One lazy morning as we lay in bed talking, he suddenly rolled over and hugged me. He whispered in my ear, “I love you, Momma. I love that you are staying home with us now and doing preschool with me.”
My first instinct—How precious! My heart melted for the words my five-year old gifted me.
My next thought—Why, son? Really? I still get so angry with you at times. I still work like a dog as you play alone or with your brother. I still don’t do all of the fun things I dreamed we would do once I made the transition home.
I didn’t say these things aloud. I truly wanted to bask in his sweet words. But my own musings were plenty loud in my head. Try as I might, I couldn’t squash them.
The Power of Mom Guilt
See, what I struggle with is a common theme for us moms. It’s the constant feeling of guilt that you should be doing something…everything better than you are for your children. Mom guilt often robs us of our happiness at the most inopportune times.
Like what should have been one of my most precious memories of motherhood became a series of doubting questions in my head. Sadly, I let mom guilt quietly creep in. But then it stood up, raised its sword high, and let out a deafening battle cry before killing my wonderful moment.
Can you relate? Experienced this before?
This post is about us moms combating mom guilt…not letting it ruin the good thing we have going.
It’s also about thanking my mom for unapologetically working so hard. In doing this, she modeled what it takes to build a strong reputation for yourself in the workforce while being a strong mother at home.
She is a pillar of motherhood because she loves me and is my biggest cheerleader.
Plain and simple. Complex and beautiful.
My mom worked like a mad woman. As an elementary school teacher for over 30 years, she worked before everyone in the house woke up, after all went to bed, and on the weekends.
I am sure as a child I could list hundreds of things my mom missed out on because of her work or because of her lack of energy (after putting in 16-hour work days!). But as an adult, that list of disappointments does not exist. Maturity and motherhood have brought me understanding and awe for my mother...not bitterness and disappointment.
What I do remember most about my childhood—it was a happy one.
I can recall in clear detail moments when she said and did exactly what I needed, like only a mom can do.
After a particularly bad basketball game, in which my 7th grade team lost 40-0 (yes, 40 points to our 0 points!), my mom said, “But, you looked so good in your uniform.” The thing is, she was being sincere. That is who she is--a cheerleader and an eternal optimist. My dad, sister, and I all looked at each other, mouths hanging open, and then busted out laughing, me through my tears.
For every birthday, my mom would make a few handmade signs on white copy paper and with crayons. She would tape them around the dining room so my sister and I would be greeted with her birthday decorations as soon as we came down the stairs that morning.
I have many stories like these, as I am sure you do about your mom.
These memories (and hundreds like them!) did not involve pricey items or hours of “quality time.”
Instead, they revealed her love in small, simple, personal gestures. She showed my sister and me every day what a beautiful heart she had for us and for others. (She still does this.)
My mom was consistent...constant.
She constantly gave me encouraging words and pointed out my successes. I came to expect my mom’s optimistic attitude about tough situations (like losing in an embarrassing fashion during an awkward season of life!). I came to expect her praise when I did well. I came to expect no condemnation from her when I did my best but still failed.
She constantly did small things to demonstrate her love. I came to expect birthday signs on the morning of my special day. I came to expect small love notes tucked away in my clothes at 4-H camp. I came to expect a little treat from the vending machine after school each day.
And…she constantly worked hard. And…she didn’t apologize for it. I came to expect to work in her classroom each summer. I came to expect her grading papers each morning as I ate breakfast. I came to expect to spend hours teaching my own imaginary students in her classroom as she labored away until 5:00 most afternoons.
But guess what? Those things didn't kill me and didn't ruin my childhood.
Those times enriched it. I learned the value of work. I made some of my best memories in the classrooms and hallways of that elementary school. I forged friendships that still stand today.
How different my life would have been without a mom who worked so hard, right in front of my very own eyes.
To You I Say...
To those mothers reading (and to me writing), I want to encourage you to stop feeling so guilty…so much of the time.
I work outside the home and should be home more. I work inside the home and still ignore my children to finish projects.
My point, it does not matter where we work, who we work for, and what our work is we still feel guilty. We continue to beat ourselves up.
We must stop!
Where else will our children learn to work if we do not show them?
Remember, it is Godly to have a strong work ethic.
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27 NIV
Instead of being guilty, be constant. Constantly show your children your true self…your heart. Constantly give praise for success. Constantly do small, loving gestures. And, constantly show your children how to work.
Sure, you will miss out on opportunities with your children or make mistakes. You will make them mad, sad, and all of the emotions in between. That’s life. That’s being human. That’s living in a fallen creation.
Your goal as a mom is for your children’s lives to be happy, not perfect...for the sum of the whole to be greater than the individual parts.
In her book Business Boutique, Christy Wright writes, “…who you are will always be more than enough.”
And my friend April Coleman writes at her blog titled The Enough Mom.
These ladies are spot on! Who we are is more than enough for our children. God entrusted us with our beautiful creatures because He knew that with His help we would be great mothers.
My reminder from God came as a tiny whisper from my son.
What is your reminder that you are enough for your children?
If you think for a few moments you will recall a time you received a message…a sign, probably unexpectedly, that you were exactly what your children needed.
And, if you can’t honestly think of one, consider this your reminder. You stumbled onto this post for a reason. God is whispering in your ear, “You are more than enough and exactly what your children need.”
My Challenges to You
Here’s my challenge to you. Write down your I-am-enough moment, and place it in a visible spot. Use it to wipe away mom guilt when it creeps in to destroy your peace of mind and your joy.
My second challenge to you, write to your mom or to the lady who so lovingly took that role.
It is tough to sum up what your mom means to you. I know because I tried to do it here. I failed to truly capture what my mom’s steadfast love meant and still means to me today. After working hours on this post, I finally had an it-is-enough moment. So, I am taking my own advice, deeming it enough, and humbly publishing it. I hope someone, and especially my mom, grasps the depths of my appreciation to her.
Happy Mothers’ Day, my comrades! With God's help, we are more than enough.
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