Mother guilt is the worst kind of guilt. Parenting is supposed to be a joy, but seeing past your own imperfections isn’t easy. Still, there has to be a way. There has to be, because we desperately need there to be.
Maybe you can’t relate. Maybe you are one of those moms, like June Cleaver, who did everything right. But I bet even Mrs. Cleaver stayed awake some nights (in her own twin bed), wondering if naming a son “Beaver” was a wise move.
Since one of my nicest neighbors in actually named Beaver, Mrs. Cleaver is off the hook. But for the rest of us living outside TV Land, we need a little more help letting go of mother guilt. Next time it rears its ugly head, try reminding yourself of the following truths:
- Feeling guilty doesn’t change the past. All it does it ruin your enjoyment of the present.
- Being a perfect mom is actually detrimental to your children’s development. They need to see you be human in order to navigate their relationships with other humans. If you never do anything wrong, they’ll expect everyone else around them to behave perfectly, too.
- Parenting is the most challenging job on the planet. If you think an astrophysicist deserves a little slack for inverting a formula incorrectly now and then, so do you – times 1,000!
- Making mistakes as a mother provides opportunities to apologize to your children. Later on, when they’re ready to take responsibility for their own failures, your humility and vulnerability will provide a road map for apologizing to those they’ve wronged.
- Just because things may not have turned out the way you envisioned or hoped for your family, doesn’t mean you weren’t called to be a mom. God gave you the children you have for a reason and he knows what he’s doing.
- You are not in control of the outcome. You did your best (hopefully), and you really can trust God with the rest. He’s an expert at weaving our shortcomings into a beautiful tapestry of grace and redemption.
- Your children get to choose their relationships, just like everyone else. If your adult child doesn’t want to have a relationship with you, don’t take it personally. All you can do is wish them a happy life and focus on creating the same for yourself. You both deserve it!
- If you have forgiven your own parents for their imperfections, then you can also forgive yourself. If you haven’t, you can start today. It’s never too late to give yourself and others the gift of forgiveness.
- You aren’t a complete failure as a mother. Remember all the things you did right and continue to do right! Remember, also, to be grateful for everything you are learning from motherhood, and how much it has changed you and enlarged your heart.
- Love and guilt cannot coexist. You have to let go of mother guilt in order to truly love. The best mom is a loving mom – loving toward herself, loving toward her children, and loving toward all of us other imperfect moms.
After struggling with mother guilt for over a decade, I’ve finally reached a place where I’m ready to let it go. It is, after all, a choice. I can choose to keep punishing myself for being imperfect, or I can spend my energy continuing to learn and grow and love.
I can also remind myself my children aren’t perfect either. But, I better not do that very often, because knowing me I’ll make that all my fault – and I’ve got enough faults as it is. Instead, I’d rather remember this . . . Good moms let you lick the beaters. Great moms turn them off first. Who knew motherhood could be as simple as that?