She needs a hat!”
I can still remember the woman last October who yelled at my husband and me as we walked past her with our baby. Our daughter was 7 months old at the time and we were taking her on the small walk to see Horseshoe Bend. It wasn’t a particularly sunny day, but then again, maybe that’s just me trying to justify her lack of a hat.
Four words. She needs a hat! Four words, etched into my memory.
So what? Maybe she did need a hat… except all I heard in that moment was: YOU ARE A BAD MOTHER.
All parents have experienced this. Some sort of passing judgment made by a complete and total stranger who knows absolutely nothing about you or your circumstance and yet their words can ring so loudly it’s hard to hear yourself through the noise.
Some women are born with the ability to reduce the noise and stand confidently in their skin, unphased by judgmental onlookers. Some women are reinvented when they become mothers and suddenly discover the confidence they were missing before. Some women, like me, tow the line somewhere in between reveling in newfound confidence and burrowing beneath the guilt.
It was months ago I can still remember the way my heart sunk beneath my chest. The lump in my throat… so large I could choke on it. It wasn’t the worst judgment someone could make of my parenting choices and it certainly wasn’t going to be the last.
After that day, I realized I had some work to do on myself.
Mom guilt is the real deal, but does it have to be so? We give our spouses grace when they mess up; we give our children grace when they make mistakes; we give strangers grace in uncomfortable circumstances; so why not ourselves? Why don’t we take the time to practice grace over mom guilt?
There will be days when we lose our patience.
There will be days when we yell.
There will be days when we break down.
There will be days when things don’t go as planned.
There will be days when our kids get hurt.
There will be days when we’re late.
There will be days when nobody is put together.
There will be days when the house is a mess.
There will be days when we let people down.
There will be days when we feel like complete and total failures.
We are perfectly imperfect humans and it doesn’t make us any less of a parent. Whether you’re unphased by those judgmental onlookers, overtaken by them, or somewhere in between… We have the opportunity to teach our children that we aren’t perfect and that it’s actually a really beautiful thing. There’s power in imperfection; there’s learning and growing and strengthening through failure. By practicing grace with ourselves and losing the mom guilt, we can teach our children how to love themselves and others through both their triumphs and their failures.