A lot of discussion percolates around mom guilt, and why moms just need to let it go. In most cases, this is completely true. In fact, I am the mom who can make most moms feel better about this type of guilt because I guarantee my house is dirtier and less organized than yours, my cooking scarce or bland and crispy, and I don’t even have a Pinterest account so my children’s birthday parties (if they are given) are near shameful in presentation.

Want to know a secret? I actually don’t feel that guilty about these potential shortcomings.

But there is another type of mom guilt that weighs me down immensely and stings my face with tears at night as I face the painful feeling that I was not good enough for my children that day. And the very hard truth, for me at least, is some days I really am not the mom my children deserve. Sometimes I can do better.

Because . . . 

Sometimes I act my children’s age and throw a tantrum right along with them.

Sometimes I let my impatience overtake me as I bark orders and snap at them.

Sometimes I let myself get angry and yell.

Sometimes I ignore them when they want a cuddle because I am too busy on my stupid phone.

Sometimes I drive too fast with them in the car because I am worried about being late to school.

Sometimes I write a blog only to look up and find my son doing something incredibly unsafe.

Sometimes I think more about myself than my children when they are sick and how it will affect my day.

Sometimes I really am not good enough for my kids. These are the times I SHOULD feel guilty for my behavior because I am behaving less than. I encourage my kids to feel all ranges of emotions, including guilt. My daughter often escalates and immediately retreats to “I’m sorry.” Likewise, when I am not the mom they deserve, I am truly so sorry and always tell them. As parents we must show the same humility to ourselves as we expect from our children. You see, real guilt is not a useless emotion. It is a rather important one in fact, and one that we must sit with and chew on for awhile. For, we can only experience raw growth when we allow ourselves to feel uncomfortable and exposed long enough to change.

Maybe you feel working mom guilt because you can’t be in two places at the same time, or maybe you feel stay at home mom guilt because you aspire to give more financial resources. Maybe your packed lunches are sloshed together with preservatives (gasp!), or you forgot your child’s school snack. Maybe you gave yourself respite instead of laundry duty. Maybe your child isn’t reading yet, and you are convinced it is because you only read two books, not ten, to him a day when he was still a baby. And maybe you feel guilty for these imperfections.

All that stuff? Let all that stuff go. Because that’s the stuff that you have nothing to be sorry for, and could potentially be concealing our true transgressions against our children.

So about that other stuff?

When we aren’t present like we know we should be, when we can be . . . 

When we let our tempers win . . . 

When we forget to use our kind words . . . 

When we become complacent . . . 

When we aren’t acting in loving ways towards our children . . . 

Let that stuff stick around, uncomfortable as it may be because that’s the gummy guilt you may need to chew on for a bit. You can understand why you acted the way you did, but it doesn’t make it right either. Just like when our children act out, we can see they are not mean hearted, but rather acting out an emotion from a depleted state.

We often say in our house, “You may feel angry, sad, tired, (fill in the blank). But it is still not OK to intentionally hurt another person with your words or actions.” I am convinced I should be held to AT LEAST the same standard I hold my children to, and even when acting out in a depleted state, though entirely understandable, it does not excuse my bad behavior as a mother.

So what do we do next? We chew on it, and then we spit it out. Because we are all a little broken regardless how we prefer to present to the world, and tomorrow is a new day. Grant yourself and others grace. Use yourself and your own shortcomings as teachable moments. They NEED to know that the best thing they can do with their own imperfections that cause pain to others, is to feel that guilt, then let forgiveness flow fluidly in and out.

So feel that guilt long enough to grow. There is nothing wrong with you. It is normal and human, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying to do better when it comes to the REAL infractions of motherhood.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Krista Hager

A loving hotmess mom solely responsible for no less than one million motherhood blunders a week. Work from home writer in my "spare" time. Mother to two tiny and spicy tots, ages two and three, and one new furbaby-just as spicy and just as tiny. Wife to the most patient human on earth. 

Her Future Will Not Be My Broken Past

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hold hands by water, silhouette photo

Forty years ago, you were an innocent child. You were brought into this world for a purpose. Your innocence is robbed before kindergarten by a trusted relative. You are broken and bruised by those entrusted to protect you. You are extremely emotional in your childhood, but no one listens to understand. As you grow into your teenage years, emotions are bottled up out of fear. You lean into promiscuous behavior because that is the only way you know how to get men to love you. Because of abuse that no one took you out of, you stay around those who...

Keep Reading

You Came between Us

In: Marriage, Motherhood
Toddler between mom and dad under sheet

Right in the middle of our deepest love, you came—just between us. A silent, unseen surprise. A mysterious miracle of incarnated love and joy. From that sacred moment that we couldn’t imagine being any sweeter, came you. Sometime in the middle of all the daily goodbye hugs, my stomach began to grow and you came between us. This beautiful bundle of life blossoming right inside of me. And we were in awe of every single tiny formation of you. In awe of who you were, excited by who you’d be, in awe that you were ours. You came between us...

Keep Reading

God Redeemed the Broken Parts of My Infertility Story

In: Faith, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Two young children walking on a path near a pond, color photo

It was a Wednesday morning when I sat around a table with a group of mamas I had just recently met. My youngest daughter slept her morning nap in a carrier across my chest. Those of us in the group who held floppy babies swayed back and forth. The others had children in childcare or enrolled in preschool down the road. We were there to chat, learn, grow, and laugh. We were all mamas. But we were not all the same. I didn’t know one of the mom’s names, but I knew I wanted to get to know her because she...

Keep Reading

I’m a Mom Who Reads and is Raising Readers

In: Living, Motherhood
Mom with infant daughter on bed, reading a book, color photo

Since childhood, I’ve been lost in a world of books. My first true memory of falling in love with a book was when my mom read aloud Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. With each voice she used, I fell deep into the world of imagination, and I’ve never seemed to come up for air. My reading journey has ebbed and flowed as my life has gone through different seasons, but I’ve always seemed to carry a book with me wherever I went. When I entered motherhood and gave my whole life over to my kids, I needed something that...

Keep Reading

I Look Forward to the End of a Work Day for a Whole New Reason Now

In: Motherhood
Dad hugs toddler at home

Those minutes matter. Whether it’s 5 or 15, every single second of them counts. Unless you’ve been there, it’s impossible to explain. I’m not sure there are any words that could really create the right picture. But believe me when I say those minutes count. I’m talking about those final minutes leading up to that door opening and some form of relief being on the other side. Those minutes you never thought would come. Those minutes mean you made it through another day, and there is (possibly) some relief in sight. This is a new experience I wasn’t quite ready...

Keep Reading

I Had to Learn to Say “I’m Sorry” to My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom hugs tween daughter

My two oldest kiddos are at the front end of their teen years. I remember that time in my own life. I was loud, somewhat dramatic, I let my hormones control me, and I never—ever—apologized. This last part was because no one ever really taught me the value of apology or relationship repair. Now, I could do some parent blaming here but let’s be real, if you were a kid whose formative years were scattered between the late ’80s and early ’90s, did you get apologies from your parents? If so, count that blessing! Most parents were still living with...

Keep Reading

I Didn’t Know How Much I Needed Other Mothers

In: Friendship, Living, Motherhood
Two mom friends smiling at each other

I read somewhere the other day that when a child is born, a parent is too. In my first few months being a mother, I’m learning just how odd that sentiment is. In an instant, I became someone new. Not only that, but I became part of a group I didn’t realize existed. That sounds wrong. Of course, mothers existed. But this community of mothers? I had no idea. It took us a long time to get where we are today. Throughout our journey with infertility, I knew in my heart I was meant to be a mother. I knew that...

Keep Reading

I Wasn’t Sure You’d Be Here To Hold

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother with newborn baby on her chest in hospital bed

I stood naked in my parents’ bathroom. Even with the tub filling, I could hear my family chattering behind the door. I longed to be with them, not hiding alone with my seven-month round belly, sleep-deprived, and covered in pox-like marks. For three weeks, I’d tried Benadryl, lotions, and other suggested remedies to cure the strange rash spreading over my body. No luck. By Christmas Day, my life had been reduced to survival. Day and night, I tried to resist itching, but gave in, especially in my sleep. At 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m., the feeling of fire ants...

Keep Reading

5 Things Your Child’s Kindergarten Teacher Wants You To Know

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child raising hand in kindergarten class

I am a teacher. I have committed my life to teaching children. Of course, before I began this career, I had visions of standing in front of a group of eager-eyed children and elaborating on history, science, and math lessons. I couldn’t wait to see the “lightbulb” moments when students finally understood a reading passage or wrote their first paper. And then I had my first day. Children are not cut out of a textbook (shocking, I know) but as a young 23-year-old, it knocked me right off my feet. I was thrown into the lion’s den, better known as...

Keep Reading

To My Wife: I See Your Sacrifice

In: Marriage, Motherhood
Family of 3 sitting on floor together at home

Selfless. No other word more clearly depicts your commitment to your family. Motherhood is drastically different than you dreamed of your whole life—the dreams of what sort of mama you would be, of how much you would enjoy being a mother even on the tough days. Since day one of our relationship, you’ve been selfless. Since day one of being a mama, you’ve been selfless. Your love for your family shines through on the brightest and darkest days. But on the dark days, it shines the brightest. I can’t count the hours of sleep sacrificed, the tears cried, the time...

Keep Reading