Friday, January 24, 2014

Mom Guilt Unmasked

Mom Guilt.

Just seeing the phrase burdens you, doesn't it, Mom? For we all know what it is: that cloying heaviness blanketing your every deed and decision. The fear that no matter what you do it will never be enough or good enough. That everything in your children's experience that couldn't pass for a  deleted scene from a Disney movie will scar them for life and is all your fault.

No, we’re not crazy. Just moms doing our best, seldom believing it's enough.

Image Courtesy of Master images /

This week’s dose of Mom Guilt centered on my children’s education and development. The youngest two have challenges warranting evaluation and treatment, which, naturally, are my fault for doing too much of X when they were younger and not enough Y. That’s the way it is, and I am hard-pressed to deny it.

Thanks, Mom Guilt!

So burdened last night, I remembered a must-watch video my Sissie posted on my Facebook wall the other day. Produced by the fabulous ministry of Elevation Church, the first part of the video asked the women to describe themselves as mothers. Unsurprisingly they focused on their shortcomings and perceived flaws, sparing no consideration for their strengths.  I of course nodded along. “Yep, I have the same problem. Yep, I suck in that area too.”

Girl power, indeed.

For the second part of the video, the mothers returned to see their children's responses to the same query. 

And boy, were the answers different.

According to the children, Mommy was beautiful, awesome, unique, made the best meals, and gave great hugs. One girl said her mother was “her heart” because that’s how close Mom was to her. The mommies were visibly moved, and I too felt uplifted and strengthened, thinking of the sweet-voiced, heartfelt praise my children often heap upon my weary head.

But before those glad tidings could take root in my heart, a voice whispered, “I don’t know why you’re so excited. Your children wouldn’t even understand the question, let alone be able to answer it. And that’s your fault for not doing more with them when they were younger.”

Oh, how that rebuke stung, hitting my weak spot with breathtaking accuracy and acidity. I could hardly believe its speed, wondered how it could come at such a poignant, restorative moment.

Until I remembered: I have an enemy.

There are times when Mom Guilt assaults me after reading a Facebook post about the super-de-duper awesomely-fun-and-educational thing someone else is doing with her kids that makes me feel like a loser for handing out broken Crayolas and wrinkled paper. At other times, I compare—huge mistake—my idyllic childhood with the one I’m providing and sigh at the discrepancies.

But underneath and beside all that stands my enemy, ready and willing to undermine my every attempt to see myself as sufficient and successful in Christ. He is a thief who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. He is the father of lies in whom the truth cannot reside. He is the enemy of my soul, the one determined to bruise my heel at every turn.
Call him what you want, but he is real and gunning for you and me and mothers everywhere. And I would argue his most powerful tool is Mom Guilt: exaggerating areas needing improvement without mention of everything going well. His only agenda is to steal your peace and block you from enjoying your kids and their precious, fleeting youth.

But here’s the good news! He is a defeated foe whose only weapon is his ever-flapping jaws. For we have been given power to tread over every power of the enemy and nothing by any means shall harm us. And once we know that truth, then it will set us free from the debilitating influence of his lies.

So speak the truth about your daily triumphs over dirty dishes and piles of laundry. Celebrate the handmade cards, the sloppy kisses, the tickle fights before bed. Above all else, remind yourself whom the Son sets free shall be free indeed. And if you belong to Him, you are free from condemnation and guilt, free from the pressure of becoming this perfect mom who exists only fiction.

The Usual Suspects is famous for the line, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” Well, the impish blowhard does exist. But when he starts spewing his nonsense in your ear, you can defeat him by speaking the truth aloud.

Or as I did last night, telling him to shut up in Jesus’ name.

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