There is a video that keeps popping up on my Facebook page with the hashtag #endmomguilt. It started the week I was having some serious mom guilt happening and somehow Facebook knew this. So I watched the video and it was a few moms talking about how they wish they didn’t yell as much, played more with their kids, wished they could stay at home with them, could afford more things for them, etc. Some talked about their regret over formula feeding instead of breastfeeding or co-sleeping verses putting them in their crib alone. It is an endless list of what moms will feel guilty for.
My guilt actually stemmed from me realizing that once again I had let life get so busy that I didn’t have time to enjoy it. In my frustration from trying to coordinate four kids to do what I needed, I forgot that these little ones are just that… little. My oldest is 7 and at that age he cannot comprehend deadlines, rush hour traffic, or the large pile of dishes waiting to be cleaned. My six year old doesn’t notice the pet hair that is floating through the air or the bills that need to be paid so the lights stay on. My four year old doesn’t understand why he can’t just grab an apple instead of waiting for the chicken to cook. And the baby… well she is just a baby and is constantly demanding of everyone’s time. So goes the cycle of sleep deprived, hungry, over worked, under appreciated mom who turns to yelling to get stuff done.
But it doesn’t get stuff done, although it does release some frustration, it definitely doesn’t solve the problem. So when I realized that I was yelling more than I was loving, I stopped and I looked around. I breathed… they waited… and I remembered that they are little.
So we read a story, built a puzzle, jumped on the trampoline, played ball with the dog. They showed me how fast they could do a flip, how hard they could kick the ball, and their newest discovery in the yard. We sat and breathed in nature, talked about their day, and did a big group hug. And do you know what? Things fell into place. They helped vacuum up the dog hair, played with the baby, loaded the dishwasher without complaint, and were happy when supper finally arrived on the table.
Although I would like to say the cycle is broken and will not happen again, I know it’s not true. Parenting is a journey and habits are hard to break. Thankfully, though, I am learning how to take time for me to help curb those habits and they grow bigger and things get a bit easier.
But in the midst of the mom guilt, it is hard. You feel bad. You feel like a failure. You reach out for support but only to find 1,000 blogs about moms who have learned 15 ways not to yell and they haven’t raised their voice in 7 years of parenting…. Or another mom who has created a song for every single moment of the day so it’s like a musical in their home…. Or best of all you have the mom who tells you to make it “fun!” and you go about your day cutting the crusts off sandwiches so that your child’s plain peanut butter sandwich can now be shaped into a dinosaur and said dinosaur will now become a toy and since that toy is made out of PB&J your table will now be covered with the dinosaur “guts” because you have three little boys who all need to conquer the other dino-sandwiches and your sweet little baby thinks the texture is amazing so obviously she should rub her hands in it and then continues to rub those same sticky hands through her hair…. all in the thirty seconds it took you to put away the peanut butter, bread, jam and the knife.
But I digress….
In the middle of my mom guilt, I was listening to someone speak (and honestly I wouldn’t even be able to tell you who it was or what they were referring to) but the words, “I asked God to fill the gaps.” stood out to me. They hit me like a bombshell. Because that is what He is doing for me.
He is standing in the gap.
When I hear my voice rising and I’m done with asking nicely and listening to them whine in response, He softens the words that come from my lips to their ears.
When I feel like nobody appreciates anything because I am cleaning up the same mess for the fiftieth time that day, He puts a song in my heart.
When I have gotten to the end of my rope because the sheer responsibility of these four tiny little humans has caused anxiety that literally makes me throw up, He is there for me to call on.
In the middle of worship that seems too twangy and loud, that seems like the drums are vibrating against my skull and I am trying to figure out how in the world anyone can be worshiping like this, He speaks to my heart, “Hey, let go… I’ve got them.” And I do. And I feel the tears well up and the world shake a bit because even though I know I didn’t do well that day, week, or month… He did.
So I go back to them and I tell them I love them, and I tell them I’m sorry for being so irritable and easily upset. I tell them that I shouldn’t have been so frustrated and I love their little minds, and their hearts are so precious to me. And we begin again. This time even stronger than we were before.