mommy guilt

I got an e-mail yesterday from a gal who reads my blog. I’m thinking I should address this topic on said blog in some fashion. But I’m thinking it hits awfully close to home.

I’d like to get your take on a mother’s guilt over not being “Perfect Mommy.” My logical side tells me to give myself a break and realize that I do my best, but my illogical side is always hammering away at me for what I should be doing (i.e. sitting on the floor playing games, reading books, teaching language skills, coloring, etc) or should not be doing (i.e. checking my email, reading blogs, posting on my own blog, dragging my boys shopping, etc.). It’s a constant struggle for me. I do make time for myself, but it never seems to be enough. Sometimes, no, OFTENtimes, I just want to be left ALONE! This, of course, adds to the guilt!

There’s truly nothing else I want to be doing with my life right now than growing in my relationship with God, being a wife to my husband, staying home with my two boys and taking care of my home. I’m more content now than I’ve ever been before.

What do you think?

What do I think? Well, my first thought was that I’m the WRONG person to be answering this kind of question. Just gonna pass, thanks. Then, I had a second thought. God has a sneaky way of making me encouraging me to write about things I struggle with–marriage, sex, babies. And I’ve purposely avoided doing a book about mothering people who can walk and talk, because I spend a lot of time wishing I was doing a better job of it.

I enjoy getting e-mails with simple questions that I can immediately reply to with a short and snappy answer. This one’s going to require some thought. And I think it’ll be good for me–even if it hurts. So, I’m going to think about it, pray about it, think about it, read about it, pray about it, and hopefully write a brilliant post about it before 2010.

And I’d love it if some of you would chime in as well. Do you struggle with Mommy Guilt? What are some of your questions/concerns/issues? What would you like me to address? What soothing words would you like to hear, so you don’t feel like you’re the only “bad” mommy out there?

And before I hand it over to all of you, something that reeeeeally puts my mothering issues in perspective is hearing about dear people who have lost little ones. My heart just hurts right now. Please pray for one or more of these friends today!

–I don’t know Joel and Jess personally, but I’ve been reading about their beautiful 11-month-old, Cora, for a couple weeks now. She was diagnosed with cancer less than a month ago and went home to be with Jesus yesterday. I cried and cried when I heard. Please pray for her Mommy and Daddy. My heart is breaking in two for them. (Jess has been blogging since Cora was born–perfectly healthy–last March. If you have time, read through some of her posts.)

–My sweet friend Amy is 31 weeks pregnant with baby Abigail. Abigail has triploidy (3 sets of each chromosome) and will not live. She stopped growing at 16 weeks but is still alive and Amy can feel her moving. Most babies with this condition don’t live past 30 weeks. Please pray for Amy (and Billy) as Abigail’s heart rate slows, then stops, and the time comes for Amy to deliver her. I love Amy dearly and wish I could take away her pain.

–My high school friend Rebecca gave birth to a baby girl at 22 weeks at the beginning of January. She lived for just a few minutes. Please pray for Rebecca and Michael (and 2-year-old Cooper) as they grieve for their baby girl. I know they’re hurting so badly.

If you know of any others who have lost little ones recently, please let me know so I can pray for them.

Looking forward to your thoughts on Mommy Guilt! Blessings on your Monday!

24 thoughts on “mommy guilt

  1. Justamom

    Wow! I didn’t write that email to you, but I sure fit the bill! I totally can relate to that. So I really want to let that mom out there know that she’s not alone. I’m so right where I’ve wanted to be all my life – the stay-at-home mom! I’m a college grad, have a successful husband, whose got a great job, I’ve got 2 awesome kiddos and I get to stay at home and take care of them. How awesome! Yet . . . why don’t I spend MORE time with them?? Where does the day go? Sometimes I do let things go (chores, etc) in order to let us have our fun – so maybe that can be a good thing. I wonder if society contributes to my feelings of mommy guilt, though. If my kids are happy . . . whose to say that I’m NOT doing it right? I know I’m going to go through a whole wave of the guilt when my oldest goes to kindergarten next year. Oh yeah, it will be “all my fault” that he doesn’t know his alphabet and his numbers. I’m already trying to let it go.

  2. Joyce

    My mother (who is in her late seventies) and I were talking about this very thing a few months ago. She had shared with me that she sometimes wished she had been a better mother-I have three siblings and we’re all in our 40’s and 50’s. I asked her what she meant by that and she said she felt like she yelled alot and was always very impatient. Now, I have to tell you…this is not at all how I remember my mother growing up. I remember her as loving, listening, always there for me no matter what. In fact I think I was kind of shocked when she said this. When I told my siblings this they had the same reaction I did.

    Sometimes we mothers think too much. Our children can try our patience and we don’t respond always with a loving tone or kindness but I find it reassuring to think that the way I judged my own mother’s mothering and the way she judged it were not the same. I think the same is probably true in how my kids see me.

    I definitely had more mom guilt when my kids were small. As they have grown I also have grown and that helps alot. Pray often. That helps most.

    Blessings to all you mothers out there….Joyce

  3. Mommy Dot Com

    Mommy Guilt. Well, guilt will never get you anywhere. Even if you were to try to obey it, it wouldn’t lead to productivity. The righteous live by faith and faith has nothing to do with condemnation or continual self doubt. The fact is we need time to check email, connect with other mothers, go shopping and make new friends. We also don’t want to miss out on those special bonding moments with our chidlren. I believe it is simply trusting the Lord to give us eyes to see, a heart to feel and the grace to fulfill each good thing He has ordained for us. Remember, the Shepherd leads us beside the still waters. He restores our soul. The Lord knows that we can do nothing apart from Him. The good work He is calling us to isn’t robotic obedience. He wants our emotions and heart to be involved and that can’t happen if we are under condemnation or fear. We must believe that He will amply provide for us what we need to know and what we need to be in order to do that which He desires. We don’t have to play guessing games. He is able to clearly lead us, so my advice is that if a voice of guilt beckons you to a task, thought or emotion then tune it out and wait to hear from His sweet voice. That is the voice you are to follow. He has called us to freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Guard that freedom and enjoy whatever it is that is before you, trusting that He will clearly lead you to the next thing at the right time. And even when that thing requires tough or sacrificial obedience then we can know that He will help you to do it by encouraging you every step of the way. And don’t be afraid of having to wait on God to see more fruit developed in your life. God causes us to hunger to be better moms so He can transform us into better moms – remember those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. It might not be an immediate transformation b/c the light of the righteous is like the light of dawn…it shines brighter and brighter until the full day sun. He takes us from glory to glory, so our waiting and expectation is never in vain.

    Hope that helps and I am praying right now for those families.

    Thank you, Marla!


  4. Holly V.

    Funny how God can make the words on a page jump out. This was a devotional I received this evening, right after reading your blog. I have found that most often GUILT sets in when I’m tired, when I need rest.

    My heart aches for these families. Our dearest friends lost their 4 year old just 5 short years ago. Their hearts STILL ache the loss…and we were left not knowing how to grieve for, pray for and help during those hard first days. I am praying for those closest to Cora’s parents right now….that God will bless them with wisdom and grace as they walk this road together. Hope you enjoy the devotional below…..

    I have thought about this a lot throughout my mom journey and I often find myself in need of rest. I don’t do so well with knowing my own limitations or being able to say no to things or people who may need me.
    As women, moms and leaders we need to be able to set boundaries so rest can happen. I have found that rest for me doesn’t always mean physically resting but mentally and spiritually as well. Learning to set aside time to rest in the Bible or in a worship song can re-energize me so I can continue on. Is it hard for you to be still? Do you have trouble unbuckling from the ride that is your life and finding quiet moments? Let me encourage you to stop what you are doing right now, find a quiet place and just rest a minute.

  5. Tara Marlette

    I know what makes me sooo guilty is the mere fact that I work 40 hours a week on top of being mommy and wife. This is such a topic that lays so heavy on my heart at times. At the same time, I have to rememeber I am providing them shelter, food, etc…by working 40 hours a week. It’s hard to classify that as love, but all in all it is somehow or another. When I get home, I feel like I have to constantly be in their face or I am not spending the “quality” time I should be with them. Boys being boys…they tell me quite often “mom, you can go, we want to play by ourselves.” God love least they are honest…but in some odd way…. my heart is content with them saying that b/c I know I have touched them someway:)

  6. Jamie Nygaard

    I’m with Krisco on her comment. There are definetly some women that LOVE everything about being a mother. Like for example my sister, and my mother-in-law. I too feel that this is a role that I am filling and raising my boys for God’s Kingdom. I notice at times that my boys are more independent because I don’t spend every waking minute at their side…but at times I feel as though I should be more involved than I am.

    I keep trying to look LONG term. These are not MY children, I am raising them for God. I need them to learn how to do things on their own, but as well…I do need to be there for them.

    Guilt is something I struggle with a lot though….especially when I get a phone call from my sister telling me how she spent 1 hour doing Legos with her son and then 1 hour playing dolls with her daughter and then took them both to the park and fed the ducks together. I always leave conversations like that feeling like I’m a crappy mother and should be doing more with my kids. I hate that.

  7. jessicakes

    oh, boy, DO I have thoughts on this topic. I think every day, I have to talk myself down from feeling badly that i’m not sitting on the floor playing trucks or dancing around the house in ballet slippers with “Emily” (as she insists she’s named) acting like Bella (don’t ask ;-))

    But, the thing is, most of the time, I have that guilt when I’m doing something that is absolutely necessary. Like peeing or washing clothes or something. So, I have learned to take deep breaths and I remind myself of this:
    God gave me these children to love, nurture, care for, train. He made me a mother. He did NOT make me a child entertainer. My purpose is to raise well rounded kids. Kids who can play together with me, kids who can play with their siblings, kids who can play alone, kids who can brush their teeth & dress themselves & pick up their toys. My purpose is not to entertain them for countless hours. Life isn’t all fun & games. So, when I’m throwing in a load of laundry–sometimes they are glued to the t.v. (these are the moments when most of the guilt comes)—but sometimes they’re helping me shove the clothes in the dryer. They have to see all aspects of our lives…they have to know that there is a time for fun & games, that there’s a time for work, that there’s a time for rest. And that’s where balance happens.

    Otherwise, they just end up like those wacko kids on American Idol who think they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. πŸ˜‰

    …those are my thoughts…

    interestingly enough, i read this blog this morning AFTER i had (irrationally) decided that i’m just going to pull an all nighter tonight so i can find time to make a meal plan and fold the laundry…while the big kids are asleep…
    you know i’ll never make it all night-but that was the only conclusion i could come to to figure out how to fit it all into one day…

    …swirly, swirly, swirly thoughts!

  8. Sarah

    Oh what timing. You asked if we knew anyone whose lost a little one lately. Well I literally just got a message that my cousin, Danielle, lost her baby yesterday. Her and her husband had quite a difficult time getting pregnant and were so excited to finally be expecting their first child. She made it about 12 weeks and lost the baby yesterday. Prayers would be much appreciated for Danielle and her husband Hugh. Thanks Marla.

  9. Denise

    Hi, my name is Denise and I have serious mommy guilt! There, I said it…the first step is admitting it. I actually wrote a post about this on my blog last week…check it out! I think I need to learn how to cut myself a break! I don’t do it! But yah, my post kind of explains things better than I can right now! check it out! Love ya!

  10. Linds

    As a Mum whose children are grown now and responsible nice adults (even though I was their Mum!) I think I will do a post on this too. The guilt is a common theme every mother experiences. I will let you know when my post is up. In a day or so!

  11. Jennifer

    I have no personal wisdom on Mommy Guilt. It’s interesting that you mention it, though, as I’m just starting to read a book about this! It’s called “Guilt-Free Motherhood: Parenting with Godly Wisdom,” and it’s by a woman named Julianna Slattery. I read her book on marriage last year (“Finding the Hero in Your Husband”), and it was so great that I went ahead and bought the motherhood one… and am just now getting around to reading it. Anyway, the guilt issue is what the book is supposed to address, so I’m curious to see if she’s figured out an answer for the rest of us. πŸ™‚

  12. Missy

    Sure, I struggle with mommy guilt. It’s hard to balance life as a mom. As a single person, I only worried about me. I could stay up to all hours to squeeze in all the things I needed to. Even “ministry” was something I could just schedule b/c there was no one else’s schedule to consider but mine.
    As a mom, everyone else’s schedule becomes mine. So, the thing I struggle with is scheduling time for me…not even the extras, but the day-to-day showers, quiet times, time with friends, time with hubby, time to just think!
    If I take time for those things while my kids are awake I will sometimes feel guilty. I think the one major thing I’m learning is that at least at this point in my life – there is no balance. There isn’t time for everything. I can’t choose all my values and fit them into one day – I have to pick and choose.
    Sooo, my questions would be: How do you choose which is most important on a day to day basis? How do we measure our success as moms…how do we measure whether our guilt is pointing to something we need to change, or whether it’s just an emotional response to our actions not meeting our minds expectations?

  13. Krisco

    I read through Cora’s blog last night. So incredibly heartbreaking and humblinhg.
    I was not made to be a mother. I am a mother. I would give my right leg (and left) to one of my kids if they needed it. I would do anything for them. I love them so much that it physcially hurts my heart sometimes. But, to be a mother is not why I was created. Right now, I’m absolutely filling the role and believe that right now it is my purpose. And God has blessed me greatly.
    However, there are those moms that LOVE being a mom. They (seem to) believe it is the best thing since sliced bread. They (seem to) believe it is absolutely why God created them.
    I have guilt that I just don’t feel this way. And maybe these people don’t exist but I feel like they do. I love my kids – I’d give my life to save theirs. Am I in love with being a mother? No.
    …..And the guilt sets in

  14. Joanne (The Simple Wife)

    Hey Marla,

    Praying for your friend Amy. We have friends who are pregnant and dealing with the same thing. Seems like maybe they’d want to know about each other since they’re dealing with the same thing and know what the other is going through.


  15. Jennifer Griffin

    I am so sad that baby Cora died…I know she is with Jesus.

    Mommy guilt!!! I just talked to Shan about this last night! I guess I didn’t call it Mommy Guilt but, that is what it was! I struggle to “do” all that I feel needs done each day. Homeschooling, cleaning, cooking, laundry(we have a love/hate relationship), not yelling(ouch), being constant in discipline….and on and on. I went to bed bummed…full of mommy guilt. I’m glad it has a name…

    For me…I handle my day better when it starts out right…not by a screaming toddler but, in quiet time with God. I know that’s only the tippy top of the iceburg.

    I can’t wait to read others comments on how they “mommy” without dwelling on the bumps in the road.

  16. Megan@SortaCrunchy

    My mother-in-law told me long ago she is pretty sure “guilt” is Motherhood’s middle name. Who does NOT struggle with it? I’d love to know!

    My two insights:
    1) Practically speaking, I *try* to organize my day so that I have intentional, focused play time with the girls. Sometimes it’s individually, most of the time playing with them together. I think it is important to interact with, read to, and just generally get down on the floor and play around with your kids. BUT, too, I think it is healthy for them to have independent play time. As Dacey (4) gets older, she is better and better at just finding little ways to play – making up stories, dancing, singing, all on her own. My toddler requires more Mommy involvement.

    I find that when I know I’ve been intentional to have some focused time with them, I don’t struggle with guilt when I am doing the things I have to do/want to do during the day.

    2) Spiritually speaking – this reminds of something our pastor emphasized in yesterday’s sermon. In telling His followers to “seek first the Kingdom of God” and that when we do that “all these things will be added to you,” He is essentially telling us that when we are making God and His Kingdom our NUMBER ONE priority, the thing above any other activity or relationship in our lives, then God will put all these other things into proper balance in our lives. I thought that was pretty cool insight.

    ~~ (borrowing that from you) Such heartbreaking news on the loss of these little ones. I can relate completely to your reaction. When I read about little Tuesday Whitt going Home, I laid down on my bed and bawled my eyes out. Oh, I hate the pain this world brings. Even so, come Lord Jesus. I’ll be praying for these families.

  17. Rachel

    I constantly suffer with this problem. I try to balance time with my daughter, time with my husband, time doing housework, and me-time, but sometimes (a lot of times) I fail. Something gives.

    It breaks my heart to hear about those families that have lost/are losing children. I know the pain of anticipated grief. It is so hard to give your child to God, but He knows better than you. Sometimes He performs miracles and sometimes not. In the end, I think we will know why. I pray that these situations ultimately bring these couples closer to each other and to God.

  18. Gail

    I just referred to this on my blog today. Good food for thought.

    And for the record, I am quite prone to guilt in the mommy-department, but I am working on letting grace reign. It’s a process.

  19. Sherry jones

    Marla, thank you for sharing. I will be praying for these families. I had a cousin lose her only baby many years ago – it was so hard – all of her sisters were blessed with several children and she couldn’t have any more. We don’t understand on this side of heaven why things happen, but one day we will. As far as guilt- WOW – I have been dealing with that forever; I use to feel guilty as a child (dysfuntional family) because I got to go to school and my Mom had to stay home and be sad. And as a wife and mom – always feeling guilty that you never do enough for the husband and too much for the children or vice versa. But…………you can reach a happy balance and have peace of mind when you work at getting priorities right, put it in God’s hands and never look back. Try not to second guess what you are doing – make a decision and go with it. Blessings to all, sherry

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