The guilt washed over me in waves as we drove home from the beach. How could I have forgotten the sunscreen at home? Even worse, why didn’t we just pack up and leave once I realized my mistake? One look back at my uncomfortably sunburnt children in the back seat was enough to make me sure I was a bad mom – probably the worst mom on the planet.
If you have kids, I know you’ve been there too. It’s so easy to see ourselves in a negative light – to zoom in on our mistakes so much that we don’t see the big picture. But mom guilt, as convincing as it is, gets us nowhere.
Here are 10 truths to remember when you feel like a bad mom:
They’ve helped me so much. I hope they help you too.
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1. There’s no such thing as a perfect mom.
We all want to raise our kids well, to set them up to live a good life – hopefully without screwing them up too much. But it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing we have to be the perfect parent to make that happen. The truth is though, there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. Believing we somehow should be just sets us up for a boatload of stress and anxiety. You’re not perfect. Join the club.
2. You care enough to question yourself, and that’s important.
The fact that you feel like a bad mom is actually a good thing. It means that you’re teachable, and that you realize you have room to improve. Feeling like a bad mom means you care, and caring is what really matters. Also,
3. Parenting is the most challenging thing you’ll ever do, and it doesn’t come with a guidebook.
Raising kids is hard. Especially when you hear a million opinions of how it should be done, but none of them agree. You’re tackling a really hard thing here, so give yourself some credit! Especially since,
4. Each child is unique and comes their own set of gifts and challenges.
You are raising the only child like your child in the whole entire world. Sure, there are some similarities in personality and interests. But really, this kid is unique. They’re a puzzle, and it’s going to take some trial and error to figure them out. Trial and ERROR. Have I mentioned that you’re not going to do this perfectly? I won’t either.
5. Mistakes are not the end of the world.
You are human, and you are going to make mistakes. Even big, painful mistakes are not the end of the world. They’re just part of life. Your kids already know you’re human. They’ve seen you screw up before. They’re learning from you how to handle making mistakes. In fact,
6. This is an awesome opportunity to model grace – for yourself.
Giving yourself grace when you’re feeling like a bad mom, is the best thing you can do for yourself, and your kids. They need to see what it’s like when an adult can get back up from a mistake, dust themselves off, and keep going. Would you want your child to beat themselves up over and over for not doing something perfectly? No? Show them how to extend grace to others and themselves. Also,
7. A heartfelt apology is worth more than gold.
Another amazing thing you can do for your kids, is to give them a heartfelt apology when you screw up. This shows them you care, and models mature adult life skills – cleaning up after yourself when you’ve made a mess. Humbly admitting your mistakes and asking for forgiveness isn’t always easy, but it’s so worth it. And it’s even more important because,
8. These kids are in YOUR life for a reason.
God put these kids in YOUR life – whether you gave birth to them or they became yours through marriage or adoption. YOU are in their lives for a reason. There is something special that they need from you. Not the supermom down the street, not your sugary sweet, soft-spoken neighbor next door. YOU. And being there, imperfections and all, is what they need from you. Besides,
9. Tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it.
It’s another opportunity to start fresh, and to learn from our past failures and keep moving forward. Now, let’s be honest, there WILL be mistakes tomorrow too. But that’s okay, because no one is doing this perfectly. And the truth is,
10. Kids are incredibly resilient.
All around the world there are kids surviving far more than the worst that you, a loving mom, could ever fail to do for your kids. Do your children eat regularly and sleep in a warm bed? Are they being supervised, educated, and loved on a regular basis? I bet they are. Even with the challenges they face being raised by an imperfect parent, the overwhelming chances are, they’ll be just fine.
“There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.” – Jill Churchill
The guilt – the bad mom feelings – are such a lie.
My kids may be sunburnt, but that’s because I cared enough to pack a picnic lunch and drive them to the beach. We lose our patience because we’re there, present in their lives. We drop them off at daycare because we’re committed to putting food on the table and a roof over their heads. We mess up because we’re human, and we feel guilty because we care. And we’re good moms because caring is what really matters anyway.
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Jamie Siebens is a freelance writer and owner of Always-an-Adventure.com, a blog focused on living intentionally and finding beauty in the everyday adventures of life. When she’s not behind a computer screen, you can find her with her husband and two daughters enjoying their current adventure – turning a former 1890’s one room schoolhouse and town hall into their cozy family home.