Mom-Guilt myths that need to go.

4:41 PM

   Randy and I are currently on a little getaway to San Diego, without kids, in celebration of our 8th anniversary and his 33rd birthday.   The sun is shining and the city is beautiful and the food is amazing, but I think what we've enjoyed most so far is getting in and out of a car without dealing with car seats, eating our food while it is still hot, sleeping through a night undisturbed, and walking the streets of the city without pushing a stroller or wearing an Ergo.  Oh, also talking about deep and important things without 436 interruptions.  Also reading on a plane.  Also....o.k. a lot of things.

   Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and am already starting to go a little crazy with missing them, but I also think it's important to get away alone now and then, and I wish moms would be a little easier on themselves when they do.  Because as all mothers know, any chance to get away alone with your spouse (as delightful as that prospect is), is inevitably accompanied by a tidal wave of "Mom-guilt".

   For those of you who may not be parents yet and are unfamiliar with the term, allow me to explain.  "Mom-guilt" is a popular phrase currently used to describe any feelings of guilt, shame, or inadequacy, as it applies to motherhood.  The definition of "mom-guilt" according to the Urban dictionary, is "Guilt a mother feels anytime she takes time to do something for herself, outside of work, that does not involve her children." Although I think that could be amended because, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think women experience a lot of mom-guilt associated with working as well.  Anyway, moving on.

   I'm not sure when this started, but I wish I could go back in time and interview mothers from every generation since the beginning to time, to pinpoint when and where this phenomenon first occurred.  Was it not an issue in the past because Moms just strapped their babies to their backs and went everywhere with them?  I wonder what the first recorded instance ever was of a mother leaving her child.  Did a hunter-gatherer leave her children in the teepee, playing with sticks as she went out to gather herbs?  Or did they always come along?  Or were they off playing all day, and only came back when it was dinner time?  We may never know.

  The point is, in our culture today, "Mom-guilt" has become so standard of a catch-phrase and ingrained in our thinking, that it has influenced and shaped our decisions and rationale.  And so today I just wanted to take a look at some of the most popular "myths of mom-guilt" as I refer to them, and see what they mean for our lives today.

1. "Our children should always come first."
   Actually, contrary to popular belief, your children didn't make you a family, they joined your family.  The day of your wedding you became a family.  And the beginning of the institution of your family (your marriage) is important and valuable and should be treated as such.

2. "We won't ever "have these years with them back again."
   That is true. And these little years are precious, that's for sure. But you also won't ever have these years of your marriage back again.  And what you will have, years down the road, is an empty house after the children have grown up and married and moved away, and there's a chance that the person left to do life with will be a stranger to you, if you haven't maintained a relationship with them over the years.

3. "Taking "me-time" is selfish."
   I actually know a mom who for YEARS subscribed to this line of thought.  I cringed every time I heard her say it, and it pained me to watch her decline any opportunity for time away from her children, all the while she seemed drained and tired and worn thin from the constant demand on her time.  How badly I wished she would take a break now and then.  Even if only to catch her breath, and come back to her husband and children refreshed and renewed and ready to be a wife/mom again with energy and vision.

4. "I can't leave them, they need me!"
    What they need more than anything in the world, is to know that they are loved and cherished and valued by Jesus, and by their parents.  And if they don't already know that, than I'm sorry to say, but skipping the ladies' night out isn't going to teach them that either, unfortunately.  They need is to see Mommy and Daddy loving each other, loving Jesus and loving them.  And if they see and know these things to be absolute truth, than leaving them for a short time is not going to un-root those truths from their hearts.

5.  "I am the only one that can see to their needs."
   I also cringe when I see/hear moms that act as if they are the only person in the world that can take care of their children.  What about Daddy?  What about Grandma?  What about cousins and aunts and other family?  I think it is so valuable to allow other people and relationships into our children's lives.  Trusting that they are loving and healthy and safe, of course.  But these other relationships will only add meaning and beauty and richness and depth to our children's lives, not detract from our own with them.  And we would be wise to allow it.

    Of course part of me is writing this post to assuage aforementioned Mom-guilt.  Ha.  I said these myths need to go, I didn't say I was immune to them!  I mean come on, we're not robots.  It's impossible to spend any amount of time whatsoever away from these precious little souls that have so completely captured our hearts, our minds and our energy.  They are our flesh and blood.  It would actually be a little bit strange (and a little bit sad) if our leaving them didn't bother us at all.  And so don't fight the fact that it bothers you.  But just because it tugs at those heart strings doesn't mean you shouldn't ever take that break.

   I trust that you hear my heart when you're reading this.  I'm sure there will be those that intend to find error in my words and misunderstand my intent, but I ask you to please have an open-mind.  Of course I'm not talking about disregarding every bit of our intuition and shutting ourselves off emotionally, forcing ourselves to leave and go when everything within us is telling us to stay.  I'm not talking about that.  You know your child.  You know your marriage.  You can listen to your heart, you don't have to become deaf and blind to your maternal instincts in order to take a little break.  I am just saying we need to do away with basing those decisions on guilt that usually isn't founded.  We need to base our decisions on love and trust and it's between us and our husbands and God and we need to give ourselves the freedom to do that, without burying ourselves under a mountain of "mom-guilt".  Anyway.

I rambled there at the end because sometimes I just can't quite think of the words to explain what's on my mind.  But nevertheless, I hope you hear my heart in all of this.  Because we're all in this together.  And I can't WAIT to get back to those little dears but I am deeply appreciating this time of quiet connection with Randy so much.  And I wish the same for you...that you can find a way to love your husband and children and God and be kind to yourself, without any guilt or shame.


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