To the Mom Who’s Plagued With Guilt

In Advice and Encouragement by Debra Fileta

If you’re a regular reader, you know that I don’t typically write to moms. But, the truth is, there’s no getting around it- I’m a mom!  And lately, I’ve been asking God to use this blog He’s given me to speak His words. This week, he pressed this message on my heart in a way I couldn’t ignore, and even though I hesitated to use this forum to post it, I felt strongly like it’s what I needed to do. To all the mommies out there, here’s a message from one mom to another. — Love, Deb

In the 4 years since becoming a mom, I’ve spent more time feeling guilty than I have in my entire adult life.

It’s a feeling that quietly crept in without my realizing it, from the very first day at the hospital. It didn’t ask my permission, nor did it announce it’s arrival. I remember the very first time I felt it.

My daughter was born into the world after a difficult 17 hour labor, and had suffered some trauma in the birth canal at the extended labor. She was rushed to the NICU for the first 3 days of her precious little life.

The first feelings I remember experiencing upon seeing her sweet face were Joy. Awe. Exhilaration. Pure love.

And then shortly after….guilt.

I felt guilty that she was swept away into the the hands of the hospital workers, instead of snuggling soundly on her mommy’s chest.

I felt guilty that I had to spend the first few nights away from her, to ensure that she got the care she needed in the NICU.

I felt guilty that I couldn’t hold her, and snuggle her, and touch her the way I wanted to, because she had to be monitored with tubes and sensors and masks.

I felt guilty that I couldn’t nurse her the way I had hoped, and instead had to settle for pumping and syringes, and later, formula and bottles.

Almost four years later, and my daughter is a perfectly happy, healthy, bright, beautiful, smart, and delightful little girl. She is perfect in every way.

But just last week, I realized something. Even with the blessing of two healthy children, I am a mom that is often plagued with guilt. There is always something. 

I feel guilty that I’m not a morning person, because I want to be energetic and fun and engaging for my kids, and instead I’m often tired, and slow, and sluggish.

I feel guilty when my house is a mess, because I want to create an orderly home for my kids.

I feel guilty when my house is clean, wondering if maybe I’ve spent too much time cleaning and not enough time playing and interacting.

I feel guilty when I let my kids watch cartoons, wondering if we should be reading more books, doing more preschool, listening to more music, and doing more art.

I feel guilty when we have a busy week, asking myself if I’m pushing my kids too hard and not taking enough time to give them the break they need.

I feel guilty when we have a quiet week at home, thinking maybe they didn’t get enough mind stimulation and socializing.

I feel guilty about things I didn’t even know I could feel guilty about.

Last week we were spending an afternoon at home when all of a sudden my daughter and son came running over to me at the same time. Out of nowhere, they buried their faces in my chest and hugged me for a few minutes, which in toddler time, is equivalent to a few hours of affection. It was a spontaneous display of affection for their mommy. I rubbed their backs and told them I loved them, and in that moment I realized something: they already knew.

I asked my oldest daughter what are the things mommy does that she loves the most. Her answers made me laugh, but their simplicity revealed something: making me pancakes, letting me watch Curious George, and giving me hugs and kisses.

Every little thing is significant to them. All the things I’ve been harboring guilt about go unnoticed in the eyes of a child who is simply looking for love.

Love in her morning breakfast.
Love in her cartoon time.
Love in her mommy’s hugs and kisses.

Our children are most content in our love.

Not in the cleanliness of our home (or lack thereof)
Not in the creativity of our crafts.
Not in the cheeriness of our morning personality.
Not in the order of our schedule.

I’m realizing more than ever that I’ve carried guilt for far too long, and in many ways, it has paralyzed me. Because for so long, I’ve carried guilt that doesn’t belong to me. It’s a guilt that they have never placed on my shoulders, and it’s a guilt that God has never asked me to carry, because it’s a guilt that I have chosen to live in myself.

There are many areas in my life that I know I want to work on as a mom, but I’m realizing that guilt doesn’t lead to change- it leads to chains.

It leads to a prison of anxiety, fear, and insecurity that leaves me worse off than it found me.

From what I know of my sweet and merciful God, He doesn’t guilt us into changing. He doesn’t fill our minds with words that claim we’re not good enough, that we haven’t done enough, and that we don’t measure up. No. Never. Rather, He shows us what we need to change with a heart of love: a hearth that builds us up, instead of tears us down. He motivates us with joy, to become the best we can be. But most of all, He motivates us with His love. Because at the end of the day, whether we’re an infant, a toddler, a teenager or a mommy: LOVE is the only thing we really remember and respond to, anyway.

To all the moms out there who are plagued with guilt, throw off those chains and free yourself to receiving, experiencing, and expressing God’s love for you exactly where you’re at today. You are enough, and He has given you everything you need to be the mom He has called you to be. Live in that love.

Because we are ALL most content, when we are living in Love.

2 Timothy 1:7For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love…”

Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter