Mom Guilt Should Never Ride Shotgun

No one told me it would be this hard. Okay…that’s total bullshit. I think my mom definitely told me it would be this hard.  I just didn’t believe her. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have believed anyone who told me motherhood would be the hardest thing I’d ever do. Because…my children were going to be perfect, and beautiful, and angelic—little humans who shit sunshine and vomited rainbows.

Then I actually HAD children.

And friends, it’s been hard sometimes. The past few months have been particularly exhausting. Not “I’m so busy,” or “I haven’t slept enough,” kind of hard.  Rather, the kind of hard that is felt in the deep recesses of the mind. That particular brand of worn out you feel in the secret parts of your heart.

Being “Mom” is hard.

I’m letting that sentence sit for a minute.

Being. “Mom.” Is. hard.

My fingertips itch for the delete button. It’s taking a fair amount of will power to make myself leave them there.  As soon as I tapped them out on my computer screen, Mom Guilt begged me to make them disappear.

Fucking Mom Guilt.

Some moms have babies with cancer. Some moms have babies who have been hurt in ways that cannot be repaired. Some moms have had their babies taken. Some ache in the deepest way imaginable just to be called “Mom.” And yet, here I sit, claiming this mom thing is hard. The audacity. The ingratitude. The selfishness.

Well, today I have four words for the black vacuum of shame that pulls at the pit of my stomach for admitting this mom gig has rubbed me raw lately…

Fuck you, Mom Guilt.

That felt really good.

FUCK YOU MOM GUILT.  Yep, that felt even better.

I know I have so much to be grateful for, so much for which I should get down on my knees and praise God for gifting me. Today, I’m on my knees…saying…this is hard.

I believe both are valid—each of these prayers is as important as the other.

I’ve had three conversations in the last week where I shared with trusted mom-friends how much of a struggle I’ve been feeling lately. I was met with empathy, love, and reciprocation. They too are struggling, in their own way, with their own difficulties. And they ARE  real difficulties. No, not terminal illness or the unimaginable difficulty of the loss of a child. Though, one of my most trusted mom-friends has experienced that tragedy. These are related to the particular struggle of not knowing.

Am I doing this right? Did I say the right thing? Did I do the right thing? Did I do enough? Did I do too much? Should I be doing it differently? Why did I do that? Why didn’t I do that? How will I handle this, or that, and what ever comes next?  How do I do this…right? What now? What next? What then?

The deluge of understanding that occurred when I truly realized—viscerally accepted and believed…this struggle is shared—It was an awakening I didn’t know I needed.

Sure, my rational mind knows I’m doing the best I can. My rational brain knows I’m trying to make the best choices. My rational brain knows I’m privileged and fortunate in a plethora of ways, and my kids are the same. Unfortunately, my rational brain is the back seat driver to whom my emotional brain rarely listens.

Rational Brain is in the driver’s seat when I walk away from my sobbing child, knowing that is the best choice for both of us in that particular moment, but it is Emotional Brain that responds when I’m out of eyeshot. Mom Guilt rides shotgun, navigating for Emotional Brain as we drive down alleyways and well-worn back roads that all lead to the same dark place—that place where it feels like Mom can never win. Where Mom Guilt plays tricks, trying to make me believe I am not only doing it all wrong, but also…I am alone in my feelings of failure.

Thank God for Trusted Mom-Friends.

Turns out they have built safe houses in those dark places. Should you seek one out and knock at the door—that door, when it opens…so much light floods out…it is impossible to be afraid of the dark in so much light.

Mom Guilt will try to convince you these safe houses don’t exist, or maybe they exist, but they certainly can’t be bothered with your visit. Mom Guilt is cousin to The Head Wench—she is manipulative and seductive. She will try, and sometimes succeed, in bending you to her will. You may ponder her worth from past experiences. Friends, do not be deceived. Any action done out of shame and guilt is not done out of love. Rational Brain knows this. And in this we must trust boring, bland, reliable Rational Brain. Let Rational Brain drive…just long enough to get to you the door.

Trusted Mom-Friend Safe House is open 24-7/365. Don’t let Mom Guilt convince you otherwise. If for some reason you can’t find a Trusted Mom-Friend Safe House, which I pray is never the case for any mom, there are others…Your Mom Safe House is an option for some. Your Sister Safe House has some excellent establishments.  Your Pastor Safe House is, for many, an exceptionally reliable option. Even, Your Spouse Safe House can sometimes pull-through in a pinch.

Let’s just promise each other we will go, when we need to, and find restoration in the realization that we are not alone. It is okay to feel all the feelings. This mom job has an overabundance of difficulties…separate and not mutually exclusive to it’s overabundance of joys and blessings.

Let’s promise we will both visit a Trusted Mom-Friend Safe House when we need it, and we will be one when it is needed. And it is needed. We need each other…for so many reasons, not the least of which is to make sure we never let Mom Guilt ride shotgun.


“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks, receives; and she who seeks, finds; and to she who knocks, it will be opened.” — Luke 11:9-10