I have a crippling fear that I’m not doing this parenting thing right. For every 90% that I do well, I focus on the 10% that went wrong. What I messed up. How I yelled. How I sat on the couch playing Candy Crush, ignoring my children because WHO hasn’t done that occasionally?
I love to read or hear inspiring stories of people who had great parents. Of people who had THAT mom, who was either kind or nurturing or firm or fierce. Of people who grew up wanting to be like their parents because they had modeled such a great example for them.
And then it gets overwhelming, because I take ALL those traits of great parents, and realize how poorly I’m doing on them all, and then I get..
“My mom used to read to us everyday. We would curl up the couch and feel loved and now I’m a successful adult because of all the quality literature we read.”
Reality- the couch is mine. I can cuddle for about a minute, then I kick the kids off the couch and stretch out. We have floors if they need to sit. And we don’t read nearly often enough even though we love it.
“My mom was tough. If she said something, we knew she meant it. You couldn’t get anything by her.”
Reality- my kids know my resistance to their negotiations only lasts as long as my willpower against cookies. I recently told my youngest that he would have to eat his uneaten dinner taco for breakfast. He turned to his dad and said “She will forget about it.” The kid had cereal for breakfast. (But I DID remember and he got the taco for lunch.)
“My mom taught us how to clean. She would work beside us, until we knew how to get the job done, and expect the job to be done right.”
Reality- “Kids, clean your room. Figure it out. You won’t get dinner until it’s done. I know you will probably get sidetracked playing a game together, and because you are actually getting along, I will forgive you for not cleaning your room, I will feed you dinner, and then clean your room myself. Then I will tell you to notice it and thank me because this is the LAST time.”
“My mom taught us the value of making good food choices.”
Reality- everyone feeds their kids junk sometimes. Admit it. But I did make my kids eat tomatoes for snack once. They loved it. I’m sure they will choose to do that again.
It goes on and on. I dwell on my messy house (as if the kids really care), the too-much screen time because I know they will be quiet for a while, the inability to sit still because I don’t enforce it. (Probably a result of too much screen time, I know. I read The Facebook.)
Mom guilt. Am I alone here?
So what do we do? There are a million good things and it’s impossible to do them all.
Chances are, if we did them all, we would be so amazing that everybody would hate us and then we would be miserable. Who needs that?
I heard somewhere that one of the biggest contributing factors to healthy, stable adults is growing up in a household with parents who love each other. (I know it’s not a guarantee. People make their own choices.)
That’s something I can do. I can love the heck out my husband. We can be on the same team.
I also read somewhere that loving Jesus and letting Him be a central part of our life, our discussions, our decisions, our basis for living- that helps too. I can’t force that on my kids, but I wouldn’t want to. I just want them to see what an amazing gift it is to be able to know and talk with my Creator any time I want, to be able to trust that He is orchestrating this crazy life and is in control and I am not, and that He can take my burdens away.
Even the burden of Mom Guilt.
I can’t do it all. I can’t be enough to help my kids learn all that I think that they should know. I can’t completely recreate all the wonderful memories from my own childhood. I can’t possibly make every article that I read on Facebook become my Bible, my life-instructions. It’s too much. Even when it’s good stuff.
But I can love Jesus. And I can love my husband. And I can pray and trust that God will fill in the huge gaps where I am not enough but He is.
That’s what matters, isn’t it?
Farewell, Mom Guilt