Aiden waves at me from the water. His eyes look green today; other days they’re brown, like his father’s. He blows bubbles and kicks and the teacher leads them out of the big pool and into the kiddie one.
I sit with my knees tucked to my chest, watching him. He looks so little when he’s far from me. He’s an Otter this year. We put him in swimming lessons because I didn’t put him in pre-school and I’ve not stopped feeling guilty about it.
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Trent and I discussed it every night for awhile: Aiden is not four until November, and should he start now and be one of the youngest to graduate, or should we wait, let him be one of the oldest? Aiden is gentle and sensitive and I take that seriously. I don’t want the other kids to trample his spirits, and Trent agrees. We said no to pre-school this year. I home-school him every morning, now.
But every time I tell another mother this story, I doubt myself. Every time I explain why Aiden’s not attending class, I question myself, or I mistakenly think she’s judging me, and why do we do this? And does the guilt ever end?
We worry that we don’t feed our kids enough vegetables, or that we let them watch too much TV or maybe we deprive them of it and fear they’ll be ridiculed by their friends for not knowing who Dora or Diego is.
Enough, friends. Enough of this guilt, because it’s nothing less than pride. Guilt is believing that we could, at some point, be perfect–and we cannot be. We never will be, perfect. So let’s let it go.
There’s remorse, yes, and that is good and holy — it’s the knowing that I need to be sorry for something sinful I’ve done, but I’m done with guilt. I’m done with doubting that I know my son better than others do.
I believe in the mother-instinct.
I believe in GUT, versus GUILT. I believe the Holy Spirit resides there, in the gut, and protects all of God’s children there, and I’m leaning on him.
So here are six things in particular I refuse to apologize for.
1. I will not feel guilty for letting my kids watch some television. It allows me to read my Bible in the morning and drink a mug of hot coffee, to pray–to take care of myself and center my day around the One who made it–and so yes, I will put on a show. And I might put one on in the evening before supper, too, because we’re all sick of each other and needing Daddy to come home and it’s raining outside. Granted, we use Netflix, because it doesn’t bombard my kids with commercials, and I also try to choose programs like Super Why or Sesame Street, which teach my kids things, but sometimes they watch Curious George too, and that’s okay. Everything in moderation.
2. I will not feel guilty for disciplining my children. I weep for the lawless sons and daughters who are ruling the earth, who say they don’t feel like doing something and then get away with not doing it. I will not hurt my child, but I will discipline him when something he says or does either hurts someone else or goes against our house rules because children thrive off consistency and communication. Love is both boundaries and boundless affection.
3. I will not feel guilty for making food as enjoyable as possible. I don’t believe in waste, but I also believe food should be enjoyed. I don’t believe in kids getting to eat dessert if they haven’t finished their supper; however, I am teaching my children to listen to their tummies and if they’re full, I will not force them to finish their main course (they still don’t get dessert, though!). I try hard to feed nutritious food, but I also bake chocolate chip cookies and let my boys have “treats” or “rewards” when they do a chore or go on the potty. I want my boys to be aware and convicted that millions of children go to bed hungry every night; however, I also want them to delight in food and to see it as a gift.
4. I will not feel guilty for standing up for “the least of these” in my child’s presence. For making a fool of myself on behalf of someone who is an underdog, for fighting for the rights of another human being, for appearing “odd” or “weird” while protecting and defending a person who is being hurt. I will fight, and let my sons see what it means to bring justice to a broken world. I will not worry about what others say or think; I will do my best as a mother and as a human to love mercy and seek justice and walk humbly with my God.
5. I will not feel guilty for being a working mom. Granted, I get to work from home–but it still “takes me away” from my kids for a couple of hours every day, and allows me to express the fullness of the gifts God has given me-gifts which continue to serve, and which allow my children to see Mom as a holistic person. I refuse to put my needs over my kids’; however, I also believe that some space from Mommy is good for both of us. Good for them to know that they can trust Mommy will always be there for them–but not necessarily right beside them. And good for me to recognize that I need that space so I can, in turn, be a better mother.
6. I will not feel guilty for “indoctrinating” my sons with the gospel message. For telling them that Jesus is the Truth, and that he is the Way, and that no one can come to the Father except through him. Jesus is the most important person in the world to me. He is my everything, and for me to pretend he isn’t would be a lie. My boys are young and impressionable and desire guidance. I will share with them how I know God to be real, and I will also tell them what is not real so they know the difference. The world is such an uncertain, gray place. I want them to know the confidence and assurance of home.
Moms, we are child-bearers and home-makers and creators in all senses of the word… so let’s stand tall, with our heads high, because we can trust the true Life-Giver who knows our children better than any of us. It’s him we have to fear and fall before–no one else.
So, keep loving and diapering and nurturing, keep believing and hoping and daring to trust the gut God has given you.
Because you are a good mom. And your children need you. Desperately.