Mommy Grace.  Erasing Mommy Guilt

schuller-mommygraceBy Dr. Sheila Schuller Coleman
Author of Mommy Grace: Erasing Your Mommy Guilt

As the mother of four sons, all born within a span of seven years, I never appreciated how hard it is to be a mother. While I had envisioned and anticipated the advent of my children with unrealistic and romantic notions that mothering would be easy, I found to my great shock that it was the most difficult task I had ever undertaken. I also lived many days under the cloud of guilt and fear that I was not measuring up to what I thought I should be as a good mother.

As a school principal, I have since worked with many other young mothers and learned that I am not alone in my feelings of inadequacy. Indeed, mommy guilt appears to be a struggle that plagues nearly all of us mothers on a regular basis.

Every morning I see the moms who had bad starts to their day because they end up in the school office getting tardy slips. I hear about the morning from you-know-where, muttering something under their breath that tells me they feel like bad moms. Their source of guilt can be anything from sleeping through the alarm to not helping their children with a spelling test, to not making an organic spread for their children’s lunch. But mommy guilt really ramps up when I have to call them because their child has made a poor choice at school—anywhere from pushing in line to urinating in the sink (kindergarten!).

Whenever I talk to young mothers who are beating themselves up with mommy guilt, I say, “No matter how you feel right now, you are a good mom!”

I wish I had had someone to reassure me of this when I was a young mother. I wish I had realized that what I was going through was universal. I thought if I pretended to have my act together others would continue to love and respect me. The truth was there were many times I lost my temper with my children and yelled at them, especially in the morning in my quest to get them to school on time. There were times I was too tired to read to them or play with them. All of this (and much, much more) added up to a mountain of mommy guilt.

Today—now that my sons are grown--I now look back and shake my head at how foolish I was. I did a lot of things right as a young mother. I also made more than my share of mistakes. In the final analysis, the biggest mistake I made was worrying too much, berating myself too much, and subsequently losing out on much of the joy of being a mother.

Do you, too ever feel Mommy Guilt?  Then, join the club!  Even though nobody’s saying it, all of your friends are in the same boat.  We all mess up from time to time as moms.  Nobody will ever be perfect. The good news is that it’s not necessary to be perfect.  In fact, it’s not recommended.  It’s more important to be real and authentic with your children.  As they see you mess up, pick yourself up, and embrace yourself—as you are—warts and all—you model a positive self-esteem that will do more for your children than loving them perfectly, protecting them perfectly, providing for them perfectly.  Embrace yourself—embrace Mommy Grace today—love yourself, be good to yourself, forgive yourself!  That’s the best gift you can give yourself—and your kids!

Dr. Sheila Schuller Coleman, author of Mommy Grace: Erasing Your Mommy Guilt, is currently the director of family ministries at the Crystal Cathedral and superintendent of Crystal Cathedral Schools in Orange County, California.  She has a doctorate in educational leadership and administration, and for over a decade has worked in both the public and private school arenas, mentoring schoolteachers, principals, and preschool directors.  Dr. Coleman writes a monthly column, “Ask Sheila,” that appears in the Hour of Power publications Crystal Cathedral Today and Powerlines, reaching more than 400,000 readers.