Mom Life

When the Mom-Guilt is Just Too Much

I think every mom has been there.

The to-do list is a thousand – maybe a million – miles long, so you set the kids in front of the TV so that you can cross just a few things off the list. You get on your phone to do one thing, to answer one text, and look up 30 minutes later realizing you got sucked in – yet again. The kids are not doing what they should or behaving the way you would like, and you freak out a little too much, raise your voice a little too loudly, or {gasp} you spank them out of anger.

You know it’s not what should be happening. Their minds and hands should be engaged in learning, not being dulled by the lights and sounds of the television. You should be paying attention to them, not letting the dirty house get to you so much, not let the phone distract you so much, not be so caught up in the things YOU want to get done. You’re the mom and you are supposed to steward them, to guide them and teach them, to be present and graceful in all things and at all times. And you DEFINITELY shouldn’t have spanked them. Haven’t you read that article?

Listen – I’m not here to judge or discuss parenting styles at all. That’s not what this post is about. And yes, OF COURSE you need to keep a somewhat clean house. Again – that’s not what this post is about. I share those examples because they are things I personally have done or felt – and then experienced the immense guilt that follows. I share, because just the other morning I told my son to get dressed for school while I finished getting dressed myself. I reminded him multiple times that he needed to be getting dressed, because I could hear him playing. I asked him if he was getting dressed, and he said yes. And then I walked in the room and there was a giant pile of clothes on the floor next to the bunk bed – his “jumping pile.” This pile consisted of dirty clothes dumped out of the hamper, clean clothes not yet put away, bedding, pillows, and stuffed animals. Dirty clothes that had mud, food, even pee on them – all mixed in with the clean ones. And we had literally no time to do anything about it, because at this point he was still not dressed and at that point we were going to be late if we didn’t hurry.

Y’all. I freaked out. I was so frustrated, so upset, so angry. And I responded that way. I didn’t take a minute to breathe. I didn’t stop and think, “he’s only four.” All I was thinking about was how I had told him multiple times to get dressed and he didn’t listen. How all of the clothes were now mixed up and I had literally no idea what was clean or dirty, and it would ALL have to be washed again. How he would most likely be wearing dirty clothes to school now. And again how he didn’t listen.

These are the moments that haunt you as a mom. These are the moments that make you question everything you do, everything you say. And you become so vulnerable and so guilty and so torn down, that the lies just creep right in so swiftly and quietly that you don’t notice they’re lies in the first place.

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You’re not a good mom. You aren’t cut out for this. Why did you decide to be a stay-at-home mom in the first place – you can’t do this. You’ll never be good enough. And the cycle continues. The lies keep you down, and you begin to believe them.

 

Cancel. Clear. Delete. It’s not true, and they are lies. Remember that.

Later, once I dropped off my son at school and my two year old was strapped back into his car seat, I took a moment to just cry. And I got to thinking about it all. How the lies creep in so easily. How the cycle goes ’round and ’round. How so many moms struggle with the same guilt. In the age of Pinterest and Instagram perfection, social media only adds to the immense pressure we already feel as moms to be perfect. So many moms insist this is the way to parent or that is the way to discipline, and the mommy wars get so utterly crazy with everyone attacking one another because they aren’t doing it right; but deep down inside we feel like it’s also us not doing it right.

So for the times when the mom-guilt is just too much, I decided to compile a list of some practical things that have helped me get through.

 

1. Have a Good Cry

I’m a firm believer in crying. Whenever I cry, it’s like a release for me. I’m releasing all of the pent-up everything and pouring it out through my tears. I almost always feel better after I cry. Psychology Today even released an article in 2010 about the health benefits of crying. According to PT, emotional tears shed stress hormones and toxins that accumulate during stress, and that crying stimulates the production of endorphins – the body’s “feel good” hormones. Crying literally helps you feel better. So if you feel like you need to then go ahead, let yourself cry for a minute.

2. Talk With a Mom Friend

Something else that helps me is just talking to a friend that understands. Yes, talk to your husbands too – that’s important. But I really feel like mom friends understand in a way that husbands can’t. Mom friends know what it’s like to deal with the things that we do day in and day out – because they do too. Even something as simple as “I’m dealing with mom-guilt today” helps. A friend who has been there can help encourage you, build you up, and will listen when you need it. Sometimes as moms, that is the most important thing. To remember you are not alone gives you that little bit of strength to keep going. To realize that you aren’t the only one who has made this mistake or struggled in that way, and to have someone help you work through it all is an immense relief.

3. Speak Truths Over Yourself – and Reject the Lies

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This one is so important. It’s so easy to believe the lies that creep in, but when you do it keeps you down and in a cycle of guilt and mistakes. Consciously and out loud, speak truths over yourself and reject the lies that you have believed. It’s important to speak these things and not just think them. You may have heard of “speaking things into existence.” And therapists often use something called cognitive behavior therapy, or CBT, to train patients to think differently. This is along those same lines – speak truths over yourself until you believe them. For example

  • Lie: I’m a bad mom.
    • Truth: I am a loving mom who made a mistake. My mistakes do not define me; rather, I learn from them and become a better mom through them. 
  • Lie: I’m not cut out for this. I can’t do this.
    • Truth: I was chosen to be my children’s mother – me, and nobody else. God has equipped me with the tools I need to raise them well, and I will rely on Him to help me.

You get the idea. When you feel the lies creeping in, do not accept them as truths. Reject them and find a corresponding truth to speak over yourself. Continue to do this daily and you will notice a difference in your thought patterns over time.

 

4. Decide What Kind of Mom You Want to Be

This is a fairly new idea to me, but it occurred to me recently – if I am not 100% happy with my actions and reactions as a mom, I need to change it. And I can’t change it until I know the direction I want to go. Duh, right? You would think so, but so many of us walk through life reacting to things instead of being proactive. It’s time to change that. If you want to be a more gentle parent, start taking practical steps to do so. Research ways to be more gentle, join communities and Facebook groups. If it’s not necessarily a parenting style, but specific things that you want to do more, and others you want to do less, then find and take practical steps to make it happen.

I’ll give you an example. I came across this blog recently about how to use hair ties to stop being an angry mom. And honestly, I thought it was kind of brilliant. It’s all about re-training your brain, like I said above. The writer explains that responding out of anger becomes a habit, and that using this trick is a practical way to break the habit and re-train your brain to respond and react differently. Hair ties did not work for me because they were just too tight on my wrist; I decided to use bangle bracelets instead. Bangle bracelets work fairly well because I find them rather annoying (they get in the way constantly), so I did not easily forget about them. I’ve also joined some gentle parenting (GP) Facebook groups to learn more about ways to respond to my children more gently. I don’t know if the parenting style is 100% for me, but it doesn’t hurt to learn, since that’s the direction I want to move towards.

Some people think GP style is permissive; but from what I have gathered so far, it is more-so taking into account that the child is a person with thoughts and feelings, and learning how to guide those properly and teach them without responding out of anger. It’s not punishing them for the feelings they have, but teaching them what those feelings mean an how to navigate them. I still have to decide how this parenting style fits in with me personally, but it’s at least the direction I want to take.

How did I come to this decision? Honestly, I was thinking about God and how He “parents” us. As a Father, He does not discipline us and punish us – He gives us grace, love, and mercy. He does allow us to experience the consequences of our actions, but He does not dole out punishments every time we disappoint Him; it’s not in His character. Every time I reacted out of anger or frustration, this would come to mind and I would just get frustrated with myself. Which leads me to my last point.

5. Remember How God Sees You – and Fix Your Eyes on Him

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Remember that God gives you grace. Remember that He loves you and that He is moved by the sound of your voice, even when you mess up. Remember that He is proud when you learn and grow, just like we are proud of our kids. Fix your eyes on the only One who is a perfect parent, and receive His grace to move forward. Not one of us is perfect, not even one, and the guilt can bury you if you focus on it. So instead focus on Jesus and His love. His grace covers all of our imperfections, and in our weakness He is glorified. Let that comfort you, let it lift you up out of the ashes of your guilt and walk forward with Him. Forgive yourself as He forgives you. And then go love on your kids.

Have anything you would add to this list? What helps you when you’re struggling with mom-guilt? Let me know in the comments!

Keep on sparkling.

Kate

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15 thoughts on “When the Mom-Guilt is Just Too Much”

  1. Oh my this is a powerful post! I feel this so much being a mom who works fulltime outside the home, homeschools and tries to be the “perfect” wife. I do try to remind myself that God did chose my son specifically for me and I can do this. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sarah! And thanks for sharing. I worked outside the home for the first 4 years (stopped in August) and it was really hard not feeling the guilt. God has you in your season for a time and a reason! You’re doing a great job. I can’t imagine homeschooling AND working full time!!!

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  2. Talking with a mom friend is a BIG HELP! And remembering how much God loves you and is involved in your life. When I notice a pattern of overreacting, I try to step back and have someone else step in for a bit, while I go for a walk (praying and singing snippets of hymns). Makes such a difference!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right! My friends have always been so supportive and remind me I’m not alone. And my hubby is so great at recognizing when I need a break even before I do, and offering me to take the kids for a while. ❤️

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  3. This is a wonderful and very raw post. Every mom needs to know they’re not alone especially in times such as these. Leaning on God definitely lightens the load and makes things manageable. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tis post is so powerful, and I thank you for sharing your experience. I know that I have definitely been there! Having a good cry, and someone to talk it out with is always helpful for me. I love that you say to choose what kind of mom you want to be. That is such a great reminder!

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