I often struggle with subconscious and conscious mama guilt and sometimes over-compensate for it. As in all things, too much or too little can create a monstrosity of a problem for parents and children but the key is knowing why we have the guilt and how it fuels our choices and actions as a parent.
More often than I should, I tell my eldest Yes to things I should take time to consider or just outright say No to. I offer rewards for things that don’t merit a reward or for things Jahmai should be doing anyway because it’s what he’s been taught to do or it’s what we expect him to do and it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Now, that’s not to say children don’t deserve our praise as a means of encouragement for them to continue doing the right things but I’m saying that I have said yes to things I originally said No to simply because I want my child to be happy, content, and satisfied.
So where does all of this stem from? I feel guilty for not being able to provide my children with a family of our own. Yes, I know I am theirs and they are mine, thus, we are a family. But what I mean is there is no male influence -a husband and father – living in our home.
Here’s the deal, my eldest is 15. He will soon be out of the house and away in college (crossing my fingers and toes he won’t go too far). If I am blessed with a husband before and even after Jahmai is gone, how fair is that to him that Imri will grow up with a male influence at home and essentially a “complete” family when that wasn’t Jahmai’s before he flew the nest?
Yes, his father was and is in his life but his presence was at times fleeting and now he lives out of state.
Even when Jahmai is hanging out at different friend’s homes where both their mother and father are present I get that nagging feeling again…”I wish Jahmai could experience what his friends are having two parents at home. A dad who can go out in the back yard and throw the ball around or burst into his room to rip him a good one when he mouths off to me, or, two parents to show up for a parent-teacher conference or other school events.
Let me interrupt myself to say how incredibly blessed we are to have my mother, father, and brother in our lives who have lovingly been our number one supporters in every way possible. Yep, they show up to the aforementioned occasions and also serve as a means of accountability, a source of love and much-needed disciplinarians when I’m at my wit’s end or need some back-up.
These are the thoughts I berate myself with while simultaneously remembering that my children are blessed to live in a home full of love, nurturing, and stability. My tribe is the biggest support group we have and offer the same amount of love and support for my children as I do. So, how then, can that nagging feeling of guilt be conquered?
Well, I don’t know all the answers but I think I have a pretty good vantage point for a starting place.
Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “do not worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
It’s so easy to get lost in our own thoughts, in our own feelings, and emotions. But we have to remember Jesus walks with us each and every day and is ready to carry our burdens for us, directing us down the right path, and offering us love wisdom along the way so that we may, in turn, bestow the same upon our children.
Another great source of direction can come from a therapist. He or she has the knowledge and tools to help one cultivate and maintain proper thought patterns, emotional responses, and anything else in need of attention and intervention.
15 years after the birth of my first born, I still need direction and encouragement to continue raising him to be the young man God created him to be. I think we all, as mothers, will always need a reliable source of navigation as we raise our children.
Mommin’ ain’t easy but one thing is for sure, we can rest easier and hopefully sleep a little better at night knowing that when it’s all said and done, our children belong to the Lord. As long as we do all we can with what we know to steer our children in the right direction, God will take care of the rest.
What about you? Are you struggling with guilt?