There are two kinds of mommy guilt.

1) Guilt over not being Pinterest- perfect.

2) Guilt over things we really muck up.

There are lots of great pieces written about giving up the idea of perfect. Moms desperately need to let ourselves off the hook of perfection. You  end up dangling like a dead fish from that hook. Besides- the worm is plastic. There’s no reward, only pain and frustration. (Ask my kids about all my mommy-fails in attempting to force perfection…. they have most awesome stories to share…. let’s just say- they’re epic. Sorry for the fishing reference- we just got back from vacation;)  )

That type of mommy- guilt is not the point of today’s post. Others have already said it well. 

I’m talking about the other kind. 

Those times when you REALLY mess up. And feel, justifiably, guilty.

  • You totally blow your top and lose it with your kid. You say hurtful things you regret and can’t take back. (Been there, done that. Wore the invisible t-shirt of shame to prove it.)
  • You allow your own fears to dictate choices that impact your children negatively. (Let’s just say my phobia of dentists and shots have negatively affected my kids :( )
  • <Insert your failure (s) here>

Guilt. (Mommy or otherwise) Is it always bad?

guilt  (glt)

n.

1.a. The fact of being responsible for the commission of an offense. See Synonyms at blame.

b. Law The fact of having been found to have violated a criminal law; legal culpability.
c. Responsibility for a mistake or error.
2.a. Remorseful awareness of having done something wrong.

b. Self-reproach for supposed inadequacy or wrongdoing.

Well- according to the dictionary— (see above) guilt is just a part of life. When we feel guilty for things we were wrong for doing (or not doing) that’s also called: conviction. Conviction, is a good thing.

  • Conviction can the door for reconciliation and change.
  • Conviction is evidence of a tender heart.

When I feel Mommy guilt… I have a choices, I can:

  • Deny it and try to pretend like I wasn’t wrong. (Hello, I;m the mom, I always THINK I’m right.. but honestly? Not so much.)
  • Blame someone else. (The Blame game can get pretty creative….justsayin- I’m good at it.)
  • Allow guilt to cause an over rotation and try to be perfect to “make up” for the screw up. (Doesn’t work. Not toys, Not special outings, Not nothing. Been there. tried it all. Total fail.)
  • Use guilt to beat ourselves into an emotional puddle that paralyzes us.

Or, I can:

  • Allow guilt to provoke a sense of conviction.
  • Admit I was wrong. (Painful, but survivable- and guess what? Kids already know it’s true anyway.)
  • Take ownership of my behavior and it’s impact on my kids. (I know that what I did, hurt you, I’m sorry. I was wrong.)
  • Allow my kid to tell me how they feel. (Listening to how they feel can hurt…. but it’s also an intimate time. it’s Okay to be hurt and angry at our parents. It’s part of all relationships.)
  • Make a plan for improvement. (What will I do next time?)
  • Make restitution (Change a decision, make things right) where necessary or possible. (Shots can be caught up, teeth can be fixed, words can’t be taken back- but healing life giving words can be a blessing of love that covers hurt with consistency- over time.)

How do you know the difference between false mommy-guilt and real guilt?

  • If you’re feeling “not good enough” because you’re comparing yourself to another parent- that’s a clue it could be false guilt.
  • If your measure of a good parent is more Pinterest than biblical…. It’s probably false guilt.
  • By asking for input from people who know and love you. I have people who know and love me and will tell me the truth. (Even if they have to run after they do it.) “Tracey- you’re being pretty harsh. Stop riding that kid.” Or “Tracey, is that really how you want to parent?” Are questions I’ve had to answer way more often than I’d care to admit. Giving people you trust permission to be honest, is a necessity to parenting well. I can’t see the back of my head- so I don’t cut my hair. I also can’t always see through my own emotion or experiences to make wise decisions- I need someone to tell me what they see and give me more perspective.

Mommy Guilt. It’s part of Mommy-life. I’m not sure we can every be free of it- because we’ll always make mistakes. It’s how we respond to it that makes the difference. We can beat ourselves up and give our kids parents who are even more hurt than we were- or we can allow guilt to become conviction that drives us to the Grace of God and seek to honor him and our kids.. even here- when we mess up. Big time.

Modeling for our kids how to handle bad choices and mistakes turns a failure into a gift.  (Nt one they’ll appreciate at the time- but later? When THEY mess up? They’ll have a model for how to respond. ;)

Dear Lord- I love you. I love the children you have blessed me with. And I hate that I screw up- all the time. In big ways and small ways. Help me to take responsibility for what’s mine, give me wisdom to know what;s not- and help e to deal with all of it in a way that honors you. I love you lord- thank you for a tender heart- help me never become hardened to hurting others. In Jesus name- amen. 

Here is a verse that I cling to when I make mistakes- I hope it brings you the same peace it does me…. because at the end of the day- I know that I know that God loves me- and I love my kids….and that makes a difference.

1 Peter 4:8

New International Version (NIV)

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.