My son was not yet two when he decided that it would be great fun to shave as Daddy did. Somehow my toddler got Daddy’s razor and proceeded to imitate what he’d seen his father do countless times before. I found out about Jason’s experiment when he wandered into the living room with blood all over his face. He seemed unaware of the damage he’d just done.
After I calmed down from my hysteria (he didn’t cry until I did), I cleaned off all the blood and had my 3,000th attack of mother’s guilt since he’d been born. If you are a mom, you have to know what I’m talking about–replaying over and over what a bad mother you are.
I cannot tell you how many nights I would lie in bed and replay all the things I did wrong that day–like the time a cop brought my two-year-old home because she was standing in the highway. I thought she was upstairs taking her nap.
Or the time I spanked my child for not wanting to try to learn how to ride a bike. I knew as soon as I’d done it that I was way off base, but in the moment my warped rational seemed to have a life of its own. I replayed that one for years.
And now that my kids are grown, I find I still fight guilt: If I was a really loving mother, I’d volunteer to watch my daughter’s kids so she could work some extra hours, or I’d take more time off to fly to the Philippines to see my son and his wife. It never ends!
I’ve recently made the discovery that fathers don’t usually have this kind of guilt. As one father said, he feels he’s been a good dad if his children weren’t stolen by Gypsies while he’s watching them. Obviously the bar is much lower than mine was.
All I know to do with my mother guilt is to confess it to God and trust him for his forgiveness–and pray that he somehow compensates for my ineptitude. After all, he entrusted these extremely fragile lives to me, so he must have thought I could manage it with his help.
I’d love to hear from some of you on this one. What do you do to combat mother guilt? And you dads, do you ever have this kind of guilt?