To the Mom(s) Lying Awake at Night Under the Weight of Mom-Guilt
I feel you, mama. I feel you because I’M often that mom. I’ve laid awake at night under the weight of Mom Guilt. My eyes have felt the hot sting of Mom guilt tears, and my heart has felt the anguish of wanting so desperately to be the absolute best for my kids while reliving every moment I’ve screwed up in my head over and over again.
Why is it that Mom guilt comes on strongest at night? We need every minute of sleep we can get, and I’m sure I’m not the only mom to lie awake countless nights, berating myself over snapping too harshly at my kids, or not being good enough in this moment and that moment and praying desperately that I’m not messing up my kids.
There have been many nights that I try to distract myself with as much as I can to avoid going to bed for as long as I can so that by the time I finally go to bed I’m so tired that I can’t think about the Momming mistakes I’ve made. They’re often mistakes I relive from weeks, months, even years ago, not even just from that day.
Do you ever do that too, mama? Do you ever find yourself staying up late, even though you’re bone tired, watching a show or scrolling through social media or the news app, so you can avoid going to sleep? This can’t be how it was meant to be.
Mom guilt can be debilitating, and it is most certainly not of God. God convicts but He does not ever shame. Mom guilt is a stealer of joy and the ultimate shame-inducer. Mom guilt overshadows all of the beautiful moments you share with your children every day. Your kids will most remember those beautiful moments, not the moments you acted like a crazy lady.
It’s ‘funny,’ because I started writing this blog post in bed one night when I was starting to feel the crushing weight of Mom guilt on my heart. And I just stopped myself for a second and prayed. Prayed that God would help me through this, that he would cover my human mistakes as a parent with His grace.
Because yeah, to be honest, I’m not good enough to do this on my own. None of us are. We all screw up and we all make mistakes, but His grace is more than enough to cover our mistakes. He didn’t just die on the cross so we could spend eternity with Him forever, He also died on the cross so we could be covered in His grace every single day through every single moment and every single mistake we make. So He can take our mistakes and make something beautiful out of them.
Do we all have the potential of possibly screwing up our kids? Uhm, yes, to be honest. But because of His grace, we can sleep soundly at night in the hope and trust that He’s got our back. Where we fail, He intercedes. When we fall, He picks us up. When we let frustration get the best of us and yell at our kids, He reminds their hearts of the immense love we shower them with every day. Where we are weak, He is strong.
Take comfort in that, mama. When you’re laying in bed at night and your mind starts to go down that dark path, remind yourself that where you are weak He is strong.
But in reality, how do we actually do that? Sometimes it’s not enough to read some encouraging words on a blog, and all your mom guilt magically disappears. Sometimes it takes more than a quick prayer. Prayer is of course unbelievably important, but I think there are times when God is like, “okay, but like, you actually have to do something too.” So what can we do to actively fight the battle to not succumb to mom guilt?
Turn Off the Screen
First, get off the internet. Seriously. I realize that our blog is on the internet so we kind of want you to be on the internet reading this, but [when you’re done reading this] turn it off.
When you’re starting to feel the weight of mom guilt on your shoulders, the last thing you need to be doing is perusing Pinterest looking at all of the wonderful, homemade projects that other moms have created, or scrolling through Instagram looking at all of the smiling, carefree kids eating a from-scratch-grass-fed-organic-paleo-keto-gluten-free meal when your kids had frozen waffles for dinner. Again. Just don’t do it, don’t torture yourself.
The internet only shows one side of things; you didn’t get to see the Martha-Stewart-Mom hiding in the pantry from her screaming toddler while she snuck a bite of life-giving chocolate. You didn’t see the massive tantrum in the middle of the grocery store while Chef Mommy was getting the ingredients for her dinner (and you also didn’t see her kids refusing to eat said delicious and healthy meal).
The “perfect" moms on the internet also spend sleepless nights agonizing over mom guilt and look at your posts with longing. None of us feel like we’re good enough or qualified enough for this job. But God qualified you the moment you became a mom. When you’re feeling vulnerable and not good enough, turn off the screen for a while.
Write it Out
Something else that I’ve done several times that has helped is to write out what I’m feeling and struggling with. I’ll usually do it as an email to God, where I just lay out my struggles and my heart. Seeing it in black and white can often give you a different perspective on things, and it’s just nice to take the weight off a little. Unload the burden you’re carrying around with you to give your heart some peace.
Say it Out Loud
You can also actually speak it out loud to someone. Talk to your husband about areas that you feel you’re failing in, or call one of your close mom friends, even call your own mother. I am 100% convinced that every single mother has felt the pain of mom guilt, so don’t fear being judged. We have all been there, and we’ll all probably be there again. Don’t suffer in silence, let people come alongside you to speak truth and life into you.
In the Beginning…There Was Mom Guilt
Mom guilt has been around since the very beginning with Adam & Eve. One of Eve’s sons tragically died at the hand of her other son. Not her fault (minus the whole bringing-sin-into-the-world part), but I’m sure she felt like it was. I’m sure Mary, the mother of Jesus himself, struggled with mom guilt all the time. I mean come on, they didn’t realize for a solid day that he was missing on their way back from the Festival of the Passover (Luke 2:41-52), and I think it’s safe to say she felt like a pretty terrible mom during that whole situation.
Grace Upon Grace
Never forget that His grace is enough. Every one of us will make parenting mistakes, probably daily. But the grace of God will intercede on our behalf. Never give up, never stop fighting for His peace in your heart, mind, and home.
And please stop being so hard on yourself. You are doing amazing. You are doing the hardest job in the world, and you are kicking butt. Your kids love you unconditionally, just as you love them unconditionally. You have a bond with your babies that no one else in the world can ever have.
You are their mommy, and you are awesome.
You’ve got this.
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