In the month set aside for well-deserved celebration of mothers, we want to talk about a topic most moms wrestle with at some point ─guilt. We experience guilt over situations, decisions made, actions taken (or not), and words said (or not). This month Facets of Faith considers How has mama guilt affected your parenting?
It’s the toughest job you’ll ever love!
If you’re a mom, I (Tracy) know you’ll need no convincing. It is a tough job. There are certain seasons where you wring your hands and think, How will I ever get through this? I don’t have enough energy, wisdom, or wherewithal to do this well.
Dirty diapers. Spilled juice on a freshly scrubbed floor. Toddler season. Temper tantrums without reason. The tough stuff God uses to mold and shape us as mothers.
My son is now an adult, but that doesn’t necessarily make parenting easier. In some ways, it’s perhaps harder. Influence not completely gone, but different. Less day-to-day and more dependence on the Lord as we lose control over our children’s decision-making.
Parenting isn’t for sissies.
Lucky for us, God gives us blessings through our children and the sweet moments of days gone by we treasure up in our hearts even as we make new memories along the way. Like Jesus’ mom, Mary, we store them up as keepsakes in our memory banks. The sweet smiles, the mom I love you’s, days at the park, pushing of swing, first day of anything, saved macaroni art moments.
So many things about being a mom I wouldn’t change one single bit.
But there are others.
The I wish I would have…. (fill in the blank).
My mama guilt started at conception. I wasn’t married to my son’s father. My single in the suburbs belly bump set off a barrage of shame. There were enough shame bombs detonated by my decision to partake in pre-marital sex to destroy my mama self-esteem along the way and muddy up my decision-making ability.
Shame overwhelmed me as I sat, legs dangling over the edge of the doctor’s table waiting for him to confirm what I was terrified was true. I cried when I found out I was pregnant. How does an honor roll girl find herself in these places of dishonor? Shame that root too.
After the breaking news of my emerging belly bump leaked to the general public, shame set in deeper. I remember wishing I could get a fake wedding band, so people wouldn’t think I was single in the suburbs with baby bump.
There wasn’t celebration. No parties. No excitement from the wings. Shame. Shame. Shame on you. Couldn’t shrug it off.
I wish I would have…
waited until I was married.
thought about the consequences for my son.
thought about the consequences for myself.
realized I could have made much better choices in the men I allowed in my life back then.
And on, and on, and on.
These were the things I used to beat myself up about …. especially when his dad was missing in action and I’d have to come up with some excuse. I’d be furious inside at his absence and still secretly ashamed, blaming myself for all that his dad wasn’t back then. I “knew” it was “all my fault” that his father wasn’t around to hold his little boy’s hand, to raise him on his shoulders, and for the little boy to look up in admiration to and want to grow up to be just like his daddy.
Shame. Shame. Shame on me became, I’ll show them!
Most single mamas I know try to make up for what their little ones don’t have. We put pressure on ourselves to perform mama and papa roles (and isn’t it hard enough being “just” the mama?).
I was recently out of high school at the time. No child support and not a lot of money coming in from my secretarial job. Even so, I spent too much money ─ money I didn’t have ─ because my son had to have “the best”. Overspending and splurging on activities was my way of overcompensating for what my son didn’t have, his dad.
It’s interesting. God places young, single moms in my life today. I’ve seen this same trait in most of them. Not enough money coming in, but loving their little ones so much that they didn’t want them to do without any more than they already are─the dads they so desperately need.
I wish I would have realized when I was younger that things and activities aren’t the answer to what kids of single moms need most.
Had I known by Bible and known my Jesus then like I do now, I would have flipped to Genesis 16 and 21 and read about Hagar and Ishmael and wept and wept at God’s goodness, love, and mercy extended to us single mamas. He has extra measure of love and mercy stored up for our kids too.
I would have known not to wear shame, because my God sees me. He saw me back then, and He saw every single thing that led up to my single mama-making moment. He wasn’t going to condemn me for my bad decision. He understands. He sees. His desire is always to restore us to Him, to a position of honor and dignity seated at His right hand. He would NEVER desire us mamas (single or otherwise) to sit in a puddle of shame.
Hagar and her son were rejected and set aside, but never by their Heavenly Father! Just as He sent angels of the LORD to minister to “single” mama Hagar, He has angels overseeing us.
To which of the angels did God ever say,
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet”?
Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?─Hebrews 1:13-14 NIV
When we need a mama moment no matter what season we find ourselves in, I hope we can remember this picture in our head.
Pull up a chair and place your feet on the footstool God has for your mama weary legs. As you do, reflect upon your rightful position as a daughter of the King. You are royal. Your kiddos are too. Call on those ministering angels. Remember, God has them assigned to serve those who inherit salvation. That’s you if you’ve said yes to Jesus.
Not only did God see a wearied and worried “single” mama in Hagar, He saw her son. God will see your son or daughter too. He is the God who sees and hears those He loves. (Genesis 16:13, Genesis 21:17)
And God heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.”─Genesis 21:17-18 NKJV
I have no idea what greatness God has in store for your child, but I do know He has great plans for him or her just like God has for my son. We fear and fret, worry and wallow, when what God wants is for our mama hearts to cry out to Him and share what ails us. He doesn’t want us weighed down by shame. His desire is for us to arise. The only way that’s possible is if we release those feelings of shame and doubt.
Perhaps that’s the best gift we can get this Mother’s Day. Let’s give ourselves a mama break. Give your shame over to God and let Him set you (and your children) free to arise into your fullest potential.
One other beautiful closing revelation God reminded me of… He knew our children in our wombs. He knit them together and formed them before we even knew them. To all you single mamas out there: Your child is NOT fatherless. They have the BEST Father in the whole wide world─One who loves unconditionally, without ceasing. How much that would have reassured me had I known that when my son was small. But I know it now and it is the greatest reassurance, that when I don’t know what to do, the One who loves us MOST always does.
Be blessed all you mamas! God loves you!
Be blessed all you mamas! God loves those you deeply love!
Happy Mother’s Day dear ones!
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