On Mom Guilt (Chapter One Thousand)

my mom guilt

So I missed my son’s Veterans’ Day reception this week.

In fact, I’m writing this right after I got a text from a friend with video of the event. The sweetest little voices singing the sweetest little patriotic songs arranged in the sweetest little line across the stage. And me, definitely not there.

One would think there would be a statute of limitations on mom guilt. Some point in time when, after you’ve hit a certain number of transgressions, you’re not longer subject to its pain.

I’m disappointed–and not just a little bit misty–to report that that is indeed and very much NOT the case.

Guilt is that unique kind of pain that is subtle but strong. Doesn’t pack the strongest initial punch, but it stays, hangs around. A low-grade karmic fever that you can’t kick.

So today, even though I’ve been to countless other “things” with my son, and separate events with my daughters, I carry that old friend with me again.

The Mom Guilt.

When seasoned moms told me early on in my motherhood journey that I would experience this time and time again, I honestly didn’t believe them. “Just let it go,” the former version of me would have said–not understanding that with mom guilt, and actually with most things in parenting–little to nothing comes, or goes, easily.

See, the thing is, we are tied to our kids by invisible strings not only of love, but also of responsibility, whether real or perceived. It manifests usually with these three words: “I should be [fill in the blank].” And even though I am nearly certain my son will not remember the day when I missed his Veterans’ Day reception, the dutiful, must-do-it-all mom in me will not forget.

I don’t have an answer here or a tidy way to tie this all in, but I will say this, in hopes that it sinks in with me just as much as it might with you. And that is, the biggest part of me–the part that needs to forget that we all sometimes suck at this motherhood job–knows that our kids mainly remember the Big Things, anyway.
They’re not keeping score of all the things we didn’t do versus the things we did, with the grand plan of tallying them all up one day to give us our Parent Report Card.

In fact, I believe they’re grading us by how we make them feel. Day in, day out. Our worth, our value, to them, is added up from all the times that we are there and make it count. All the love that we give when we do show up.

That’s the space where I’m deciding to live, knowing full well that it–and I–am enough.


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