The “Other” Mommy Guilt

I may be a good mom, partner, and church volunteer.  But when it comes to being a good friend, I’m a failure compared to how I was before I got married and had kids.  And I’ll tell you, it’s friend guilt, not other types of mommy guilt, that keeps me up at night (always resolving to do a better job tomorrow).

There are plenty of negative things that women tell themselves, but I believe that we moms tend to blame, condemn, and find inadequacies in ourselves better than anyone else.

“I’m not engaged enough with my children.” “I’m a helicopter mom.”  “I don’t have enough patience.”  “I’m not enough of a disciplinarian.”  “I work too much, my kids are going to be distant.”  “I don’t work outside the home, I am bored and unfulfilled.”  “Our schedule is too busy, my family is overwhelmed.”  “We don’t participate in enough activities, we are TV-loving slackers.”

Any of that sound familiar?  The worst, though, is the little voice that says: “You haven’t called your dear friend since your baby was born.  You don’t deserve to call her a friend.

Or how about: “If you text her about getting together after all this time, she’ll just laugh.  You haven’t even met her 2 year old!”

And my favorite: “If you start calling and texting a lot now, you’ll have to keep it up.  Don’t do that to yourself, you’re already stretched too far.”

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It’s time for that voice to shut up. Here are a few things I want us all to “post on the fridge,” so to speak.

1)      Your real friends get it.  They don’t think you’re a bad friend when you prioritize your family & health over everything else — because they do the same thing.  They look forward to catching up once a week, month, or year. Whatever you can both spare without going crazy with stress.  I recently had a divine grocery store run-in with a friend.  She texted me afterwards: “So great to see you, I think of you often but haven’t been able to reach out!”  It made me feel terrific to know we both wished we could see each other more, but could still rejoice over a 5-minute chat instead of feeling bitter or ashamed about our previous lack of contact.

2)      You can be honest with your friends.  The real ones will show you grace.  I have a sweet friend who always laughs when I apologize for waiting too long to call back.  “I know you, Catherine,” she says.  “I know we’ll talk eventually, it’s okay, I still love you!”  There’s such comfort and freedom in that.  Accept that grace, and more importantly – offer it freely to others.

3)      Just say “NO” to mommy guilt and friend guilt.  Mommy guilt is a bear.  Satan is thrilled when we feel we have to cook organic farmstand food for our 6 month olds, teach babies long division before kindergarten, or enroll our families in 10 committed activities each weekend.  Let’s not also stress about keeping our friends happy.  Real friends are not stewing angrily about our lack of consistent communication.  They are loving us while we’re away.

Let’s give it ALL to God, and ask Him to make our intentions and our love for our friends as clear as day.

And ask Him for more divine grocery store run-ins.  They’re good for the soul.

Share your thoughts!

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