’ home so late. Needless to say, by this time, I was on the verge of tears.
All it took for the floodgates to open was my mom’s sweet question of concern…”Honey, are you okay?”
No, I was not okay.
Why were we so late? Why couldn’t I remember to pick up a missing ingredient (or better yet, pick it up the night before), why can’t I get anything right, and…why is it such a big deal? (A question I’m sure you’re all wondering!)
It was a big deal because I had a certain idea of how our family was supposed to arrive, how the food I made looked and tasted, and how put together we were. NONE of which mattered to anyone but me. But in my mind, I had failed miserably. I felt like my husband and baby girl deserved so much better. I was disappointed in myself and frustrated at myself. This, my friends, is mom guilt.
My precious mama held me close and let me cry for a moment. She then looked me right in the eye and calmly dropped a truth bomb: God chose me to be my baby’s mother. He hand-picked us for each other. He created our little family. And I am enough. That is all.
No one has it all together, no matter how manicured their Instagram feed or their Sunday outfits. There will be days when the main accomplishment of the day is keeping the little one full, clean, and happy – getting the chance to take a shower is merely a bonus.
Putting your children in daycare so you can work hard to help provide for your family doesn’t make you an inferior mommy. Learn to embrace the phrase “better late than never” instead of losing your mind over a matter of a few minutes. Be present. Be mindful that one day you will miss rocking them to sleep and the rhythm of that sweet breath on your neck.
Most importantly, realize that this ugly thing called mom guilt doesn’t come from your Heavenly Father. I still have moments of panic, frustration, and disappointment. I don’t always “win” those moments. That’s when I have to breathe a prayer for grace and perspective. Give yourself some grace, mama. The One who created grace made you for this crazy wonderful thing called motherhood.
And you are enough.