Motherhood comes with a lot of guilt. My kids don’t eat enough vegetables. I don’t do enough crafts with them. I don’t have them make their beds daily. Well, ever. I don’t greet them fully dressed and with act together in the mornings. I don’t give satisfactory answers to my six-yr-old’s why-does-God-allow-pain questions. I can’t take organic cupcakes secretly laced with nutritional hummus to every church and school occasion. Sometimes I’m too exhausted to make the
most of a golden parenting opportunity. I just watch as my heavy sigh blows it right on by. I could go on. And on. Do you have mom guilt? Beware: It is not of God, and it can take you down. I want to free you from some of it. I hope you are sitting down, sweet mama.
I once heard a wise woman in my Bible study say, “You are not your husband’s Holy Spirit.” I knew as I digested her words I had just heard a great truth. I’ll let you catch your breath. Now, get a cup of coffee, and let’s take it in and apply it to our children. What does it even mean?
You are so many things. You are a trainer, teacher, and guide. But you are not your child’s Holy Spirit. You’ll never do God’s inner work on their sweet little spirits. You will never do it. And you will be exasperated if you try. In fact, you may be interfering in holy work. Did you just gasp? Are you feeling liberated yet?
So, with great sobriety, let’s discover a boundary where our work ends…and God’s begins. Nope, I can’t tell you where it will be. I’m just telling you it exists. You’ll have to wrestle that out yourself. It’s hard work. Your boundary will fall differently than mine. And it may lie in a different place for each child. It means accepting you can’t control another’s heart. It means giving something up. It means a healthy emotional distance. It means you are allowed to say “I don’t know” to your children’s questions. It means you can pray and then get out of the way. It means recognizing which battles you don’t need to fight. It means you don’t have to apologize for your children. It means you don’t need to constantly explain yourself. It means you can truly rest. It means you don’t have to second-guess your decisions. Maybe it means although it is your job to put the vegetables on the plate, you accept that you can’t make them eat them. It means you don’t have to micro-manage every thought and behavior. It means you don’t have to be God. Whew. Because I tried it once. Or hundreds of times. I looked ridiculous. And it just humbled me down to an exhausted little pile of guilt.
My mothering is more effective and guilt-free when I’m not encroaching on God’s turf. His territory includes the mysterious wild hearts of my children. He has access to places in them I’ll never know. I am His servant as I watch Him do the sacred and mysterious work of maturing the hearts He created.
So, as we gratefully devour pizza for supper tonight, I’m counting the tomato sauce as a veggie…and moving on.