For some reason I had one of those nights when I thought about everything that has made me, as a mother, feel guilty in the last 30 years. It's a little more than that since I found out I was pregnant for the very first time. What got me started was thinking about how undeservedly blessed I am with my children, their spouses and my grandchildren. I wasn't depressed or beating myself up over anything - just being honest with myself about my stuff ups. Let me list some:
*I drank heaps of coffee (12-16 cups a day) throughout my first pregnancy. It's a wonder Chimera made it through the pregnancy.
*All 3 kids had colic and reflux to varying extents, but very severe for baby no. 1 (Chimera) - so much pain and discomfort and tears and we could do nothing. No medicine did more than take some of the edge off the pain. Most did not even do that.
*Letting daughter no. 2 (Mummy McTavish) go to sleepover party at the home of a paedophile. He was her friends stepfather and of course we didn't know he was a paedophile then. He had been trying to entice little girls into his car with lollies. Fortunately he wasn't there that night, but the guilt still sticks.
*Not realising that the reason daughter no. 2 was crying every day about going to school was because she was being bullied.
*The many times when adventurous toddler-son climbed the fence and ran away from home as soon as he could walk (about 9months old) and even managed to almost make it to the highway on one occasion.
*All of the times I disciplined to harshly when something more mild and loving would have sufficed.
*The times I didn't discipline enough and let bad habits take root.
*The times when I said, "That's not bad" when I should have said, "That's great and I'm really proud of you!"
*The times when I should have hugged and kissed more.
The list goes on, but you get my drift. The thing is that guilt seems to be part of the human condition. No one has tried to make me feel guilty. I just did it to myself. Motherhood has given me so many more opportunities to feel guilty, that I wouldn't have had otherwise. I'm sure most mothers would agree.
The Church, Christianity, has often been blamed for inflicting guilt on people. It is true of some individuals within the church that they have a knack for burdening people with guilt, but it is not true of true Christianity.
One of my favourite Christmas cards declares "Kid born in shed saves world". Saves the world from what. . . true guilt. I believe that when we trust and follow Jesus, we are no longer judged guilty. The Bible says that the baby Jesus grew up and dealt with our guilt forever at the cross. That is what Christianity is really about- not inflicting guilt. The guilt is already there. Because of Christmas and Easter we are saved from guilt, not just motherhood guilt, but all guilt.
May you have a guilt-free Christmas.