An Open Letter To The Guilty Mother
Dear Guilty Mother,
I know you. You feel like a failure. You have had one too many embarrassing moments in the restaurant. You have shouted across the neighborhood and felt the glares of neighbors. You have met with the teacher over and over. You have been ignored, lied to, or yelled at by the children that you created and are supposed to raise to be obedient, compassionate, kind and loving. The laundry might be piled up. The bathroom is a mess. There is some sort of science experiment growing in the back of your fridge. You know it’s there. You just don’t have the energy or inclination to give a flying flip. You feel broken.
I know you. You feel guilty about the your children’s behavior. You feel guilty when their reading level is lower than a friend’s. You feel guilty that the house is a mess. You feel guilty that you yelled. You feel guilty that you didn’t yell. You feel guilty that pins stay on your Pinterest board and never turn into family moments. You feel guilty that you feel guilty because you know it doesn’t help. You feel guilty that you work and want to stay at home. You feel guilty that you stay at home and want to work. You feel guilty about almost every parenting choice you ever made.
I know you. You live under this weight, this pressure of guilt. It is almost crippling. You are exhausted. You are at the end of your rope. You see your kids behaving badly. You are trying. I know you are. They just won’t listen. You’ve tried everything. You have half finished sticker charts. You yelled. You bribed. You begged. You threatened. You took away tech as long as you could stand it. You know that people in the grocery store are judging you. You see the stares and the whispers. You may have even had someone say something to you in judgment under the guise of help. You feel judged.
I know you. You dreamed of what it would be like to be a mother as you watched your bump grow. You thought about homemade treats, playing in the park, all of those wonderful moments that make TV commercials worth watching. Why isn’t parenting like that? You feel guilty. Worse than that, you feel trapped, like a failure. You feel like a bad mother.
I know you. I’ve been you in one way shape or form many times. I’ve seen you in the faces of my clients. I’ve been to coffee with you as a friend in need. I’ve been the teacher that met with you. I’ve been your therapist as you come with feelings of depression and anxiety.
Let me tell you something that other people won’t. The fact that you feel bad, makes you a good mother. The fact that this bothers you, means that you care. You may not know this, but the fact that you care, makes you unique and wonderful. There are mothers that don’t. Believe me. I have met them as well. While your guilt doesn’t serve you, it is a sign that you want help to make things better. I am telling you that you can care without guilt and love without pressure. You just need some help to find the way.
Don’t give up, guilty mother. You can find your way. You can get help. All that you lack is the right way to communicate. The instruction manual was not given to you with the baby. You have to write it yourself. Don’t give up. You matter. Those kids need you. Find your way.
I’m proud of you, guilty mother. You are trying. Your children are loved. That’s big. So many children are not. Trust me. I know them. I’ve taught them. Your children are loved because you are a loving mother.
Now, guilty mother, this guilt is not serving you or your family. Take a breath. Forgive the past. Forgive yourself. Forgive your children. Forgive your parents. Forgive your partner. Forgiveness frees you. You do not need to carry this weight. Move forward free of the burden of the past. Move forward
Go forward and be better knowing that you are no longer the guilty mother. You are simply you. You are intelligent and strong. You will find your way. Just like in any other job, you can get the skills you need and use them. You can do this. I believe in you.
I give you permission to ask for help and to admit that you do not know everything, but are willing to learn for the betterment of your family. To understand that the world we live in is so much more complex than the world of our youth (even if your parents don’t). To know that help is out there. It makes you stronger when you ask for help. It means that you are educating yourself for the betterment of your family. You are noble, mother.
Thank you for persevering, Noble Mother. Thank you for caring. Thank you for trying to find a better way from a place of peace, love and joy. You deserve peace, love and joy. Thank you for trying. I’m proud of you.