Mommy Guilt

So I told you I was going to do more blogging for me. Less blogging for the books.

This is me. Blogging for me. :)

Recently I kind of started to hate blogging. Which is SO not me. I blogged long before I published a book. It was like my thing. Ok, mostly it was like my Dear Diary entry to the world. But it was also therapy, and memories and putting coherent thoughts together on a page. And instead of fans of my books, my readers were my friends and family. And I'm a little nostalgic for those days.

The thing is, when I write about my life I feel guilty that I'm not promoting my books. And when I promote my books I feel guilty for not doing what I want to do.

Isn't that the way of life though??? Guilt around every corner. Especially if you're a woman. Or maybe a certain type of woman. And it gets even worse if you're a mom.

Life is just this constant vat of simmering guilt that marinates and coagulates until I am positive I can do nothing right and will never be good enough.

And maybe this is just me. Maybe I'm the only one struggling with this ugly, oppressive demon. But probably because this is my blog, I'm going to talk about it anyway. :)

Since the school year began, I have been on a mission. A mission to forgive myself and deal with all this unnecessary guilt. And honestly, it's been going well for me.

I mean, I have my moments. BELIEVE ME, I have my moments. And by my declaration that I've been doing well, you probably assume those moments I'm swallowed up whole by guilt and regret are few and far between. But oh no, life is just not that simple. What I mean, is that in those moments- the ones where my stomach grows this ginormous pit and my chest aches and my head spins and all of my insecurities and doubt swirl around me like a Twister(yes, the movie with Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt. It's one of our faves.)... like a Twister-worthy Tornado, what I really, truly mean by doing well, is that I forgive myself in those moments.

But they still happen.

All the time.

And I can't stop them. I don't know how. I'm neither arrogant enough nor oblivious enough to not see how tasking this life we lead is. And it's not just my career, and it's not just my house and it's not just the four little lives I've been put in charge of or the husband I have the opportunity to love. It's ALL of it together. We all have lists of responsibilities and loved ones that bring us the greatest joy and stir the deepest guilt.


I was thinking about this on the way to school yesterday. Because we were late. Like REALLY late. And I did the best I could to get the kids there on time. Just like I do every morning. Sometimes it works out, like today. (We were even early!!!!) And sometimes it doesn't. It's a lot of work getting four kids dressed, fed and out the door in the morning! Shoot, it's a lot of work getting ONE kid out the door! And I'm not usually known for my punctuality.

Anyway, so we were late- even for our standards. But the kids were safe and fed and for the most part happy. And so I said to myself, I'm not going to feel guilty about this. A. It's Monday. B. There was unexpected road construction and no way for me to plan ahead for that. And C. I have a first grader and a pre-schooler. One late morning is not going to affect their permanent records.

And I forgave myself.

I felt good about it, too. Really good. I said to myself, we'll do better tomorrow. And we did.

But... while I was driving, giving myself grace and actually feeling good about the fact that they were dressed, relatively clean and put together, and healthy, I started to have guilt ABOUT THAT!!!

This is how crazy I am!

I started to feel guilty because I forgave myself for being late. Even though our tardiness was no longer an issue, the fact that I could be so cavalier about it turned into one. And I started to have all these doubts and insecurities about my attitude.

It's a never ending cycle! How do I make it stop????

Well, I did. In that very moment. And what got to me was the other parents. All these thoughts about the other parents who could get their kids to school on time, and how if they didn't, THEY would feel the appropriate amount of guilt. THEY would feel adequately shamed. THEY would be motivated to do better.

And while I AM motivated to do better. I still realize I will fail from time to time. Or, honestly, more times than not.

But I can't let that rule my life anymore. It will eat me up until there is nothing left of me but guilt, shame and needless apology.

It carries over into every aspect of my life. I feel guilty for being at the computer instead of with my kids. And then I feel guilty for spending time with my kids and not being at the computer. Or I feel terrible when the laundry isn't done, folded and put away and my husband has to dig through the dryer to find clean underwear.... Or because I've stopped at Target on the way home because he's completely out of clean underwear and it's easier for me to buy a new pack than start a load of laundry. :) I feel guilty when my meals aren't perfectly homemade and healthy. Or when I'm not put together by noon, or five o'clock, or three days later when I'm still in the same yoga pants and my hair is a frizz ball of crazy. Deadlines become starting points for ulcers, new releases threaten nervous breakdowns and the future of this so called career could easily bring on a stroke.

But it's too much.

It's too much to deal with and think about and obsess over. And it's much, much, much too much to feel guilty over.

I am going to mess up. Daily. And I'm going to fall short and be late and sometimes make supper out of slices of cheese and frozen chicken nuggets.

But I've also decided that I'm going to be Ok with that.

It's by the grace of God that I'm even here to begin with and by His grace alone that I can continue to mess up this chaotic life.

There is a lot that's completely out of my control, but even the things in my control tend to get dropped and stomped on while I struggle to juggle it all.

And I know I'm not the only one. My life isn't busier than anyone elses. We all struggle with this. We all cope and deal, bury the guilt down, drown in it, let it eat us alive.

But I've decided to forgive myself instead. It seems so much easier than letting every single thing I do wrong bother me.

And then after that, I'm going to forgive myself for forgiving myself, too. Part of the human condition is failing. But in that failure is where we learn the most- where we grow the most. And I can't learn lessons if I'm blinded by remorse.

I also realize there is a careful balance between using forgiveness as an excuse not to feel guilty and using it as a tool to mature with. Forgiveness doesn't mean I get to mess up as often as I want to and never deal with consequences. It means that I can do better next time without the weight of my last mistake holding me back.

You know what? It doesn't even have to be a mistake! It could be as simple as the pressures of life creeping into our hard-earned happiness and pressing down on us until we feel every what-if and missed opportunity. Guilt comes in every form, from every direction.

But hope lies in the forgiveness.

I might not be the best mom today, but I can be tomorrow. I might not be the best wife today, but I can be tomorrow. Or five years from now. Or ten. I'd rather live in that promise than wallow in the selfishness of guilt. Because hope for what I can be centers around my kids, or husband or readers. But guilt, remorse and depression has me as the focus and what I've done wrong.

Forgive yourself. Forgive all the guilt and pressures of your life and know that everything is going to be alright. It has to be.

It WILL be.

Because, we're moving on.


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