Five inches of snow fell in Central Arkansas yesterday. We rarely get to experience the fluffy white stuff so our town always enjoys a break from the routine when snow appears. You could find kids on every corner making snowmen, sledding down the biggest hill in town, and sipping hot chocolate around a fire.
I spent the day with the kids in the snow but kept feeling a nagging sensation I needed to be inside working toward my writing deadlines, tackling my to-do list, or checking off completed chores. I finally gave myself permission to enjoy the day, free of guilt, but it required an extra effort of self-talk.
Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we insist we must be perfect in all our efforts as a mom, stepmom, wife, employee, or volunteer? How do we change those negative messages of guilt that barrage us?
I think we create guilt by comparing ourselves to others. We see a family that appears to have it together all the time and wonder why our family continues to struggle. But what we often forget is that we compare how we feel on the inside what what we see on the outside. Read that statement again. Appearances don’t usually match reality.
Another easy way we create guilt is by assuming we must do everything the way the experts tell us. I read an article recently on how to teach your children about money and as I finished it, I felt guilty. There were many things mentioned that we hadn’t done so I assumed we had done a poor job in teaching our older children about money, even though they’re managing their money well (most of the time, anyway).
An important thing to remember is that every family is different. Particularly in stepfamilies, we can’t compare how we do things with how another family does it. Our children have influences from outside our home that we can’t control. We have to accept their input and the reality of their influence.
My stepson was never taken to church when he stayed at his Mom’s house. He lived there for three years during his adolescent years and had very little exposure to a Christian life. As a young adult, he rarely steps foot into a church and seems to have little regard for living for Christ. Although it saddens me, I refuse to feel guilty over it. My husband and I did our best to expose him to Christian principles and teach him how to walk with the Lord daily when he was in our home.
Some guilt can be good and convicts us of how to live. But too often, mothers and stepmothers, carry around unnecessary guilt. We beat ourselves up regularly for less than perfect parenting.
In my next post, I will offer a few more ideas on the subject.
What do you feel guilty about? What will you do to let go of self-defeating guilt?