Is it seriously almost July?? On some days summer seems to be flying by, but on others…you know those “I’m SO Bored” days, it is as if the second hand on my watch is taking 60 hours to circle. At the beginning of June I challenged myself to a New Summer Attitude. One filled with appreciating each moment and being truly present to my children, rather than my normal, “When are these kids going back to school?” attitude. But in this quest for a new attitude I have discovered one issue that is sucking the life out of me…Mommy Guilt.
As I’m cleaning the kitchen after breakfast the inner voice starts, “Clean up later, play with your kids now!” So I do, then the voice says, “This playing is great, but Katie needs to be working on communication!” So I switch gears, then the voice responds to my son complaining that I never play with him, “You don’t, bless his heart, that poor 3rd child! Oh and by the way, your house is a wreck, there are still breakfast dishes in the sink!” Then the cycle starts back at the beginning and continues all day long with me never accomplishing anything. Nothing I do is ever enough for ME!
I have an image of what a “good” mom is supposed to be, she’s featured in those Mother’s Day Hallmark commercials. She is patient 24/7 and NEVER yells at her kids, her home always looks as if her entire extended family is coming over, she always has healthy meals and would never think about using spray sunscreen. And guess what? On most days I feel the polar opposite of this mom, because my life is not “normal”.
Instead my oldest daughter is tube fed manufactured formula and many of our summer days are spent at the doctor’s office or therapy rather than licking popsicles in a hammock. I often think, I’d be a better mom if my life was “normal”. The guilt is intensified by Katie’s impairments. I know in my heart there is a neurological reason she can’t talk or walk independently, but I often wonder why I can’t fix it all by pushing harder. I ask myself, if she had a different mother would she be doing more in life. That inner voice is exhausting!!
So I pray, and recall a conversation I had with my priest a few years back (because yes, my mommy guilt is an ongoing issue). I asked him if guilt is from God or if it is just made up in my head. He said you truly have to look at the cause, guilt can actually be a grace from God when we are doing something wrong. But feeling guilty because you don’t live up to an image you set for yourself (hello, Hallmark commercial) comes from your ego…WHAT? He said when you are focusing on an image of perfection you are too focused on what you appear to be and that leads to false guilt.
We were each made in the likeness of God so when we set unreasonable goals and then beat ourselves up for not obtaining them it is like a slap in Gods face. It is the same as saying God you messed up, I’m no good. But He never messes up! The false guilt stills my joy, it constantly distracts me from living in the moment and enjoying my perfectly not so normal life. I’m too busy thinking about what I SHOULD be doing.
I don’t think I’m alone in my mommy guilt, I recently saw a video of moms watching their kids on camera talk about why they loved them. Each mom sobbed in disbelief, they couldn’t believe the special moments and attributes the kids were describing. If I could only see myself through my children’s eyes. Every day is dedicated to them, I am the only mommy they will ever have and in their tiny world I am the center. If Katie could speak I know she would say you are doing enough Mommy, you love me and that is more than enough.
As I strive for this New Summer Attitude I have to also look through Gods forgiving eyes. He does not have unreasonable expectations, He simply wants me to get up every day and LOVE. It is that plain and simple! It is okay if Legos line my stairs and my kids eat an occasional Oreo, as long as live for Him. As long as I never take one moment for granted and stop “guilting” my life away.