Mother Guilt

My littlest asked me about her first word the other day. I looked over and honestly, I blanked. I couldn't remember. I stammered and said, "I'll have to think of it."

Not long afterwards, she said, "Mommy, what time was I born?" Again...I panicked. I couldn't recall. "Honey, it was in the early afternoon. Twelve or one o'clock...I'll have to look for the pictures." Then I realized I hadn't properly created a baby book for her because my scrap booking days were replaced by counseling sessions. And then it was as if a dump truck slowly backed up and raised its bed and heaped a load of guilt on me - some of the worst guilt: mother guilt. I felt horrible that I couldn't recall these special moments kids love to know about their first days. The truth is, not only do I not recall numbers very well, my littlest was born at a rough time in my life.


I was already sleep deprived due to pregnancy, caring for a newborn and mothering her two older sisters. On top of that, my marriage was probably at it's lowest point. I didn't know what exactly was wrong but I knew that addiction and depression for eroding anything my husband and I had built during the first 10 years of marriage. My sweet, tender-hearted daughter entered the world while I was merely surviving day by day. I would send her sisters to school and spend the better part of each day crying and wringing my hands in despair. And now, when the questions come about her early days, it's often her sisters who will recall things for me because I simply don't remember.

Mother guilt. It's heaped upon us from many angles these days. Pinterest tells us our school snacks are boring, too plain and not very nutritious. Pottery Barn catalogs mock our housekeeping and decorating skills. And let's not forget the other moms who whisper and smirk behind cellphones and sunglasses. If we're not condemning ourselves, someone is likely waiting at the chance to do it for us.

I got to thinking about moms in the Bible who might have struggled with the guilt thing. How about Rebecca? She conspired against her own husband and oldest son and taught her favorite son how to lie to achieve a blessing. She went about favoring one child over another which created a terrible family dynamic.

There was Moses' mother, Jochebed. She sent her little baby down the river to be raised in the Pharoah's household so he would not grow up a slave. She thought this would be his best chance at a better life. Ultimately, Moses did great things but not without a struggle. He was once so angered and torn between his Hebrew roots and the Egyptian oppression he murdered a task master. I wonder if his mom felt some guilt and anguish over that ordeal.

During Easter, I considered Mary. A sweet, young mother who broke into song after receiving the news of her pregnancy from an angel. She rejoiced that her God saw her to be His servant even though she was lowly in stature. She rejoiced in the coming salvation her baby would bring. She pondered these things in her heart. But what about the cross? Like the song, "Mary Did You Know", we wonder just what ran through Mary's mind as the events of Jesus' life played out before her. Did she feel like she delivered her son directly into the hands of a bloodthirsty enemy? I think moms ache deeply for Mary.

Even though I have struggled mightily with the mother guilt, I know deep down it is not from the Lord. While I regret moments in our family and hurt it may have caused my kids, I cling to the fact that God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) I know that my husband and I love God and our children do, too. Our God is much bigger than many days of dysfunction and He can weave those days into His beautiful tapestry of grace.

Let's look back at these bible moms. Although Rebecca set her son on a course of difficulty, Jacob later wrestled with God, was renamed Israel, and an entire nation was named after him. Jochebed's name means "glory of Jehovah". She's the first person named in the bible to have her name combined with God's name, "Jah". How striking that a mother who surrendered her son for the good of a people would be called "God's Glory". A bit of foreshadowing. And finally, Mary. We know the end of her story. I dare say as gut wrenching and impossible her situation became, she had the comfort of the resurrection. She was not only witness to the birth, death and resurrection of her son but the coming of the Holy Spirit. She's the only one to have witnessed all four events. I imagine the anguish was literally blown away by the mighty wind of her son's spirit.

12:56pm. That's what time my littlest broke free into the world. That's the moment that changed my family forever. Her name is Josephine and it means, "God will add". We chose her name partly in jest because God surprised us when He added her. Little did we know that her name would mean so much more. He added constant hugs and wonder. He added a little girl who loves Him fiercely and shares her love with others so freely. God has already shown me how the struggles are being redeemed daily.

I pray that every mom who feels the heap upon her takes it directly to God and lays the guilt at the foot of the cross. The cross was erected upon a trash heap - the garbage and waste of an entire city. If it can bring salvation to the world from atop a stinking heap of garbage it can bring healing for your heap of guilt.