Drop the Mom Shame
I always knew I would be a mom. I had it all planned out. Happily married with two kids… a boy and a girl before I was 35. That was the plan. Then God shook his head and said, “My dear, that’s not the plan. My plan is way better.” So after a divorce, counseling, a heartbreak that rocked my world, depression, anxiety and a TON of shame as a Mom, I found myself almost 40 and still wondering how the hell this plan of His was better.
He was right…His plan is better, but of all the difficult “classes” He has thrown my way, mom shame has been one of the most difficult of all…because it never seems to pass or settle down in any way. All the other stuff I knew I could overcome, but the shame I sometimes feel as I navigate motherhood is something I thought I was just stuck with…like it was something a “good Mom” is just supposed to endure for life.
Mom shame for me sounds something like this…
I’m not as good of a Mom because I work outside of the home and I can’t always be there for everything.
What kind of Mom enjoys working more than she enjoys hanging out with her kid sometimes?
My daughter’s anxiety is all my fault. I ruined her.
I was so mean to her. Something is wrong with me. Good Moms don’t argue with their daughter.
I didn’t spend enough time with her before she went to her Dad’s house, therefore I’m a bad Mom.
I’m leaving my kid for 3 days to go on a work trip and good Moms don’t do that.
I make her do things for herself that other Moms normally do for their kids. I’m just not good at this Mom thing.
I shouldn’t ever be this angry with my own child.
Good Moms are more consistent with their discipline.
I shouldn’t enjoy anything as much as I enjoy being with her.
She doesn’t have the “traditional family” because I chose divorce. I’m a terrible Mom.
I couldn’t give her a little brother or sister. I failed her.
It sounds a bit ridiculous when I say these thoughts out loud.
Nothing quite gives me pride like being a Mom, but I also love working. I love teaching and coaching others, and I love putting value into the world. As satisfying as being a Mom is, I have strengths, talents, and gifts that God has given me and I shouldn’t allow myself to feel guilty or shameful about that. And neither should you. Did you know that you can be an amazing Mom, have a successful career AND enjoy things that you are interested in?
Lately, I have realized that I am the perfect Mom for my daughter in so many ways. If she didn’t have me as her Mom, maybe she wouldn’t be so independent. Maybe she wouldn’t take chances and do things that scare her. If she had a different Mom, maybe she wouldn’t adjust to things in life so easily. Maybe she wouldn’t be so compassionate towards others. Perhaps, had she not had me as her Mom, she wouldn’t stand up for herself or express her opinion. She is exactly like me and nothing like I was as a child in so many ways, but she is everything I wanted in a daughter.
I tell you all this because I know Mom shame is something that many of you experience, but it isn’t necessary or useful. While guilt can sometimes be useful, it is merely just a feeling or emotion caused by what we are thinking or believing and often we layer it with shame. Guilt causes us to take notice and may push us to make positive changes. Shame, on the other hand, is never useful. Guilt says, “I made a mistake” while shame says, “I am a mistake.” Guilt says, “I did something bad” while shame says, “I am a bad Mom.” You see the difference? Shame doesn’t do anything to improve us or help us grow. It only hides, plays small and avoids.
“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change” – Brene’ Brown
All of it is totally created by our brain when we give meaning to a neutral circumstance. It’s what our mind is making it mean about ourselves, our choices or the things happening around us. It’s taking a neutral circumstance like “I went on a work trip” and making it mean that I’m a bad Mom; and here’s the crazy part…what we make it mean is usually completely untrue. Most of the things we feel guilt or shame about as a Mom are not moral violations. They are just us doing life…making choices and decisions to the best of our ability and doing what’s necessary. It’s just us having a human experience as a Mom.
Here is what I believe to be true…
We are supposed to put value out into the world. For some of us that is working at home and for some of us, it isn’t.
We aren’t supposed to be happy with our kids 100% of the time. Life was created to have opposition…good and bad, happy and sad. Yes, sometimes we get angry, frustrated and irritated with our kids and that is all okay. It just means we’re human.
No matter what we do as Moms, we actually have little control over the actions or decisions our kids make. We can do our best to teach them everything perfectly, and they can still choose a difficult path in life. It’s only our job to allow them to have their own journey.
We are supposed to disappoint and upset our kids sometimes. They are for sure supposed to experience hard things in life. The hard is what helps them grow.
Everything is happening for them, not to them, exactly how it should, and it’s all okay.
Experiencing peace, happiness, and joy is the #1 thing we can do as a Mom that will have the biggest impact on our kids. Loving yourself, embracing your value and acknowledging your needs as a human makes you the best Mom you can possibly be.
And finally, if we weren’t good Moms, we wouldn’t be concerned about all of these things to begin with.
Pay attention to what you are making it mean about yourself as a person, as a Mom, the next time guilt comes up for you, and just decide that you’re going to drop it all. Decide to just drop the shame, show yourself some grace and remember it’s all just part of the human experience.