I’m a wife and stay-at-home mother of two awesome kids. Also, I get “mom guilt.” You can insert other self-deprecating nouns besides guilt: Shame, embarrassment, disappointment. It’s dumb that I do that to myself, so then I hide it from the world – which makes it worse. One day, I shut it off. I’d like to tell you about it.
Does this sound familiar?
- The shame I feel when I go to someone’s house that’s SO much cleaner than mine, and think, “Why can’t I keep up?”
- The embarrassment when I see myself in a mirror and realize my hair is starting to resemble a combination of that red head from Brave after skydiving and a bird’s nest.
- The guilt when my kids watch TV instead of recreating the Mona Lisa with stickers and shipping it off to their grandparents.
- The fatigue I feel when I’m tired of cooking every meal and wish my husband would step in more, but then I think of how often he’s at work during mealtime, earning money so that we can I think of single moms or wives of deployed servicemen cooking all the meals because they have to. Or MOMS deployed overseas. ::chest getting tighter::
Unchecked, there is no end to it. It follows me everywhere, like Target ads during pregnancy.
Recently, I happened upon a solution. When I say “solution,” I don’t actually mean a “cure.” The cure is Jesus. A daily dependence on Jesus. He’s better at this than I could ever be.
Instead, think of a solution used to rinse or disinfect an infection. Think of it as the first turning point. The first step toward healing. THAT is what I found. Ironically, it didn’t come from a mom. It came from a pep talk on Facebook Live by one of my favorite authors and speakers: Jon Acuff.
He said a few crisp, clean truths about mom guilt that hit me upside the head like a pool noodle.
“If you think there’s some way to get it all done and you’re not smart enough to figure it out, you might have mom guilt.”
“If a friend talked to you the way that YOU talked to you, you’d never spend time with that person.”
After listening to J.A.’s pep talk, I decided to shut down the negative voice in my head (or more accurately ignore it) for a day. These are my findings:
How I Shut Down the Negativity in My Head:
- I acknowledged it. I totally accepted that I was allowing myself to believe the lies my mind was fabricating.
- I wrote it down. By placing your negative thoughts in front of you, you get a startling look at what you’ve been telling yourself. Seeing the words You’re going to fail staring back up at you has a powerful effect, and gives you the chance to stare back and say, “Not today.”
- I accepted a challenge. I’m writing a book. It wants so badly to be a “someday” book, but I’ve set a deadline, even if it makes me want to pee my pants just thinking about it. After Jon Acuff’s video, I accepted his challenge to work on my dream for 15 minutes a day. I feel less guilty the more intentional I become.
- I told someone. After I decided to be nicer to myself for a day, I told some other moms and invited them to join me. That boosted my confidence. It reminded me that I’m not alone in this.
How did my day go?
I wasn’t so hard on myself.
I showered. It’s amazing what a difference that makes.
I forgot to wear my trendy, little belt with my dress at church, but I wasn’t all “You’re the only mom who doesn’t know how to dress herself” about it.
I read a book.
I spent marginally less time on my phone (imperfect mom in progress).
I got tackled by my giggling kids, repeatedly.
I let the kids spend time with daddy while I sat down for 10 minutes instead of guilt tidying. Is that a thing? That’s totally a thing for me.
I still heard negativity in my mind, but was encouraged with the knowledge that I was doing something about it.
I surrendered tomorrow to God.
If you wrestle with mom guilt, remember that there are some pretty shady lies the enemy is telling you. Leaning into this journey of emotions was actually my first step of healing. Telling it to someone was the second. Surrendering all my future steps to God was my third. Hang in there, mama. You aren’t alone in this.