Mommy Guilt


Every mom at some point in her role as a mother, experiences it. For some, it is short-lived. For others, it lingers and festers long, bearing down hard on the heart. We all know it when we feel it.

Mommy guilt.

Late last year I realized that an allergy medication my son had been taking for two years was causing him to feel depressed. Because he was a preschooler, I assumed that his chronic irritability, mood swings, and outbursts were part of his age. But then it got worse. And worse. On Christmas day, he was in such despair my husband remarked, “He seems truly depressed.” Not long after that, I picked up a new bottle of his prescription from the pharmacy and noticed a new warning label, warning that the medication had been found to cause depression in children. We decided to take him off the medication to see if that was the source of his behavior and since then he’s been a different child. A completely different child. As it turns out, the doctor revealed that a child had actually ended his life while taking this medication.

Cue mommy guilt.

I look back over those years and feel like it is lost time with my son that I cannot get back. Questions like, “how could I not have known?” bombarded my mind. I think of all the times he told me, “Mom, I can’t control myself. I really can’t” and think, why didn’t I listen?

What’s a mom to do?

The thing about guilt is that it’s easy to wallow in. A generous hostess, it invites us in to stay. Like quicksand, one small step and we’re sucked in.

The Apostle Paul had plenty of things in his life for which he could feel guilty. Before Christ took hold of him, he hunted down Christians, arrested them, and participated in their death. Thinking of his past, he wrote “not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14) Instead of dwelling on the past, he kept his focus forward on the goal of heaven. He knew the truth that because of Christ’s death on the cross, every sin–past, present, and future–is forgiven. As he wrote in Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Satan uses feelings of guilt and shame to paralyze us. These feelings keep us from fulfilling God’s call on our lives for today. We live in the past instead of the present. Our eyes are always turned behind us instead of what’s in front. When mommy guilt or any kind of guilt tries to pull us in to its sinking sand, we have to remind ourselves of all that Christ did to free us from guilt and shame. It was He who bore all our sins on the cross to deliver us from slavery. It was He who cried out, “It is finished!” declaring forever that the law of sin and death no longer has a claim on us. And it was He who rose triumphantly from the grave to the sounds of “Hallelujah, He is risen indeed!” guaranteeing our own resurrection and a home with Him forever.

After His return to heaven, Christ sent His Spirit to live and rule in our hearts. It is this Spirit which “testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16). We are children of the Father who now can come into His presence, free of all guilt and shame. “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:22).

So when mommy guilt comes knocking on the door of your heart, remember what Christ has done. And walk forward, light and carefree, living out your calling for today–leaving the past in the past.

“Mom!” I heard my youngest call. “Want to play a game with me?”

“I sure do” I responded.

Because I’m done with wasting time on what could have been and now I’m living in the joy of what is. How about you?

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4 Comments to “Mommy Guilt”

  1. Kim Shay says:

    “Satan uses feelings of guilt and shame to paralyze us.”

    Absolutely! And sometimes, it takes a while for us to wise up in the matter. During some very hard years when one of our kids was a teen, I woke up paralyzed with fear, recrimination, and despair. It was a very difficult time. I am thankful for my husband’s constant reminder: “If you take the blame for their mistakes, by implication you take the glory for their victories.” That helped.

    Mommy guilt; so hard to avoid, even when mommy is old enough to be a grandmommy!

  2. Christina Fox says:

    Thanks, Kim. It is hard. And it’s nice to know I’m not alone:) But God’s grace is greater.

  3. Thanks for sharing this personal story, it makes your point so relatable. How many mistakes we will make and how much we need to receive the grace and forgiveness of both our God and our children. How utterly horrible our lives would be without that grace!

  4. Kara says:

    Thank you. Beautiful.