Today I want to talk about mom guilt and the pressure we put on ourselves. I was texting with a friend about going over to see her new house, and she apologized in advance for the messy state it would be in. I totally understood and told her the last person I gave a tour to saw our clothes alllll over the floor. As I showed them around, a hint of embarrassment crossed my mind, but I brushed it off and thought, Oh well! This is real life! It’s not always pretty. I still deal with mom guilt, but I’m starting to reign it in and get it under control. Woah, Nelly!
When we were out in Seattle, I really struggled with this. I tried to keep my house clean, make awesome projects for the kids to work on, cook gourmet dinners… all while living in a new place, with few friends or family nearby, during a dark and rainy winter, AND dealing with postpartum depression. Add on top the pressure I felt trying to perfectly maintain our rental house just in case the realtor stopped by, and I had a recipe for disaster.
In April I started doing online counseling, which is a great option for military moms who move around a lot since you can keep the same counselor when you move. My counselor was awesome. She taught me how to have compassion towards myself. I realized that I showed compassion and understanding towards pretty much everyone but myself. I had this ultra-high standard I was trying to maintain, and if I didn’t reach it, I kicked myself, told myself I was stupid, got angry and grumpy. I couldn’t pull myself out of it once my thoughts started the downward spiral. I know now that a lot of that came from my depression, and while a lot of my negative thinking is under control with medicine, I’m still applying what she taught me to help prevent excessive mom guilt.
One question my counselor asked me was, “Where are you getting this standard?” I thought about it and said, “I mean, I guess on Pinterest and Facebook and blogs. I see these posts about how to keep your house clean, how to do hands on sensory activities with your kids, awesome renovation projects, how to be patient.” And in my head I think I added them all up and attributed them to one person, as if someone was all of those things at once, with no flaws, and THAT was the goal I wanted to reach too. Totally unhealthy and unrealistic. Definitely unattainable. Very exhausting and discouraging. But I have awesome news!!! I don’t have to be perfect. I CAN’T be perfect. Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, suffered and died for my sins (and yours too!), and then conquered death once and for all. That is the best news ever! AND IT IS SO FREEING!!! Praise Jesus for the grace and compassion he gives to imperfect people!
My sweet mother-in-law gave me a great book called Gracelaced. Not only is it lovely to look at, filled with watercolor paintings, it also contains lots of practical wisdom and Bible verses. I want to share an excerpt that I liked called Our True Home:
“Are you putting your trust and your worth in your surroundings? Do you struggle to be happy when your environment is not the way you want it to be? Have you found yourself sheltered under the wrong source of refuge? Friend, I know I have.
Brick and mortar, pillows and throws, swept floors and quiet children… our physical environment was never intended to be our true refuge. Turn instead to the unshakable, steady, and strong shelter of our Savior: ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble’ (Psalm 46:1). There we abide; there we dwell; there we find rest.” By Ruth Chou Simons
I’ve been having a pretty frustrating day with the kids today. I feel like we usually have two or three good days to every one bad day, but this week we’ve had rough day after rough day. Luke is teething hard core, and Lyla seems extra tired from preschool and a mild cold. That equals one exhausted mama. At lunch I hit that point where my eyes got big and I was gritting my teeth, probably making a pretty scary face! Have you ever been in that moment?
The events leading up to my super scary mommy face:
- A morning full of Luke biting me and Lyla and throwing tantrums on the floor
- At the library Luke did the loudest scream EVER when I walked eight feet away from him. The whole library collectively said, “Oh my.” I heard them.
- Luke threw his cup down at lunch three times (It was delicious lemonade, come on, dude!)
- Next his spoon and bowl hit the floor.
- When I took off his bib he bit me…
SCARY MOMMY FACE!!! Amazingly, I didn’t lose my temper. I did flick his cheek, however, which made him cry, and will hopefully teach him not to bite even when he’s teething. I sat down and assessed myself and my morning:
- I got the kids out of the house to the library for some songs and books- Education
- I fed them a healthy lunch- Food
- I managed to not lose my temper- Good Example
I felt a little better when I finished my self-assessment, and I told myself, “Hey, you’re doing pretty well despite the circumstances.” My goal is to make it through the rest of the day without getting angry. I will continue to inwardly chant, “Lord, give me strength. Lord, give me patience.” I say this a LOT on the tough days.
I just discovered a fun blog called Wonderoak. The author, Jess, says, “Dear Mama, Don’t enjoy every moment. Instead, find one moment a day to cherish.” (She has tons of great posts you can check out.) Because, let’s be honest, some days with the kids are FAR from the word enjoyable. Tonight, I’ll try to remember the kisses, not the bites.
Last thought- My counselor gave me a challenge. She said, “I challenge you to own this as part of your story, to be real with people instead of putting on a front.” This is part of my reason for starting a blog and owning up to who I am really am, the good and the bad. So I want to pass on this challenge to my mom friends. I want to encourage you to DO YOUR BEST AND FORGET THE REST to avoid mom guilt, and BE REAL with other moms about the joys AND challenges of motherhood. You’re doing amazing! Love, Holly
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:9 NIV