April 12, 2016

How I Deal With Mom Guilt

My husband and I welcomed our little baby boy, Carter, into the world on January 31 last year. As you can imagine, we were filled with a flood of emotions: excitement and anxiety, gratitude and uncertainty, relief and fear. But...

How I Deal With Mom Guilt

My husband and I welcomed our little baby boy, Carter, into the world on January 31 last year. As you can imagine, we were filled with a flood of emotions: excitement and anxiety, gratitude and uncertainty, relief and fear. But there is one stressful emotion that I started experiencing the day my child was born, and unfortunately, I believe I’ll battle it the rest of my life—guilt.

You know that feeling, don’t you? I’ve been a mom all of five minutes and I already know it all too well.

It’s that feeling in the back of your mind that you’ve done something wrong, you’re not doing enough, and you could have done it better. It’s the feeling that all of the thousands of choices you have to make that affect these little lives that God has entrusted you with are probably wrong. It’s feeling that everyone else has this parenting thing figured out and you don’t.

I don’t think anyone is immune to it, and I don’t think you ever fully graduate out of it.

I’ll be honest: Most days, I don’t even feel like a mom. I feel like a poser. I feel like maybe I am the babysitter, and I just keep waiting for the real mom to come home, swoop in, and take over with confidence and certainty and all of the right answers.

Many things make that guilt flare up, but the one that seems to do it the most for moms is around how or where we work.

And the mom guilt gets you regardless of the path you choose. If you work outside the home, you feel guilty for not staying with your kids. If you stay home with your kids, you feel guilty for not working outside the home.

But God reminded me of something recently as I’ve gone back to work that has helped me shake the mom guilt a little bit. When I was feeling discouraged about leaving my son at daycare one day, I felt God say this:

“Remember that what you’re doing is important.”

I felt immediate relief as I rested in that.

And you know what? That’s true. What I am doing is important. The work that I do, the messages that I share and the lives that I get to impact are important.

It would be really difficult to leave my son for something I didn’t believe in. But I practice in my daily life what I teach on stage: I only spend my time on things that are important to me. So when I focus on the importance of what I am doing, I keep the mom guilt from distracting me from living out the life God has called me to.

But focusing on the importance of what you do goes the other way too.

So when I don’t answer emails at night because I am being present with my family, leave the office on time to go for a run, or take time off to go on vacation and rest, I choose to not feel guilty. When everyone around me is working 70–80 hours a week, I remind myself again: What I am doing is important. My family, my exercise, my rest, my hobbies, my values—those things are important.

I love how my friend Tony explains it. He says, “I’m always driving to somewhere I love. When I’m driving to work, I’m driving to a place that I love. When I’m driving home, I am driving to a place that I love.” It’s the difference of looking through the front windshield and where you’re going, rather than the rearview mirror and what you’re momentarily leaving behind.

That’s how I’m able to be fully present and guilt-free at work, and again fully present and guilt-free at home as well. Don’t look at what you’re leaving behind. Focus on the importance of what you’re going to. Wherever you are, be there.

So the next time you’ve got guilt nagging at you no matter what choice you make, remind yourself that what you’re doing is important. It’s important not only for you, but also for everyone else in your life too.

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Leave a Comment

  1. Christina says:

    Your posts tend to be perfect timing for me. I’m currently a stay at home mom who has tried a bunch of work at home options, and I’m really excited about a chance I have to work outside of the home. It’s a big shift in my plans, but I’m very excited about the possibilities.

    You are right that no matter what path one chooses there is some guilt involved. I love the idea of looking out of my windshield in a new way. I’m all about perspective and that’s one I’m going to hang onto.

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. Waynna LeBrija says:

    I think I struggle with guilt because of the standards placed on me from family, friends & society. Plus, I tend to look at the lives of others and do the comparison thing. You’re so right, it’s a choice to not feel guilty and to look in the windshield and not the rearview mirror (which I also do a lot). Thank you for sharing!!

  3. Jennifer Haston says:

    HI Christy! Great post! My mom has been trying to teach me the “no guilt” way of life for quite some time. I am sure it will continue to be something I work on daily, hourly, minutely… etc.. Thanks for the honesty!

  4. Tiffany Olson says:

    I love the idea that you are always headed toward something you love. It’s a great way to keep your focus in the right place. Thank you Christy and have a great day!

  5. Laurie says:

    Thank you, I loved reading this. It does seem like “every” mom does it so well and I tend to forget we’re glimpsing moments of their lives and missing the tantrums etc. that they may face. Thank you for your honesty and perspective!

  6. Carly says:

    I read this post when you published it and re-read it again yesterday before my first day back at work after maternity leave. I reminded myself all day that I am called to do my job. Driving to work, I realized I really do love what I do and am happy to go there. Thank you for your encouragement, Christy! You made a tough day a little bit easier.