Surviving the parent guilt

This summer y’all…it might be my favorite one we have ever had…and it might do me in at the same time. I was so ready for our kids to be out of school this year. Spring was busy with gymnastics for my girl and swim clinics for my boy, work transitions for my husband, and a myriad of home and work things for me. By the time May rolled around we were all so over it and I’m pretty sure we just barely scrapped ourselves across that finish line on the last day of school.

During summer months my work schedule gets a little tricky because I want to be home and available for our children as much as possible. I utilize the fringe hours between practices and “moms-taxi” rides (and lets be honest…I can get a whole lot down from the privacy of my own bathroom if I let Disney parent them just a little during the day too!). We plan fun things for them and I probably spend way too much money on things like shaved ice and pool snacks but…memories. We’e creating memories here.

Last week our kids went to their first overnight camp and it did a doozy on my mama heart. We want our kids to grow up and be strong, independent, good humans who love Jesus and all people. I want them to be able to do stuff on their own. But gracious…a whole week of them not needing me and being away wrecked my heart. I just felt SO bad, so guilty for sending them. I knew they were having a blast but every time I did anything “fun” that I knew they would love…I felt awful. Guilt…big, fat, unnecessary guilt. Why did I do that to myself?! My children were off making the memories of a lifetime and all I could do was sit at my desk and miss them or think about how bad I felt going to dinner or buying a new shirt without doing the same for them. We function better when we are all together but “for the love…let them go a little bit, mama,” she said to herself over and over and over again.

So how do we deal with it, friends? I mean…a glass of wine and a Netflix binge can help curb the sulk and all but…I’m talking how do we REALLY deal with it? For me…for us…it all comes down to a resting in a few truths we have landed on in the last decade we’ve been at this parenting thing. This is NOT to say we have it all…or ANYTHING…figured out…but to offer just a smidge of relief when you get caught up in fear and worry and guilt in the game of parenting.

We combat guilt with knowing that we are loving them well and trusting that they know that. Our kids thrive best when my husband and I are on the same page. Taking care of us takes care of them. When we are off and things feel disconnected, they feel it too. Spending time together, giving each other undivided attention, and enjoying that time will benefit your family big time.

We fight the guilt off by praying and asking the Lord to take care of our babies when they/we are away and y’all…we just say THANK YOU and let that be it. Gratitude is the solution for pushing away parent guilt. I read a post today by Jon Acuff that said, “refusing a compliment is like asking for it twice” and that totally related to parent guilt for me. If we feel crappy when we don’t get to enjoy certain things because time-money-time-money (repeat over and over and over again) and then we don’t enjoy the time/things when we actually DO get that chance to do them…we are refusing the gift of time. Don’t do that to yourself. Be grateful…be so grateful and thankful and soak up every second of it because you will carry that gratitude with you long after the experience.

Y’all…there are days where I can not WAIT to leave my house to go to the grocery store alone or put my little squish faced pre-pre-teens to bed because being their mama is hard work. *And by “hard work” I mean the actual hardest work I have ever done because I want my children to grow up and be the kind of adults that honor Jesus and leave this planet better than when they got here. There are days when I look at the clock and just don’t want them to close their eyes and go to sleep because I don’t want the day to end. And I’ll admit that I really get annoyed when people post things like, ” We only have 18 summers with our children before they are gone,” because it makes me feel like a wretched troll when the days are hard and I don’t enjoy them. But it’s true. And I don’t want to waste my days feeling ANYTHING but gratitude and as much love as my bones can muster up for these babies and this journey in parenthood with my best friend.

The amount of time you’ve spent thinking about whether or not you are doing a good job of parenting your kids is a pretty good indicator that you are doing a good job. If you care enough to be in check and want to make sure they are feeling loved, there is no room for guilt at the table. Warnings and nudges from the Holy Spirit…yes….silly mom/dad guilt over eating their favorite snack or going to a movie when they are away…not at all. <3

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