Yes, I think it should be one word. And yes, I think it should be all CAPS.
Because sometimes it feels monolithic and threatens to take over.
Before I pushed a child into this world, I felt guilt every now and then, but NOW, NOW a slight action or inaction can bring about a physical pang of MOMMYGUILT.
I don’t take him to the playground enough—he may grow up never knowing how to explore!
I haven’t read a book with him for several days—maybe he’ll grow up to hate reading!
(And when he was first born) I feel so tense when he cries—do I really love him?
And it’s never just guilt. It’s mixed with fear. Fear that I’ve done something unpardonable, permanent, damaging.
MOMMYGUILT hit me strongly when I went back to work. I grew up with a stay-at-home mom in a stay-at-home-mom-is-best culture. Even though I had never considered staying at home, I still felt guilty that I wanted to work. I was plagued by the idea that great childcare didn’t matter—it wasn’t his MOM.
As I processed it, I came to the conclusion that God made me the way I am and called me to my work. I would be a better mom if I worked, and a worse mom if I didn’t. I’m called to be a working mom. And that call is no better or worse than anyone else’s. I will love it and live it because it’s mine.
Though I figured it out there, as life has gone on, the pang of MOMMYGUILT in other areas has become more familiar.
I seldom take him to play with other kids his age—am I raising a socially inept child?
He’s not that affectionate—did I withhold affection through sleep training?
Sometimes I just want him to leave me alone—where is my love?
So, how do I live a normal life with this new phenomenon of MOMMYGUILT? I figure here are my choices:
#1: Give in and do it all and become the perfect mom.
#2: Worry and feel guilty for the rest of my life.
#1 Makes me laugh out loud. I’m positive it could never happen. I just don’t have the energy to do it all and striving for perfection always seems to highlight all the imperfections even more.
#2 Doesn’t sound like much fun. And it doesn’t really sound Christian, either. I mean, Jesus tells us that our worry makes no change in our situations. He says to look at the lilies and birds and realize that God takes care of them, so God will also take care of us for we are more valuable than they (Matthew 6). Do I really believe that?
Perhaps there is a third option.
#3: Do the best I can (which clearly has many shortfalls) and TRUST God. Isn’t that what I have to do in all arenas of my life? I realize that my child is a gift from God, but I don’t think I’m called to control that gift. I’m called to figuratively offer him back to God, as Abraham almost physically did.
My mom told me that she realized early on that she couldn’t protect us from everything. So, she chose to do her best, but also relinquish any feeling of “ownership” and offer us to God, to ask God to protect us when she couldn’t. To trust that God would take care of her and her kids.
It’s kind of countercultural, isn’t it? In a culture that says, “do it all” we say “do our best.” In a culture that says “control,” we say “trust God.”
And maybe that’s just how we’re supposed to be.