Mom Guilt: What a Rip-off!

Some of the scariest words you can hear while your 4-year-old sits on your lap are, “mommy, you’re getting all wet!” That’s right. Hudson had decided to skip a trip to the bathroom. Peeing in mommy’s lap would work just as well! As I removed the foul-smelling, pee-soaked, 30-pound urchin from my now-defiled legs, I was shocked by the emotion I felt. Was it anger? Rage? A need to retaliate? No. It was Mom Guilt– that dreaded foe who often pays me an un-welcomed visit—like a neighbor who somehow found a key to my house and makes unannounced visits to my living-room, bringing cyanide-laced coffee, and rat-poison cookies for me to “enjoy.”

Why is Hudson still wetting himself? He’s 4 years old for goodness’ sakes. Clearly, I’m not doing something right or else he’d have gotten the whole potty thing down by now. (cringing) I’ll bet it’s because I just recently had twins, and was on bed-rest for 6 months before that. He’s most definitely feeling unloved…and rejected. Oh man, this is all my fault! He’s never going to get over the grief that my having twins has caused him! He’ll wet himself forever!

Sound familiar? Another attack of Mom Guilt—that sneaky little voice that first tells you how badly you’ve messed up and then assures you that your kids are destined to be screwed up because of it.

I’ve entertained many visits from Mom Guilt over the past 4 years.

It started when I had a c-section with Hudson, my first-born. Living in Northern California, a natural-birth is the much more respected form of childbirth. But, after 36 hours of horrific back labor, 9-lb Hudson actually traveled back up the birth canal. A sonogram confirmed that he was having too much trouble descending into the birth canal because he was positioned backwards and sideways, so a c-section was the only wise thing to do. Later, well-meaning friends couldn’t understand why I would let the doctors talk me into such a thing. “I was just trying to save my baby’s life,” I thought. And yet I heard Mom Guilt screaming, “You didn’t do enough. Women are created to give birth naturally. You just weren’t cut out for this.”

A few months later, I realized that Hudson seemed to march to the beat of a different drum, developmentally. He didn’t like to be held. He had a very hard time nursing. He was slow to make eye-contact, and try as I may, I could not figure out how to play with him. He was waking up 10 times or more each night, though I was following “Baby Wise’s” directives to the letter. He didn’t say a word, not even “mama,” until he was 2 years old. Enter Mom Guilt, with her shifty smile and shame-inducing voice shouting, “See. I guess you aren’t cut out for this mom thing after all.”

There were so many things to feel guilty about. Hudson wouldn’t eat a single fruit or veggie. I tried. And I tried again. I begged. I bribed! I sneaked them into smoothies, pastas, burgers, everything. I bought books on the subject. I enrolled him in several therapies. And yet, he refused to eat anything except a hand-full of non-nutritious foods. Before I had kids, I snubbed my nose at friends who allowed their kids to eat sugar, but I found myself begging Hudson to eat anything—ice cream, candy, sugar-coated cereal—I just wanted him to eat something! (By the way, Hudson is doing great now.)

There are so many things I have felt guilty about. My water broke 8 weeks early with Cooper, my now 2-year-old. Must’ve been something I did. I lived in the hospital for a while. Then, he was in the NICU. Will he feel loved by me because strangers are taking care of him and not his own mom? How do I not ignore Hudson while I’m at the hospital every day? Cooper caught RSV at 2 months old because I didn’t feel right about giving him the vaccine. Guilt guilt guilt. His lungs might be damaged for years, said the doctor. Later, we discovered that both of our boys had hearing loss, and all indications were that it was hereditary. What was wrong with me? With Hudson’s developmental challenges and now this hearing loss, I thought, “I should never have had kids with genes like mine.” Now I’ve had twins and have 4 kids under the age of 4. What kind of mother does such a thing to her kids? I will never be able to give them the attention that they deserve.

I don’t read. I don’t sew. I don’t clip coupons. I don’t cook. I don’t make the cute crafts that I see on Pinterest. My house is a mess. My kids disobey. I give them fast-food. But I change diapers. I go to doctors’ appointments. I nurse twins. I kiss boo-boos. I survive.

“You survive?” Taunts Mom Guilt. “Is that really good enough? You need to be more. Your kids will suffer. You are definitely not cut out to have 4 kids under the age of 4.”

Who knows how many times I’ve believed Mom Guilt’s opinion of me over the past 4 years. I feel guilty just thinking about how often I’ve felt guilty! But here’s the real question—has Mom Guilt ever encouraged me to clean up my mess, or does she just rub my face in it? Has she ever helped me be a better mom in any form or fashion? When I feel guilty, I disconnect myself from my kids, which makes me feel guilty about my lack of connection, and then I shut down. What a devious little scheme she plays. She’s ripped me off from one of the most priceless things I’ve been given–time with my kids.

Today, I read this verse. John 8:44—He (the devil) was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Could it be that Mom Guilt is the daughter of the father of lies?

This year, I am resolved to tell Mom Guilt that she can take her rat-poison cookies and shove it! I’m calling her bluff. In fact, I am going to shout the word “lie” every time I hear her sneaky little voice whisper into my ear.

“You aren’t a good mother.” LIE!

“You weren’t cut out for motherhood.” LIE!

“You need to be more. Do more. Give more.” LIE, LIE, LIE!

And furthermore, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” so even if I do need to change the way I parent, God can help me. Mom Guilt cannot. Mom Guilt brings death. God, the Father, brings life.

So, the next time Hudson pees (or worse….poops) on my lap, I think I’ll look Mom Guilt square in the eye, steal my house key back from her, and expose her for the liar and un-welcomed guest that she really is.


27 thoughts on “Mom Guilt: What a Rip-off!”

  1. Seriously. Sobbing. And remembering your mother’s words of wisdom to me when I was struggling: “What lie are you believing?” So proud of you Tiffany. Beautifully written post. Bottom line: Life is Life. It deals its own blows and blessings. You aren’t immune because you are a believer. Keep up the good work!

  2. Ok this is exactly what I needed to read right now. Thx for posting this and being vulnerable. I feel guilty for not doing Pinterest crafts either! Blech! What’s that got to do about being a good mother. I am going to work to recognize the lies as well because since I’ve had Lexi, I’ve not felt cut out for being a mother and that’s not true. THanks again for this. I so needed this.

  3. Wonderful. I didn’t even realize you were able to breastfeed again. When I look at you, all I can see is accomplishments to get excited about!

  4. You ROCK!!! What an amazing writer you are; what an amazing mom you are. You are strong, brave, and incredibly talented. Thank you for being so real. You’ve got me hooked and wanting more. I look up to you and respect you so much. You are creating a ‘NO MORE MOM-GUILT’ Revolution and I am taking my house keys back, too…NO MORE LIES!

  5. Tiffany, I needed to read this so badly right now. I’ve been experiencing such extreme emotions lately that totally aren’t me, and I can’t figure out why. And this article totally resonated in my spirit…I feel guilt that I’m not doing things right with Serenity, as a wife…. and then if anyone else in my life criticizes me or hurts my feelings…oh boy. I’ve felt like i’m just going to explode one of these days. Your article helped me realize what I’m feeling and experiencing right now. No more!

  6. I wore Isaiah’s scripture “He gently leads those who are with young” like a life preserver! I have eight kids now mostly grown and doing well. Not one wets themselves! Yay! They have as they grew into adulthood learned to like veggies and whole grain bread. I don’t know if the easy access to communication of all sorts escalates mommy guilt but that intrusive guilt was around while I was trying to keep it together and was in the competetive race to be the perfect mom, wife, christian in the years of child raising…wait I am still finishing those years up with a couple high schoolers who don’t want to play sports or like school or always be in church on sunday morning, who love to watch horror movies (what christian mom allows that garbage in!!!? yes I still hear the voice), yet are fun, caring, beautiful kids…Thank you dear Tiffany for being vulnerable and shining a light on the lie moms everywhere need to recognize. Bless you and know you are doing a good job. You are the right mom for those 4 under 4.

  7. Wow! Who would think you’re a bad mom?? Handling 4 kids, 4 and under with twins last and nursing them: that’s a task for a superwoman!! I know what I’m talking about, I have 3 ages 4 and under with twins at the end. But my chance is I had 2 other ones before that, 10 and 8, with whom I learned and died, so I don’t care as much anymore. And I know I’m superwoman! We’ve had trouble with our 4 year old also because of the twins arrival, but it’s getting better, so hang in there, he’ll be alright. He’s loved and that’s enough, some kids aren’t… To me, it’s amazing that you had time to even think about all this! And even more, blog about it!! You truly are a superwoman!

  8. Tears as I read this post… as a Nanny i have felt a little guilty about things, like would their mom be doing this or treat this situation differently, or am I good enough, am I too strict or too lenient… ect Love your heart and how real you are about it all! Blessing and Love in Christ

  9. Hey, Tiff!
    This scripture came to mind as I read your post:
    “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.” I Corinthians 1:26-29

    God’s ways really ARE NOT our own!

  10. Wow, this is so beautiful, Tiffany. Made me tear up because of the honesty. You have uncovered things that most of us are ashamed to admit; our kids just ate McDonald’s, and watched Spongebob for 3 hours. 😛 I desire greatness as a mother and to get more organized, on my game, etc. But these things don’t make us great mothers, it’s our heart for your children. Thank you for showing that even in our glossy, excellence- driven community, there are still real moms out there who aren’t trying to look like they have it all together. Seriously, thank you for sharing!

  11. You know what? I think every single mom struggles with it and no one really talks about it much. I know I feel it big time. Sometimes I wonder if it was wise to have 5 kids (and still want another one) so close together when I don’t balance everything very well. But, I love kids. I really do. So I have them and have to deal with accepting my imperfection and trust The Lord will fill in my gaps.

    Only 1 of my kids was a sleeper and he still wets the bed 5 out of 7 nights and he is 5 in just a couple weeks. I get it. 🙂 No, he doesn’t sleep in a pull up, I just wash a LOT of sheets. My youngest 2 don’t sleep… My oldest two were terrible sleepers… The list goes on.

    I think you are doing great. I was the oldest with twin siblings, didn’t potty train til I was 3 something, and I turned out okay, at least I would like to think so. :). Your older kids won’t be damaged. They will be so thankful for so many siblings to grow up with and have as friends as adults. Oh and my mom had a c-section with me because after 48 hours labor and 30 hours past water broken she was only a 4 and never did get the dumb drugs. I think she is the most amazing mom ever and love that she saved my life instead of trying to be a hero. She is my hero. You are Hudson’s hero.

    Thanks for being so open. Being a mom is hard.

  12. You are seriously a rock star. OH my goodness. You just say what so many of us go through. I love you so dearly. And I think you are such a wonderful Mama. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  13. You are amazing, Seriously, Total Rock star. I love you dearly. You bless me by your honesty and truth. You say what we all feel and go through. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  14. My goodness. My friend’s and I have had SO many conversations about this… that little voice that blatantly says we are not doing enough. Well, it’s SUCH a lie. Hey, you’re caring for their basic needs and loving them with every ounce you’ve got! Who cares about the rest. Apparently we will miss these years someday so there’ll be plenty of time for hobbies and a clean house. For now, let’s just be Moms!

  15. Tiffany, you’re inspiring in every way. You and Ken keep me entertained. I’ve always loved watching you two together, and then with the kids, and despite the hardships and stress of it all, you’re doing it beautifully.

  16. So glad you are writing Tiffany! Mom guilt can sneak in at any time. Even with me – even now when one boy has moved out of the house and 1 in high school! I didn’t learn about that “lier” when I was a young mom. I’m so happy you are letting others in on the ONE thing that will change their life (and their kids’)! Keep writing!!

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