Ep 22 - How to find freedom from MOM GUILT

Today we are going to talk about the 3 different ways Mom Guilt manifests itself and how to find freedom from it before it drives you crazy!

Transcript

My two teenage children had been gone for a week at their dad’s house when I got the text message asking if they could facetime me.

I knew what was coming and it made me sick to my stomach.

Was this really happening? 

I didn’t want to believe it was possible, but the reality was literally staring at me through my phone screen when they called.

My daughter was abnormally stiff.

My son was already crying. 

It was obvious this was a conversation they were nervous about having with me. 

And then, without so much as a “How was your weekend?” they dropped the bomb on my heart.

“We decided to move in with Dad.”

I swear the sound of my heart breaking was audible but they didn’t seem to hear it. 

I tried to stay in control of my voice, but inside, I was screaming. 

The week that followed was a combination of sadness and anger. 

After spending 36 hours straight in bed, my husband scooped me and our 3 kids up and took us on an out-of-town trip in an attempt to distract me. 

It was a valiant effort and I truly appreciated it, but I couldn’t not think about it. 

My thoughts poured over everything I had done as their mom for 14 and 16 years respectively and regretting every minute I wasn’t the perfect mom.

Was I the reason they wanted to move away? 

Was it my fault our family was splitting up? 

Could I have done anything differently so this could have been prevented?

I have made no secret of my parently failures. 

In fact, my first 3 episodes of this podcast highlight what was quite possibly the worst 3 years of my life as a wife and mother.  

I am more than willing to be transparent about the times I screwed up, overreacted, was selfish and self-focused.  

I don’t share these stories because I am proud of them, I do it because I am not the only imperfect mom out there. 

I’m not alone and neither are you!

Mom guilt is REAL and after nearly 2 decades of being a mom to both girls and boys, spanning 5 unique personalities, parenting through a divorce, and through a marriage saved from divorce, I have come to understand that, while I am no expert, I have some wisdom to impart on this subject. 

Today we are going to talk about the 3 different ways Mom guilt manifests itself and how to find freedom from it before it drives you crazy! 

First, Mom guilt starts early and stems from fear of the unknown.

No matter how much experience you had with kids before you have a baby every first-time mom has doubts about her ability and, at some point, fears that she is getting it all wrong. 

If God created you to be a mom, wouldn’t it be easier? I mean, He created all these animals with instincts to just “know” how to take care of their young, right?

So why don’t we have those same instincts? 

It’s not like polar bears read parenting books but somehow they figure out how to raise their young on a freezing tundra.  

So what do we moms do?

We ask questions.

TONS of questions.

Do you wake your newborn up to eat or let her sleep? 

Speaking of eating, is breast really best, or is bottle-feeding okay? 

If I start co-sleeping with my infant, am I setting myself up for having a 4-year-old who can’t sleep alone? 

My baby won’t stop crying!

Is it colic, gas, acid-reflux, teething?

Can you spoil a baby by holding it too much?

And it’s not just a new baby that throws you for a loop. 

Each stage of parenting leaves you feeling like you are starting from scratch. 

Never underestimate the fear that can creep in when your kid gets on the bus for the first time, asks to go to a birthday party of a friend you have never met, or drives away in a car without a responsible adult sitting in the passenger seat.

If you haven’t reached these stages yet, please understand that I’m not trying to scare you.

I just want you to know that fear is a normal part of being a mom and it can make you feel guilty because you make decisions that you question or regret, either instantly or down the road. 

And then the BIG question - when should you consider having another baby? 

How will it affect the other kids you already have? Will there be jealousy? 

What if they are too close in age and fight? 

What if they are too far apart in age and fight? 

Not to mention you are already exhausted, can you even handle another one?

So how do you find freedom from Mom guilt that comes from fear of the unknown in parenting? 


Mathew 6:34
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." 

I will follow that with Psalm 56:3 "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you."

If only it was that easy, right? 

As I mentioned in Ep 20, telling me “just don’t worry about it” is like telling me not to breathe. 

(For the record, that doesn’t stop my husband from saying it. God love him, he tries to help but this is not the answer.) 

That being said, when I look back on the worries I had about my kids’ futures, I laugh because of how unexpected their futures are turning out to be. 

With time, comes perspective and here is what really matters the most. 

Make a habit of staying close to Jesus! 

You will make thousands of decisions as a mom and you won’t always know if they are good or not at the moment. 

What seems to have worked could backfire later and what seemed worthless may pay off in the long run. 

You will make hundreds of decisions every day as a mom and these decisions are a lot easier when you are walking with the Lord and trusting that His Word gives you the foundation for ALL of them.

While there is no bible verse that explicitly details the age your daughter should pierce her ears or how old your son must be before he can ask that cute girl out on a date, the underlying principles are there. 

From modesty to marriage, respect to responsibility, God has laid the groundwork from which you can base these decisions through the Bible. 

When you stay in the word and study what it says about who God calls all Christians to be and raise your kids with that in mind, you are trusting in Him.

Of you won’t always get it right, but He will protect your kids from your mistakes. 

Does that mean there will never be consequences for a bad parenting decision? 

I really wish I could promise you that, but that’s not how it works. 

But you can trust that He can make something amazing come out of the worst scenario. 

When you do your part as a mom by studying His Word and praying that He help you trust Him with the outcome of every parenting decision you make, you will find yourself free from the Mom Guilt that comes from fear.

Do you struggle to spend time in the Bible? 

Because if so, you are one of many busy, overwhelmed, exhausted moms that do and there is no shame in that game unleeeessss you do nothing about it.

I created a 5 day email series that is designed to help moms like you and me grow their relationship with God in just 5 mins a day. 

(This email series is now a FREE video series: How to Overcome the 4 Biggest Struggles Keeping Your From Consistent Quiet Time)

Second, Mom guilt grows as your children grow and stems from comparison to other moms and their children.

As babies become toddlers, moms become competitive. 

Mom guilt slowly starts to seep into your psyche as you begin to compare your child to others and start questioning his or her development based on your parenting. 

Whose child walked first, talked first, has started feeding herself already? 

Why isn’t your child sleeping through the night yet? Did you ruin her with your bedtime routine or lack thereof? 

That mom in playgroup said her kid potty trained in 3 days and you’ve started and stopped half a dozen times because your son just can’t seem to get it. 

What are you doing wrong? 

Your BFF makes everything from scratch and only feeds her family homegrown and organic food.

Is your picky eater going to grow up with unhealthy eating habits because you fed her nothing but pb&j and chicken nuggets as a toddler? 

Your elementary-age kid is struggling with schoolwork. 

Is she doomed to fail in life because she can’t master these necessary skills as fast as the other kids in her class?

And then there are the questions about discipline. 

Now there is a HOT topic when it comes to comparing parenting notes. 

Everybody has an opinion of what works and doesn’t work and the results of said opinions vary greatly! 

When do you start and what is appropriate? 

Are you raising a spoiled child if you give in to his tantrum in the middle of the cereal aisle to save yourself from the embarrassment of his screams?

What is the proper response when your 2-year-old looks straight in your eye and chucks his sippy cup across the table? 

Does spanking teach that hitting others is okay? 

As if your worries about getting this right aren’t big enough, you have the dad that you need to share this responsibility with. 

I promise that his opinion and participation matter in a very big way but that doesn’t mean you two will always agree. 

Who is right?

The comparison trap is one that I know all too well. 

The age of your kido matters not.

Seeing other children grow, learn, and mature faster than your own leads you down the path of regret that you didn’t do things differently when they were younger. 

And “younger” could mean 6 weeks old as compared to 6 months old or 6 years compared to 16.

You feel inferior to other moms that did it “better” than you. I’ve been that mom.

I have also been the mom on the other side of the coin.

The one that feels like I know it all because I have been there, done that so I clearly have it all figured out. 

The one that judges the mom with the screaming kid in the cereal aisle.

Oh, friend, how pride comes before the fall! 

Parenting is nothing if it is not humbling. 

My 4th child made me question every parenting skill I thought I had. 

She was soooooo challenging and it is only because we got pregnant again so fast that we even had a 5th child because she made me want to quit the whole “being a mom” thing on a daily basis.

How do find freedom from the Mom guilt that stems from comparing yourself and your children to other moms and their kids?

Galatians 6:4-5 "But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load."

Comparing the growth and maturity of my children to others and even to each other has been fruitless! 

I have learned that no kid develops at exactly the same rate. 

personalities respond to the same parenting techniques very differently. 

Just because your kid is the same age as your friend’s doesn’t mean your parenting will or should look the same. 

Temperament and family dynamic matter. 

It’s not nature vs nurture - it is nature and nurture.

Beyond that, I have discovered that things I had the energy for when I was a younger mom with 2 kids just aren’t physically possible a decade later with 5. 

I am not a worse mom now because I don’t spend hours doing crafts and playing board games with my kids.

I am not a better mom now because hills that I was willing to die on years ago are no longer concerns for me. 

In a nutshell, the guilt that came from comparing yourself to other moms and even yourself as a mom at a different time in your life isn’t worth it. 

God gave your kids an imperfect mom that is perfect for them. 

There is no other mom that they should have and when you accept that, you will be free from the Mom guilt that comes from comparison. 

Finally, Mom guilt wreaks havoc on you when it stems from control.

UGH! 

As if the first 2 forms of Mom guilt didn’t come close enough to hit it home, this one hits it right out of the ballpark! 

I actually did an entire episode on this topic. 

In Ep 20 - Do you crave control? I open with my failed attempt at controlling my middle daughter’s less-than-stellar ability to focus on completing a task efficiently. 

I compare my efforts to attempting to herd a swarm of butterflies and that is quite possibly the most accurate analogy I have ever made on this podcast. 

Listen, you can train your children, guide your children, discipline your children, but you cannot control your children. 

God gave them the same free will He gave you and they WILL use it despite your best attempts to stifle it.

Laying out a fool-proof parenting plan guaranteed to serve up perfectly behaved, well-mannered, hard-working, happy children is an absolute waste of your time. 

I know cuz I’ve tried it. 

Building on what I said about different personalities responding differently to the same parenting techniques, I would also like to add that what works once may never work again.

I learned that the hard way after spending years questioning why my oldest daughter thrived on structure and routine my 2nd & 3rd seemed to be allergic to it. 

What worked for her, just didn’t work for them at all.

Of course, it makes sense to repeat parenting techniques that worked for one to attempt to recreate the results you got before, and sometimes it will work! 

I used cry-it-out with all 5 of my kids. 

None of them ever slept in my bed and they are all excellent about putting themselves to sleep as older children. 

That worked for our family. 

On the other hand, potty training was a complete disaster 4 out of 5 times. 

Only one child, ironically that middle daughter I talked about in Ep 8, followed the textbook “potty trained in 3 days” model to a T. 

The rest?

Not even close! 

Friend, there is no formula that produces the best kid and you are not a bad mom because you can’t seem to figure one out. 

Trial and error is not a bad thing provided you seek wisdom from God and, as I already said, rely on His Word as the foundation for everything you try. 

But then, you must remember that God is ultimately in control of it all. 

Col 1:16-17 "For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him, all things hold together."

God is sovereign over everything and while you certainly have the opportunity to make choices and the responsibility to make good ones, there is nothing that happens that He doesn’t permit. And He will use motherhood to bless you just as much as He uses it to sanctify you. When you accept this truth, you will find freedom from the Mom guilt that comes from not being able to control everything.

And before I completely leave this area of Mom guilt, I want to bring up a sticking point that we Christian moms have even when we say that we have given up all control to God.

Raising your kid in a Christian home where they go to church regularly and are taught biblical truths all their life does not GUARANTEE they will be saved. 

While you should definitely strive to teach them about who Jesus is and what He has done for them, their salvation is not something you can force. 

Each person must make their own decision regarding their eternal destination and this is a scary thought as a mom. 

Believe me, I know. 

Remember, you and I are in this together.

So how did things turn out after that conversation with my teens? 

The rest of that summer was a mixture of unbelief that there was anything that could be done to change their minds and hope that God would somehow bring them home. 

It has been just over a year since that phone call and God really has redeemed the situation, but definitely not in the way that I was expecting. 

It took nearly a year for me to come to terms with the Mom guilt I was experiencing. 

I had to give up the fear that my teens wouldn’t have good relationships with their siblings in the future.

I had to let go of wondering if they would love their dad and the life they had at his house more than me and the life they had here.

I had to understand that this was not a decision could control and staying angry or manipulating them to get what I wanted would have horrible consequences. 

In doing these things, with God’s help, I stopped the Mom guilt, forgave my kids and my ex for hurting me, and asked for forgiveness for not responding well this past year. 

Friend, Mom guilt is real but you don’t have to live with it. 

It isn’t about excusing poor choices, it’s about recognizing your fears, avoiding comparison, and fighting the urge to be in control. 

Most of all, it is about accepting God’s grace over your perfection.

I hope that you found this episode to be helpful. 

If so, would you do me the kindness of giving this podcast a 5-star rating on Apple Podcasts and, if you have a minute, write a short review? 

Your feedback helps other women find this podcast and decide if it would help them too. 

Of course, you can always tap that share button and send this episode to a friend that needs to hear it too.

Remember, spiritual growth is not a destination, it is a journey. 

And while we are on it, God will continue to remind us that His grace is more important than our perfection.



Categories: motherhood