Dealing with Mommy Guilt

This week, in honor of Mother’s Day, I’m writing a series about my kids.

Monday was about my oldest, Elijah.
Yesterday was about my princess, Cora.
Today is about the baby, who’s soon to be the big brother, Ezra.

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We thought we were done with two.

When I was pregnant with Eli we said we’d have four. However, the molar pregnancy before Cora, as well as the stress of basically being pregnant for a year, was enough to make me fine with having one boy and one girl.

I started working at our church, making plans for the future, and I was actually enjoying the idea of my body being mine again…and not an incubator. My friends would talk about us having another, but I always adamantly refused the idea; I was done.

Once again, God had other plans. Two weeks after we moved into a bigger apartment I found out I was pregnant. I was shocked, I was worried, I was not ecstatic…which made me feel guilty.

I have this strange theory that children can sense things from the womb. I always wanted my kids to feel that they were wanted, anticipated, and rejoiced over from the moment (or before) we knew about their existence. So my reaction of, “Oh no!” was immediately followed by major guilt.

To make it worse, it took me awhile to come to terms with being pregnant again. I had to let go of all of the plans and dreams I had been visualizing. Everything in my life got pushed two years away. The idea of working and being pregnant, working and having a newborn, did not make me happy. I was a full-time SAHM until Cora was 10-months-old, and when I did start working it was only 20 hours a week for the first year.

Guilt has followed me with him: my response to the pregnancy, going back to work when he was 2 weeks old, and even the first moment I laid eyes on him makes me feel guilty.

Ezra was the biggest of the three. Without getting into details, let’s just say I was in a lot of pain after delivery. So much so that I couldn’t even hold him or look at him for the first 5 minutes. I told Josh, “You need to look at him for me, I can’t.”

And who could resist this squishy face?

I allowed this guilt to infiltrate my life. When he didn’t smile as early as the others did…it was because of something I did. When he wasn’t as affectionate as the other two…it was because of something I didn’t do. I worried that someday Ezra would come to me, upset because he felt unwanted, unloved and unfavored.

The truth is, he’s none of those things. He’s our comedian, he’s an individual, he’s a unique addition to our family. And, he might be my only left-hander, making him and I a pair.

Yesterday I wrote about how God pushed me into mothering a daughter, despite my fears and insecurities. Through Ezra, God has pushed me into acknowledging that I’m not in control, I’m not as capable as I think I am, and I’m fully dependent on God for His daily wisdom, strength and mercy.

Once again, I recognize that what I feared has become one of my biggest blessings. I have a little boy who loves to make us laugh, whose girth is maintained solely by his milk intake because he refuses anything else, and who is a stand-out from the crowd.

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As moms (parents?) we all deal with guilt.

“I fed them fast food for dinner.”

“I yelled too loud and got too angry.”

“I let them watch too much TV.”

We compare ourselves to some imaginary mom who only feeds organic food to her children, never loses her temper, has craft time each afternoon and who’s home is always perfectly in order. I’ve never met this person, and if you know her please don’t introduce me.

What’s interesting to me, is that often the situations that leave us feeling the guiltiest aren’t remembered by our children. I was talking to my mom and she told me about a time from my childhood that has always made her feel guilty: she didn’t let me have a piece of cake. Obviously there’s more to the story, but that’s the gist of it. I have no memory of this guilt-inducing incident. In fact, when she told me the story I realized that I would have done the same thing.

So, here’s my parenting advice: let go of the guilt, love your kids, lean on God and every once in a while have cake for dinner…it’ll make everyone feel better.

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6 thoughts on “Dealing with Mommy Guilt

  1. “mommy guilt” is something i deal with on almost a daily basis. i had corbin too young, i wasn’t equipped to be a mother…i’m harder on my stepkids than my “real” kids…i’m too hard on all the kids, period…i don’t give jorja enough attention, she watches too much tv…this is my inner dialogue. i have to remind myself that God gave me corbin, He intended us for each other… that i love all my children regardless of blood… that i am tough because i want so bad for them to not repeat the mistakes of their parents… that jorja is a well-adjusted, bright, happy little girl who LOVES tinkerbell and that’s ok. I know i’m not perfect, and that sometimes my best is not going to be up to even my standards, but all i can do is keep moving on, and try again tomorrow. somehow this post is comforting to me, because i’ve always looked up to you; you were the one who did everything “right” while i was busy learning my lessons the hard way. i forget sometimes that it’s not just the working single moms who feel overwhelmed and inadequate. I just hang on to the deal i made with God when He assured me that He did, in fact, want me to raise corbin myself. i told Him, “i can’t do this alone, You’re gonna have to help me.” and He does, to this very day. so be encouraged, you are not alone! you are in the same boat with a lot of other moms, and God is the one keeping us afloat!

    • Oh Nellie! I am so not the one who does everything right! I love how you said, “all you can do is keep moving on, and try again tomorrow.” That’s really how it works.
      I think you’re a wonderful mom and it’s obvious that you love your children (including D & S). I think a lot of the problem with this issue comes down to comparison. We compare ourselves to others and feel like we’re not enough, without having any idea of the places where others are struggling. We moms need to cut each other some slack and give each other the benefit of the doubt that we’re all doing the best we can under the circumstances.

  2. I’ve asked my two teens (and tween) about situations in the past that I’ve felt terrible about, and quite often it’s just as you said–they don’t remember.

    The little stuff that I thought was big stuff … already forgotten.

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