At first glance, most people would believe I’ve got really got it together in this area and have no reasons to feel the way I’m about to share with you. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Can I just be really honest and let you in on something I’ve been struggling with lately? Truth is, I’ve been dealing with some serious “mom guilt”. The kind that could make me question everything about my mothering abilities.
The weight of motherhood feels crushing some days and I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to feel that way. I’ve had to realize that far too much of that is self-inflicted because I have believed the outcome of my mothering to be far more dependent upon my ability to be “the perfect mom” than it actually is.
I know I know. To the outside world maybe that sounds a bit ridiculous and over-dramatized. But then again we really only see through tiny, shaded windows into the real lives of others. But something in me just yearns to tell the truth, the whole truth about life; because hiding our struggles and pretending we have it all together never helped anyone anywhere.
So here goes my truth on motherhood at present…
One day it seemed like my kids were turning into decent individuals and them “baam!” Chaos. Fighting. Bitterness. Anger. Disobedience. Entitlement. Flat out ungrateful words and actions.
I could blame it all on the fact that my kids are growing up and going through some sort of phase that is making parenting in general a lot more challenging than I thought it was when I was changing diapers and cleaning up spilled food.
If only the work of motherhood stayed that simple.
But more important than a solution or an end to my parenting woes, I’m discovering two important truths through this more difficult mothering season.
The first is that I can try and try with all my might, but the truth is this- I cannot control how my children turn out. Period. It’s just not on me.
I am responsible to love, care for, and teach them; but that’s it! I cannot take upon my shoulders the burden of controlling how they turn out or it will crush me.
The rest is between them and God.
The second thing is this. And this is a big one…
If my motivation as a parent is out of guilt or manipulation or “see what a great mom I am!” I am done for.
The why of guilt doesn’t even matter all that much. It is the further damage that is done when we allow ourselves to be manipulated into operating out of guilt or the need for perfection, in any role of life.
Guilt says “you’ve screwed up” and leads to shame which says “you aren’t enough/you’re bad” which leads to perfectionistic tendencies which continually scream at us “YOU HAVE TO BE BETTER!
That’s A LOT of pressure! It all eventually leads to this downward spiral of anger and frustration with ourselves, that tends to come out as control and manipulation towards those in our lives.
You’ll know a person being suffocated by guilt and shame, they’re the “Type A,” short-tempered, angry ones who always seem agitated and need the world around them to be just so-so.
“I want to, but I just can’t get a grip on how I feel and how I treat people! WHY does everything being perfect matter so much to me!?”
I’m not calling myself any of this, but I am recognizing that apart from the power and grace of Jesus, this is the natural bend, my natural default. This is the real darkness of my soul when my heart is not consistently penetrated by the light of truth and grace.
Guilt. Shame. Insecurity.
These are markers of a person who has lost their identity and forgotten their role. And sometimes I forget mine, and in doing so, I take the entire weight of the world upon my own shoulders and become crushed by all the ways I just don’t seem to measure up.
The real crux of the matter is that Jesus said “…my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30) So anytime we start to feel crushed beneath the weight of our role, we have probably taken upon ourselves a load we were never intended to carry.
I’ve had to call myself out on some serious BS lately.
I mean sure, I could chalk all of this up to stress, responsibilities, my OCD tendencies, my personality, or to taking myself too seriously; but the painful truth is that the root of this and most shame and guilt is flat out PRIDE.
Which Jesus himself said is pretty much the worst of the worst when it comes to sin.
Have you ever seen a mom with grown kids who turned out successfully who took all the credit like their kids were their own personal product line? Yeah. It’s nauseating.
Whether I want to admit it or not, I get bogged down in guilt, shame, and disappointment when life doesn’t go my way when I have believed myself to be better, more powerful than I am, then I get confused when my efforts don’t pay off like I believed they should.
And when we expect perfection from ourselves and others, we might need to take a good hard look at the throne we have placed ourselves up on and check to see if maybe we’ve knocked God off to get there.
Truth is, try and try as I might, I am far from perfect at pretty much everything.
My kids might turn out to be good, successful individuals who love God with all their hearts, and they might not.
Most of that isn’t up to me… or my parenting skills.
But one thing for sure, I’ve got a good and merciful Father who sees all the many cracks where I fall short and fills them with His perfection…day after day, over and over and over again.
And so if in the end anything good at all comes out my 20 something years of this season of motherhood, it will not be because I was enough, but because He was everything.
“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9