What to Do about Mother Guilt
- Sarah Coleman Author
- 2014 19 Sep
I don't know about you, but I hate to fail. I do, just hate it. I am the kind of person who sets very high standards for herself, and am frustrated when I don't meet them.
I have always been this way. But exasperation when I don't measure up has escalated since becoming a mother. I know motherhood is meant to be blissful and happy, but when I let my children down, or rather, when I feel as though I have let my children down, the feelings of guilt and disappointment are immense.
I think they call it mother guilt, or at least some form of it. Mother guilt has probably been around since time began. I mean, I know my mother had it. And I am sure her mother felt mother guilt. Isn't it just part of being a mother? Comes with the territory?
From what I can tell though, mother guilt is largely self-inflicted. I first experienced mother guilt when my oldest child was born via emergency caesarean section. Did my baby care how he had been born? No. Does he care today? No. But I did. I felt inadequate because I had not given birth to him naturally.
Mother guilt is hideous. Hideous. The name almost sounds glamorous. But it is hideous. And straight from the pit of hell. Of course the angel of light would take something insidious and make it look attractive, like an honour badge. That one of our roles as mothers is to beat ourselves up with guilt and condemnation.
Recently, I felt God say he wanted me to focus on the finished work of the Cross. Over a few weeks I began meditating on Scripture that emphasised all Christ accomplished for me. I read verses such as Hebrews 10:14 which tells me that through Christ's sacrifice, I am forever made perfect. And Romans 8:1 reminding me that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ. I reflected on 2 Corinthians 5:21 and the beautiful exchange of my sin for his righteousness. As well as Romans 5:17 proclaiming that I have been made righteous through the Cross, and triumph over sin and death.
I had knowledge. Then revelation came.
One Sunday morning during worship, it was as though I was transported back in time. I stood at the foot of the Cross. In that moment God reminded me that many men deserted Christ in his final hours. That it was predominantly women who observed the horror of Jesus' crucifixion. Then he said, "I wanted women at the Cross. I wanted them to see the beating I endured. Then they would recognise they don't need to beat themselves up, or feel guilty any more. It is finished."
And so I stood there with the women - Mary Magdalene, Salome, Jesus's mother - gazing at Christ's contorted, deformed, tortured body. I heard him cry, "It is finished."
And I knew. It was finished for me. He was beaten. I don't need to beat myself. I don't need to succumb to mother guilt or disappointment.
It really is finished.
Unfortunately I still make mistakes. At times I continue to feel as though I have left my children down. But I choose to let go of those feelings, and instead concentrate my thoughts on Christ.
You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives (Galations 3:1, The Message).
When the crucified Christ is not at the forefront of my mind, life can get a little crazy. Guilt and self-blame get a strangle hold. But as I refocus on the Cross, victory comes. Life is resurrected.
Mothers are not supposed to live with guilt. It is not part of being a mother. Mothering from freedom will in turn set my family free. I choose to parent from grace and liberty, not the law and shame.
Mother guilt is not an honour badge, the Cross is. The Cross of Christ is the insignia I wear with pride. Guilt and disappointment has been crucified with him. Once and for all.
I'm Sarah Coleman, an Aussie passionate about Jesus & family. Through blogs and books I minister life and encouragement. Download my FREE eBook, Be Amazing: You Know You Want To. Find more of my thoughts at sarahcoleman.com.au.
Publication date: September 19, 2014