You Are the Guilty Mom

I write this for the guilty mom. You know who you are. Guilt surrounds you like a spider spinning thread around its prey, or like a jumble of toys growing rapidly on your living room floor, threatening suffocation and feelings of uselessness. You bear a sense of guilt for many things. Indeed, the guilty verdict is always before you, and it shows on your face. Of this guilt St. Anselm says: "To lie hidden, will be impossible; to appear will be intolerable." You cannot hide it, nor hide from it. You are the guilty mom.

And just what are you guilty of? You are guilty of wasting time. What on earth did you accomplish this week, much less today? You are guilty of failing another supper, complete with overcooked veggies and undercooked meat for one child, and undercooked veggies and overcooked meat for another. Perhaps you should not have left the cooking to the last minute? You are guilty of spending too much time on Facebook, and the pain of regret devours your conscience, especially when your perfect friend is posting continuously on her perfect life and perfect family. You are guilty of ignoring your children. Deep down you believe this was better than simply yelling at them all day. You are guilty of jealousy towards your husband and his career. His recognition of achievement, and his ability to have a break from raising children throughout the day, is so far removed from what you do. You are guilty of going out in public with unsightly clothes, ignoring the dirty bathroom, leaving a mess of greasy dishes for your husband to do when he comes home (that selfish blockhead), spending too much money on children's clothes, not exercising regularly, forgetting to pay the water bill, finishing the chocolate, and finally of beginning the next day without any hope of change.

The guilt of the mom is further weighed by the guilt of living the status quo. Idleness is the devil's workshop, and sadness and regret its instruments. Fear not. You do not have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. Can it not be that change can begin in small ways?

What if children were prayer-trained? When you first wake up they could have a bisquit and a book, and be taught to be quiet while you pray. Perhaps five minutes to start, and onward and upward. Would this not help? What if a quick load of laundry, with the selfish need of getting yourself a clean shirt, could be actualized from time to time, rather than doing all seven overwhelming loads at once? What if meals were planned out, or at least you knew that on Tuesday was pasta night, Wednesday brunch-for-supper, Thursday stir fries, and so on? Would the consistency be of benefit? What about making to-do lists? Checking off accomplishments? Limiting Facebook to certain times? Knowing that a break from your children is ok? That yelling at them should scream to you: "Go have a nap woman!" What about asking your husband for some alone time instead of resenting his career? Seriously, just ask (politely!). You see, the guilt requires but a small step, and then another, and before long you no longer need to feel inferior to Mrs. Facebook-Perfect and her cavity-free perfect children.

Guilt must not freeze your efforts. Start small, but go the distance: “You cannot be half a saint; you must be a whole saint or no saint at all,” (St. Therese of Lisieux). Guilt might never leave, but it must not leave you paralyzed.

Finally, know that you are guilty of other actions which must not be forgotten. You are guilty of nurturing a home and not a house. Did not Christ Himself will to dwell in and sanctify a home? You are guilty of raising children to be responsible, happy, and faith-filled. When your daughter walks around with a baby doll, she is telling you that what you do is dignified, worthy of imitation, and all around amazing. You are guilty of pushing yourself beyond what you thought capable, with little to no recognition. That extreme fatigue is anything but the devil's workshop of idleness. You are guilty of pride; pride for the gift of life God has bestowed on your family.  You are guilty of love. It is a love that sacrifices, hurts, cries, and keeps moving forward. It is a love that changes diapers in the night, holds a sick child with no thought towards contracting the illness, worries for their future, longs for the husband to be near, dries tears, laughs and sings, and ultimately brings joy and peace to the home; perfect supper or no perfect supper. Yes you are guilty of love, and in the end you will only be judged by how much you have loved.

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  1. Thank you so much for so eloquently describing what so many moms (myself included!) feel. I have 10 children and, while the meals are planned and I haven't forgotten to pay the water bill in quite awhile, I still struggle with mom guilt. There is always room for improvement in so many areas. But the love I have for my family runs strong and deep. Thank you for reminding me of what's most important. God Bless you and your family! I discovered your blog this morning after reading your piece on Pope Francis on 1P5.

  2. Great to hear from you Jenny! I'm sure there are no shortage of opportunities to become saints when raising ten children. God bless you and your family as well.

  3. Thank you so much for this post. It has actually made me cry tears of relief. My husband and I are "in the weeds" of having only small ones, and I've really been struggling with the temptation to prideful guilt, just as you outlined. God bless you and Mary keep you. I also came here after reading a piece you wrote for 1P5. :)


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