My two-year-old PJ launched off the couch flying through the air when he should have been putting his pants on.
My nine-month-old Joey had been crying for the last hour. He was fed, changed, and had all of his basic needs taken care of — except for me holding him.
We were in a rush to leave, and I had no choice but to listen to the soundtrack of Joey’s cries while maintaining my sanity. As I ran from room to room searching for my missing shoe, it dawned on me that I hadn’t fed PJ. My best option was Goldfish and juice. Not some organic omega3 fish crackers… Just plain ol’ Goldfish crackers. And I didn’t even want to see how many grams of sugar were in that juice….
I found the first sippy cup I could get my hands on, splashed some water in the cup, only to realize that it smelled like mildew. I frantically started washing the cup as thoroughly and quickly as I could.
Meanwhile, the crying soundtrack was still playing… and getting louder. I was on edge, and if one more thing went wrong, I felt that I could no longer resist the temptation to lose it.
Then, out the corner of my eye, I saw my two-year-old flying through the air yet again…still with no pants on.
That was my last straw… I lost it.
I stormed out of the kitchen with my arms flailing about screaming,
WHAT DID I TELL YOU??? SIT DOWN! RIGHT NOW! AND PUT YOUR PANTS ON!
OH. MY GOSH. JOEY STOP CRYING!!!!
Needing to walk out of the door, I managed to throw some stuff in my bag: diapers, wipes, goldfish, and the sugar loaded juice inside of the sketchy cup.
I loaded the boys in the car only to feel the weight of the world on my shoulders.
That’s when I paused for a moment to realize that I had yelled at my toddler and screamed at my baby.
I was dealing with the fact that I was anxious, angry, and had a hungry child.
Then a voice said,
You’re a terrible mom
In that very moment, I had a choice to make. Accept that as the truth or reject it as a lie.
I rejected it. I had believed that lie too many times before and it always harmed me.
What To Do When You Feel Like a Terrible Mom?
Look At The Big Picture
Step back, get out of the moment, look at the big picture, and decide what’s most important. What will have the lasting impact? In my situation, my words and how I spoke them had more impact than Goldfish breakfast ever would. Sometimes, when we are living our day to day lives it’s easy to focus on the now. If we look at things in a broader scope we can see that the details don’t always matter.
But the EVEN bigger picture is that God handpicked you to nurture your children even though He knew that you’d mess up. Terrible moments don’t make me a terrible mom. Don’t let single moments of falling short define your entire motherhood. Rather, let the grace and love you give and receive from God define it.
When we carry the weight of our faults we forfeit our right to live freely. The first thing I do when I mess up is to ask God for forgiveness. If my children offended me with disobedience I need to offer my forgiveness towards them as well. And when I know that I’ve mistreated my children, I humbly apologize. An apology to your child will mean more to them than you think; the best part is that they forgive quickly.
But sometimes the hardest person to forgive is myself. There have been times when I’ve played and replayed the scenes of my mess-ups in my mind. I’ve been harder on myself than anyone else, including God. If God has forgiven me, then who I am I not to. When I forgive myself, I fully embrace the undeserved kindness, mercy, and grace of my loving Father. When I walk in forgiveness towards myself and others I have the ability to love and live without heavy weights tied to my heart.
Be Ready To Change
What is making you feel terrible? Where is the guilt coming from? Do you feel like your temper is shorter than what it should be?
If you feel that there’s something in you that is causing you do terrible things, be ready to change it. Be ready to do whatever it takes to be better for you and your family. Whether it be counseling, asking God to heal you of something from your past, immersing yourself with self-growth, getting organized, meal planning, or a good ol’ hard look in the mirror, there’s always something that you can do to become better than before. We have to do what we can to eliminate the “terrible mom” triggers. With Christ helping us, we can always decide to change and become the mothers that we are destined to be.
Tap Into The Source
Most times when we feel terrible it’s because we are relying on our own strength. I’ve proven to myself over and over that my strength is of an ant. Yes, it may appear that I can carry a heavy load for my size, but when you have the perspective of God, that load that I’m carrying is a crumb. My own strength is limited, so is my patience, so is my wisdom, and so is my love… But in Christ all of these things are limitless. So tap into God’s strength and ability and ride on the wings of His love.
If you ever believed that you are a terrible mom chances are you are a wonderful mom because you care enough to want to be great for your children. So don’t buy into that “Terrible Mom” lie! Hug your child, tell them you love them, and depend on God like crazy to get it right.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.