I think the Devil cringes a little bit every time a woman becomes a mother. He knows it’s going to be harder to get between her and God when she has a daily reminder of unconditional love in her arms (and on the kitchen table, under the sink, in the laundry bin, swinging from his sister’s ridiculous shoe chandelier…). Instead of the normal bits of life that keep us from loving fully, giving freely, and feeling grateful to be known and loved by the creator of the world, we need something really, really sneaky to keep us from God.
This most powerful tool over me is destructive and pernicious. It pursues and justifies, and begins to rot my joy from within. It is sometimes louder than my four year old. Guilt. Good, old fashioned mommy-guilt. The kind that keeps me from enjoying the walk to get the mail because I didn’t first hook a baby monitor to my belt. The kind that makes me put down the quiet Hoss to pick up the whining two year old. The kind that makes me pick Hoss back up while holding the whining two year old wondering if this is what the movie Sophie’s Choice feels like to watch (I refuse).
The true evil of the mommy guilt is that it makes me believe it is true guilt, Jiminy Cricket telling me to knock it off and get back in line. On bad days, it’s my master. Those are the days when the laundry got half done, the kids are whining, I don’t have any idea what’s for dinner, and my husband comes home to a defcon 4 maelstrom of naked toddler, tattling kindergartener, swashbuckling preschooler, crying baby, and ticked off wife.
The killer is that the guilt won, and I have thrown in the towel. If I can’t do it perfectly, I should just give up. Odds are good I spent at least an hour of the day on Facebook, searching for the sense of peace clicking through birth boards and supporting troubled friends and strangers brings. Appreciation is the skin-deep band-aid for my anxiety over my mommy failings.
Sometimes my guilt doesn’t stop until I come in and find out that while I was doing just one more round of laundry, the whining Hoss drifted off to sleep on his own, or Cal is actually proud she figured out how to sound out rhinocerous without me. Sometimes I go the whole day without actually having a conversation with my son that doesn’t involve a time out.
What am I doing wrong? I know it must be something, because this guilt is eating all my sense of accomplishment for getting dinner on the table, using sippy cups instead of juice boxes, and walking back into the house when I really wanted to leave because I just knew JR would have an accident at the park. Or maybe, this guilt is not useful, constructive, or true at all. Maybe the guilt is just a way to steal my joy, my peace, and my pride in getting humanly through another day of caring for four small human beings’ every need.
Maybe my mea culpas should be chances to call out the evil that’s lurking in my Godly existence of motherly servitude. Caring for these four children every day is what I’ve done better than anything else in my life. I will not stand for guilt’s slow drip of poison to steal that truth.