In part one of three in my "Growing in Grace" series, we will tackle "Mom Guilt" and how to stop it.
“Behind every great kid is a mom who’s afraid she’s messing up.”
There are a million things we can feel guilty about (birth, how our babies are fed, working or not working, giving attention, keeping house, being a wife and mom, etc.). Like I tell my kids, "Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD." As a loving mom, it can be easy to allow that love to translate into guilt over missing the mark. But this needs to stop!
If you have been a mom, for even a moment, you have likely encountered what I call “Mom Guilt.” A tricky little (lying) voice that immediately seems to negate all good and purposeful things we have done. It can be very easy, but damaging, to say those three little words: I should have.
Sometimes we are our own worst critics. Add to that the pressures, and even well meaning statements, from the world, and we can end up a mess of guilt and disappointment! The guilt can lead to disconnection, anger, and keeps us from confidence and joy.
I have a preteen. He was very surprised to learn that I, in fact, did not receive instruction on how to raise him when he was born! (Wouldn’t that have been nice?) Most of the time, I didn’t know how to nurture his unique personality, needs, desires, gifts, until I was experiencing it along with him. On occasion he tells us, “Don’t worry. I know you are learning along with me.” That’s right! Sometimes, oftentimes, I AM learning as I go. And that’s okay. Other times, you don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s okay, too.
We can choose to walk in guilt or, instead, we can let grace (unmerited favor- which means we don't have to earn it) be our guide as we walk out this journey as mommies. Be confident knowing you are making the best decisions for the best outcomes in that situation at that time in your life!
Here are five ways to help stop “Mom Guilt”:
1. Recognize when you feel the “Mom Guilt” coming on- If you can catch yourself feeling “Mom Guilt” and the feelings associated with it, you can start taking steps to curb it. Allow yourself any feelings that rise up, and give grace to yourself. Ask for help if these feelings keep you from daily activities.
2. Write it down- Do you have an “ideal mommy” version of yourself in your head and are constantly comparing real life to this version? How often do you reflect on the many amazing, thoughtful, and important things you are doing or have done for yourself and your family? Write down all the things you can think you have done or said that encouraged, helped, nurtured, supported, etc. yourself and your family. Admire and recognize all the hard work and effort you put in! Be sure to add things and re-read this list often.
3. Talk to other moms- Sometimes a group of mommies can really help free you as you realize others have similar struggles and make similar choices. Empower each other! Tell each other often, “You are a GREAT mom!”
4. Take time for yourself- This is easier said than done, but even a few minutes to yourself can help so much. Maybe you find yourself thinking that your own needs are less significant compared to the needs of those in your care. Find something you love doing; and do it! Read, take a walk, exercise, take a long bath, paint or draw, etc. Showing your friends and families that you value yourself can let them know it’s okay for them to value themselves. When you are refreshed it will be easier to give!
5. Mirror messages of truth- There is real research that says if we see, and speak aloud, positive messages we are more likely to believe them. Write down some truths about yourself on your bathroom mirror or as a screen saver on your phone. Say them aloud and let them speak to your heart!
Let's work to #EndMomGuilt in our hearts and minds. Let's empower ourselves and each other, and let's give ourselves loads of GRACE along the way.
What do you feel "Mom Guilt" over and what things do you think you will try to curb it?