What is it about mothers and guilt?
Why do we so often fall victim to the ease of comparison and competition?
I have been pondering these thoughts lately, especially after considering Kat’s post yesterday regarding birthday parties. I have HUGE motherly guilt associated with the celebration of my kiddos’ big days. But why? They feel loved; they feel appreciated; they feel special on their birthdays. So why the need to own up to some standard, some far-off achievement of the biggest bash on the planet with every themed ornamentation, showcase of creativity, and birthday menagerie?
Why as a young mother did I feel like my children had to keep pace with every milestone others’ children achieved? I knew full well that all children develop at their own pace and end up reaching the same developmental outcome by age five. Yet I continued to do it. Mommy guilt.
I admit to being rather competitive, but is this issue pervasive among less-competitive mothers? And does it wane with the addition of each child and the understanding by a mother that she really can’t do it all? Or just that she can’t meet the unreasonable expectations put in place by irrational thinking and planning?
I spoke with a new mother yesterday, who shared of her experiences in the first two months of motherhood. She commented on having to limit time on the phone with a really organized friend (also a new mother) due to the feelings of inadequacy that would result from their conversations. I hastened to discourage her immediate sense of guilt and comparison. “Don’t do it, ” I said, “Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of mother guilt. It’s always there. It’s always working against us.”
Mother guilt is sinful and we, mothers, need to pray for greater enlightenment; for strength to endure particular seasons of motherly guilt so that we can truly fulfill our vocations to the best of our ability. No more. No less.
I will pray for all mothers today. I will pray for you.